Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time to get back to work and start focusing on the challenges and opportunities of the new year ahead. One such challenge (and opportunity) that you may be facing as a small business owner is how to really motivate employees.
Now, there is no shortage of employment “experts” who will tell you that unlimited vacations, “play areas,” and thank you notes are the path to happy and motivated workers. But, let’s be honest: for many businesses such benefits are out of place; they can also be a real turnoff to employees that could actually lower moral and motivation.
There are so many businesses, big and small, that get employee motivation wrong, putting emphasis and money into unproductive areas. My proof? Many of the companies that have the most expensive, unusual, or even quirky perks to motivate employees, usually also have the highest turn over rates. You don’t have to be cheesy or make it look like you are trying too hard in order to win over the staff in your small business. Here are five practical things you can do for your employees even if you can not afford to throw a generous benefits package their way (…and how many of us can?).
5 Tips to Motivate Employees
1. Hire the right people. Having motivated employees really starts here. While skills and experience are certainly important, you want to be as certain as you can be that this person has the personality and passions necessary to work in your business. Keep in mind that you are really trying to build a team. If someone really isn’t a good fit for your business, even if he or she has a resume full of amazing qualifications, then let this person go. It’s not worth it. Even the time and money-consuming task of having to recruit and hire a new person, is a small price to pay to get the right team working for you.
2. Create a clear and compelling vision. But the right team by itself won’t be enough. You need to rally them around a clear and compelling purpose and mission. When everyone is unified around a common goal, big things happen.
3. Give your employees some space. The more authority, wiggle room, and autonomy you can comfortably give your employees, the better. The more they are allowed to make the decisions and take the actions that are needed to get the job done in the best way, the more you will see them rise to the occasion.
4. Provide opportunities for advancement. Static jobs and roles are not only boring, but they are unfulfilling as well. This is particularly important if you are hiring a young workforce- i.e. those in their mid-twenties to early thirties. Younger workers today are more likely to job-hop than any other generation. So, make sure you give your employees opportunities to advance themselves, their skills, and their careers through cross training, continuing educational opportunities, coaching, and feedback. They will be not only more well-rounded, but more motivated to do their jobs.
5. Randomly recognize achievement. There is a big difference between rewards versus recognition when it comes to motivating your employees. The problem with sticking to a rewards program is that the goal becomes getting the reward itself, while the bigger picture of doing a good job gets lost. A better strategy is to unexpectedly, yet consistently recognize and reward outstanding performance. This keeps your employees focused where it counts while offering come recognition of their efforts.
In short, to motivate employees in your small business, it’s not just about unusual perks, money, or rewards. There are a bunch of other factors that can make all the difference between making employee motivation an opportunity instead of a challenge.