From education to employment

How Can People Working In FE Remain Motivated?

Margaret Adams

Well, what do you think? Can people working in FE colleges and similar organisations remain motivated?

There is lots of evidence suggesting that more than half the people in the UK workforce are unhappy at work. Both Gallup and YouGov have made points about the mood of the workforce when analysing the results of their surveys. What people do seem to be motivated by is a desire to leave their current role and find another job. Almost half the workforce in the UK is on the lookout for a better job – right now.

The question about remaining motivated is relevant to FE. Here are three things to do to help you and your motivation.

Avoid Negative People

I remember when I worked in FE I had to attend a meeting of managers once a week. Whenever I attended that meeting, I found the discussions to be about:

“How many years is it until I can retire?”


“How much sick leave do people in all our teams take – and is it sanctioned? Can it be increased?”


“How many residential courses do you think I can get away with attending each term?”

Usually the attendees moved on to discussing the agenda, but not always,

Did you know that your disposition and your feelings about your work are influenced to a very great extent by the people with whom you associate? Some neurologists say you are a composite of the five people with whom you spend most of your time. Others suggest the more than you have to deal with demotivated people, the more likely you are to become demotivated yourself.

The members of the group I mentioned above, who met once a week, were demotivated, demoralised and unhappy. They reinforced their negative feelings about their work and themselves each time they met.

My solution, at the time, was to stop attending the weekly meetings because I had found something really “important” that I had to do at that time in the week. In other words, I made sure I avoided negative people.

Work Out If The Pay Levels Bother You

If you believe pay levels are really important, ask yourself why you accepted your current position. There are rarely many secrets about remuneration packages, salary scales and likely progression in FE.

A YouGov survey, undertaken in 2017, asked if individual respondents would rather have a job they hated, but which paid extremely well, or if they would prefer a job they really loved that has low pay levels. 64% of the respondents said they would rather have a job they loved, even when the pay was poor.

All of this suggests that you should look for work you like and put your interests before your pay.

If you know you really need more money to meet your commitments, ask yourself if you can honestly expect your pay to improve significantly over the next few years. When you have worked out your answer, you will know what is probably causing your sense of frustration and demoralisation. You will then be in a position to plan for the future.

Become A Volunteer

When considering how to improve your motivation, think about volunteering. If you do, then choose something you like doing and are enthusiastic about, whether this is at work or outside work.

Your volunteering efforts could bring you into contact with different people, especially people who are enthusiastic about what they are doing. At the very least, you will gain something new to put on your LinkedIn profile or add to your CV. Your new enthusiasms could spill over into your work, too.

If you want to avoid becoming, or remaining, apathetic, do something. Avoid letting yourself become cynical. Find ways to enhance your optimism and rebuild your motivation.

You And Motivation

For the coming weeks, remember, if you are not motivated in your current role, there are things you can do right now to make life better. Becoming well motivated is not about learning new tricks and techniques, it is about realism.

Therefore, make a commitment to yourself to spend more time with motivated and upbeat people at work and outside work. Also make sure you are honest with yourself about how much you can realistically expect to be paid now and in the next few years.

Take the advice in this article to heart and before long, your colleagues will probably be approaching you because they recognise you are such a positive and well-motivated person.

Margaret Adams is former FE lecturer and college manager. Today she writes about self-improvement and career management for professionals. Find her books on Amazon

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