Keeping your employees motivated doesn’t always require a sky-high pay packet; it’s the little things that often count. Any small-business owner should know that a motivated workforce is needed at the heart of their business and can provide many advantages – increased productivity, fewer absences and a lower staff turnover, just to name a few.
Differing to their corporate counterparts, small businesses often have the advantage of being more personal and flexible – so use this to your advantage. Here are nine ways to keep your staff motivated and therefore maximise revenue and productivity on a small budget:
It’s extremely important for your employees to know that you listen and take on board their opinions, concerns and suggestions. And if they are unhappy, what can you do to fix it? What can you do to tackle their demotivation before it affects their co-workers? Be approachable and let them know that they can talk to you in confidence whenever they need to.
Talk to them
This can be as simple as saying hello, asking your staff how their day is going, if they have any plans for the weekend or if they enjoyed the wedding they just went to. Take time out of your day to speak to your employees. It really does make a world of difference, forming a more positive psychological attachment to the job and your company – and you’ll probably feel better for it too.
Show your appreciation
Show your appreciation for employees’ hard work and achievements and ingrain it into your company culture. Staff who feel valued tend to be happier at work and happy workers are 12% more productive than unhappy workers, research has shown. Just acknowledging when someone has done a good job could be enough to brighten their day.
Value the individual
While teamwork is central to business success, your employees should also know they are valued not only as part of a team but as an individual who makes a difference. The last thing you want is for them to feel like are a faceless individual who is just part of a sea of employees. Recognise individual achievements, acknowledge their particular needs and circumstances (for example, through flexible working arrangements to suit childcare requirements) and assign tasks that suit their specific skill-set.
From the football pitch to the boardroom, working as a team is beneficial in a wide range of contexts. It helps to build friendships, trust and a sense of belonging (a little bit of healthy competition isn’t a bad thing either).
Make your workplace a fun place to work and encourage teamwork and staff bonding exercises – could you go out for a staff lunch, arrange a sports day or finish early and go to the pub on Friday?
Foster a work environment that isn’t all work and no play
An overly strict working environment can be stifling, while one that’s too relaxed could damage productivity. So try to strike a good balance. Provide opportunities to have some fun within the office. Could you install an Xbox or PlayStation in the boardroom? Or find space for a ping pong table? Encouraging your employees to take a screen break and do something different will be good for their mental and physical health, boost productivity and unblock those creative blockages.
Foster career development
If a job role becomes repetitive or stagnant without change or opportunities to progress, even the least ambitious employees can become demotivated. Can you provide additional training? Ask employees what they would like to develop within their role and what their aspirations within the company are.
Offer incentives for reaching targets. Employees who know that they can progress and better themselves within your company are more likely to stay with you and work harder.
Flexible working has revolutionised the way both employees and employers work. Many small businesses have dropped the conventional nine-to-five working day altogether. Contingent on the nature of your business – your clients or customers should obviously take priority when it comes to working hours and staffing levels – there are few constraints nowadays to accommodating flexible or remote working arrangements.
Technological innovations – like the smartphone, video conferencing and super-fast home broadband – have made it easier than ever for employees to work remotely and manage their work-life balance more effectively.
As much as the salary, arguably, scope for working flexibly or remotely will help you attract and retain staff.
Involve your employees in major company decisions, where practical. There are few better ego boosts for an employee than when their employer recognises that their skill, knowledge and experience warrant input into boardroom-level decision-making.
Whether it’s a decision to relocate premises, launch a new product or reconfigure team structures, keeping employees in the loop makes them feel respected, that they are really a key part of something. And in return, you may get some great ideas that you hadn’t thought of.
By Melanie Luff, Online Journalist for BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Melanie writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable including PropertySales.com and FranchiseSales.com.
Further reading on staff motivation