8 Ways to Motivate Your Small Business Employees
Motivating employees, getting them to work for your business as if it were their own, is an inherently difficult task, but an extremely important one. Replacing employees can be very expensive, and the impact of losing even one top performer can be devastating for a small business, particularly in the short term. But even without the budgets of larger companies, there are several ways you can motivate the staff at your company. You just need to understand what your employees want, and maybe get a little creative about how to give it to them. Consider these 8 ways to get your employees to give their best.
- Ensure open communication
In a small business, employees are able to directly see the impact their contributions have on the company and its bottom line. By communicating openly and effectively with your employees about how the business is doing, and the positive outcomes their efforts have contributed to, you make them feel like a part of the company’s big picture. This can be done through weekly or monthly group updates. But take the time also to have regular one-on-ones with each member of your team. This is a better forum for each individual to express what’s on their mind. Take their input seriously, and they’ll feel like a more valued member of the team.
- Take care of their health
Health is something we all stress about. Ours, our partner’s our family’s. So offering your employees a comprehensive health benefits plan – medical, dental, visual, physio, etc. – is important. Today’s employers, thankfully, also realize the importance of helping employees take care of their mental health and offer benfits that include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP provides free short-term counselling for personal or work-related problems as well as 24/7 access to crisis counselling. Knowing an employer cares this much about their health and relieving the stress related to it can be a huge motivator for an employee.
- Offer timely recognition
Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. Doing so, in a timely manner, can be a great motivator. Don’t wait a month to say “job well done.” Say it right away. And the beauty of recognition is that, while it can, it doesn’t need to cost a thing. It could be as simple as a thoughtful email or, better yet, a hand-written note left on the employees desk letting them know what a great job they’re doing. It could be a formal program – like an “Employee of the Month” picture at reception – or a bunch of one-offs for exceptional contributions. Give them their your parking spot for week, name the boardroom after them for a month, send their family a note describing how valuable they are to the company, buy them a small gift card to their favourite store, give them a “Day Pass”, redeemable for a paid day off,no questions asked. The list goes on. Be creative and have fun with it.
- Give them a stake in the action
Open and effective communication gives you a chance to share financial developments and ensures your staff knows how the business is doing. One way to motivate your staff is by offering them a share of the profit made each year as an annual bonus. This way it’s in both the company’s and its employees’ best interest to work towards improving that profit. Also, it makes it imperative that the company is completely transparent with their staff, something that they truly value.
- Provide opportunities for learning and professional development
Giving your employees the chance to enhance their skills makes them feel like the company is just as invested in them as they are in it, so it can increase loyalty and motivation. Good employees, particularly top performers, are always looking to learn new ways to do things and add to the arsenal of tools that helps them move ahead in their careers. So help them do that. Offer to send them to relevant conferences, host monthly Lunch’n’Learn seminars on the latest developments in your industry, and look for ways for employees to learn from each other. You didn’t hire a bunch of people with the same skill set so their must be an opportunity for knowledge shaing. For the boss too.
- Make the work relevant to them
If you limit someone’s ability to “own” the job by dictating to them what they can and can’t do, you will never get the best you can get from that asset. Instead of laying out someone’s job description for them, try including them in the creation of it. Of course you are going to have duties and tasks that need to be completed, but if you leave the “how” up to the employee, you may find that they are more motivated to take ownership of their role in your business.
- Offer flexibility
Working from home may not be possible for certain types of jobs and roles, but where it is possible, employers should certainly be open to it. Providing work from home options and maybe even flexible work hours acknowledges that employees have a life outside of work and that the employer wants them to make the most of it. Other types of flexibility like understanding when an employee has a sick kid or their car breaks down shows employees you care, and knowing they are cared about can be a major motivator. So try offering a certain number of ‘work from home’ days that an employee can use every month and look into flex hours as well. You might find that certain employees are more productive when they are working from home, and this could dramatically improve retention and job satisfaction rates.
- Make it fun!
Nobody wants to dread going to work every day And if they do, they certainly aren’t motivated to do the best job they can do. So inject some fun into the work place! There are many ways to do this, the “how” restricted only by your creativity. Need some examples? How about monthly workplace cocktail parties to celebrate all of that month’s birthdays? Bring your pet to work day? Some team building activities – ax throwing? Throw in some little perks. Small gestures can go a long way. Show up with a bagels and cream cheese breakfast for everyone. Surprise them with a Department lunch. Find out what charities might be near and dear to your team members and get everyone involved in a fundraiser – get a team together to “Run for the Cure.”? Set up huge monitors around the office so everyone can watch “the big game.” Some events you can plan ahead, make others spontaneous to add a little more excitement.
Your staff are your biggest asset. Their performance likely has the biggest impact on your bottom line. So you need to treat them well and keep them motivated. You may think this is more difficult to do at a small business than a larger company with deeper pockets. It’s really not. You may just have to put a little more thought into it. Get creative when it comes to recognizing and rewarding good performance, and your employees will reward you with years of loyal service.