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Small Business Insight

Motivating Employees

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For small businesses who lack the financial resources of major corporations, finding innovative ways to motivate and inspire employees may seem like quite a challenge. Keep in mind, though, that all employees are different and look for motivational methods for employees that won’t cost your business a pretty penny, like those listed below.

Offer Abundant Recognition and Praise
While previous generations were happy to fly under the radar and satisfied with the occasional pat on the back or “Atta boy,” the new generation of employees prefer something more formal and public. It doesn’t cost anything to sing the praises of standout employees at quarterly meetings or 

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add a blurb about their accomplishments in your company newsletter and it can go a long way toward building loyalty and inspiring even greater things from your employees.

Consider Flexible Working Conditions
Not all small businesses can offer employees the ability to work from home or have flexible workdays (four 10-hour days or early or late start times to accommodate appointments and improve work/life balance).  If you can, though, it will be a huge draw for many employees. In fact, Investopedia reports that nearly two-thirds of people actually want the ability to work from home and nearly 36 percent would choose this as a perk over a pay raise.

For many potential employees, this perk alone eliminates the struggle of long commutes, concerns over caring for sick children, and countless interruptions that take place during a routine workday. It can even improve productivity and employee engagement without costing you a dime.

Deliver Actionable Evaluations
Employees, like most people, like to know where they stand and what kind of job they are doing for your business. Most companies treat the evaluation process as a necessary evil, but offer very little in the way of actionable feedback or helpful guidance. In other words, they are mostly useless.

It’s time to end that trend in exchange for feedback that is actionable and goal oriented. Entrepreneur recommends that you eliminate surprises during the review and evaluation process by delivering feedback throughout the year – anytime it is warranted – so that your employees know where they stand and what kind of job you feel they are doing for your small business.

Motivate Employees as Individuals
Many small businesses tend to focus on operating as a team. That is useful in its own right, but it tends to alienate some people if it becomes the exclusive focus. In smaller businesses, every team member is important and needs to feel as though he or she is an integral part of making your business stronger. In addition to being part of the team, each employee brings something unique and special to the table. You need to learn what motivates your individual employees and meet their needs as individuals to keep them motivated and make the entire team even stronger.

More importantly, you need to base your financial rewards based on feedback from these reviews rather than who has been with your business a certain number of years. Look for accomplishments, consider feedback from other employees and managers, and notice the contribution of positive energy the employee brings to the workplace as well.

Incorporate Fun into the Work Vocabulary
The last thing you want is for your employees to dread coming in the door every day. While work is work, there are things you can do to bring a little fun and festivity into the atmosphere.

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Consider little things like inviting a food truck to come by once a week. It costs younothing and offers your employees a convenient change of pace. Offer monthly ice cream socials or a movie day where you bring in a new release on DVD and provide popcorn so that everyone can watch a movie together. It’s not a huge expense for your small business but provides important bonding and decompression time for employees. Even sponsoring a “bring your pet” to work day can lighten the mood in your work place, relieve stress, and create some interesting conversations and friendships among coworkers.

Provide them with Tools to Make their Jobs EasierBlog_quote_motivating_employees.jpg
Whenever possible, offer the latest technology to assist your employees in 
doing more with their time. It will help your employees feel more empowered to get through the day and it will provide a huge return on your investment when it comes to things like employee loyalty, employee engagement, and profits for your business. 

Motivating employees doesn’t have to be a huge challenge simply because you are a small business. While you cannot compete with large corporations when it comes to pay rates, retirement funding, and insurance benefits; you can compete with them – and win – when it comes to creating a company culture that employees will flock to. These suggestions are the perfect tools to help you get started. The sooner you begin incorporating these practices into your work environment, the faster you can begin to see the results in action for yourself. You will be amazed at the changes that will take place in your small business with these simple steps.
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