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5 Ways to Recapture Your Service Desk Team’s Lost Motivation

By | September 27, 2016 in Service Desk


Come the end of a busy week, does your IT service desk ever look a little bit like the set of a western movie?

The atmosphere is dry and barren. Random objects are strewn across the office like 21st-century tumbleweed. With your team members staring blankly into the distance, eyes burned by the constant glare of their monitors, tired and reeking of apathy. It’s been a heavy week, and you’ve been consistently ambushed with incidents. The service desk has spent day after day in the firing line of end users, having to repeatedly circle the wagons under the glare of SLAs and stretching performance targets. And now your team is tired.

Pinned to the notice board is a sign, “Wanted: Motivation.” Best not to mention the wild west reference to dead or alive.

The Good, the Bad, and the…Unmotivated

Looking around at your team you start to wonder when the motivation disappeared and how long it’s been gone, but it’s no good following the hoof prints back down the already well-trodden trodden path. Instead you need to get back on your horse, perhaps after drinking your milk, and rally your riders. And here’s a few suggestions on how to re-motivate your team to face another week, month, or even year of the IT support wild west:

1. Listen up, partner!

Communication is crucial – listen to your team and instigate a collaborative feedback cycle. According to research by,  39% of workers don’t feel that their input is appreciated.

By asking your team members for their input and involving them in the decision-making process, it will make them much more likely to support day-to-day activities, improvement projects, or your decisions. And remember, once you have gained their feedback, visibly follow up to show them that you’re actively taking their opinion onboard.

2. Have one-on-ones, but hopefully not standoffs

Recognize each member of your team as an individual.

And that your team’s motivation level is directly correlated to your management style. Did you know that 75% of people voluntarily leaving jobs don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses?

In addition to more one-on-one time, you could also learn what motivates individual staff members through psychometric tests. Try to understand how they like to be managed to optimize their productivity. Then as their manager, create attainable goals and clearly communicate plans to keep staff engaged and in the loop.

In the Workforce Mood Tracker™ Spring 2014 survey, 73% of respondents credited “recognition” for having a positive impact on their happiness at work. So wherever possible recognize work, and even personal, achievements to make your team feel valued.

3. Shoot ‘em up!

Gamify your service desk metrics to help motivate your team to hit their KPIs. Reporting on IT service desk/help desk performance can quickly take the motivation out of your team, especially if they fall below their agreed SLA threshold. Make reporting less daunting and more fun by fostering a little healthy competition and regularly recognizing excellence versus key KPIs. You could choose the quickest resolution time, the highest rating on a feedback form, or the number of tickets closed within a day; and offer up an incentive for the winner such as leaving early, a chocolate bar, or even just their name at the top of a leaderboard. The reward part of “reward and recognition” doesn’t need to be costly.

Hitting targets should be fun. Yes, recognize underperformance, but don’t let it override the great job your team does on a daily basis.

4. Did someone say rodeo?

Inject friendship and fun into your working environment by organizing regular socials.

Gallup research has shown that close friendships at work produce a 50% increase in employee satisfaction, and having a close friend at work increased the likelihood of engagement by seven times.

So try to support the cultivation of friendships within your team, through social events such as team building excursions, casual team lunches, or networking events. And remember that happy employees are more productive employees! Research from the University of Warwick has confirmed that being happy made employees about 12% more productive and, you guessed it, more motivated.

5. Banish the barren work-land

Ensure that the work environment is pleasant and inviting. Research by the International Journal of Science and Research has shown that:

“The quality and quantity of work generated by employees are influenced by the work environment while poor environmental conditions can cause inefficient worker productivity as well as reduce their job satisfaction.”

So assess the environment your service desk agents work in. Hopefully your team isn’t packed into a dingy office, filled with old IT equipment, like in the IT Crowd. Consider the lighting, temperature, noise, layout, decoration, cleanliness, equipment, furniture, and air quality. Let team members give you input to sensible environmental and ergonomic improvements. Help to create a sense of pride in the work area by allowing your team to embrace their individuality and feel ownership over their personal workspaces. Invite them to make the workplace their own, and if you can find the budget, spend some company money on making it a better workplace.

Time to Round It Up, Cowboy…

Happiness and job satisfaction have been scientifically shown to increase productivity and motivation in the workplace. So try to create the kind of atmosphere that makes your staff come to work every day, not because they HAVE to, but because they WANT to.

  1. Listen to your staff and instigate a collaborative feedback cycle. Communication is crucial.
  2. Recognize each member of your team as an individual.
  3. Gamify your metrics to motivate your team to hit their KPIs.
  4. Inject friendship and fun into your working environment by organizing regular social events.
  5. Ensure that the work environment is pleasant and inviting.
Roy Eldar

About Roy Eldar

Former SysAid VP Support, with over 15 years’ experience in IT and large-scale production operations, Roy was responsible for the cloud infrastructure that powers SysAid and for our signature customer-centric support. Outside of work, Roy is an avid photographer, who also loves road cycling.

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