Staying ahead of the game is an ongoing struggle for most small business owners. Being the one person that everyone else relies on for inspiration, enthusiasm and energy, not to mention ensuring payroll is met every month, can be daunting.
However, here are a number of simple techniques you can use to boost and maintain staff motivation; and they are particularly effective for small businesses. Once you unlock the key to a highly motivated workforce it leads to smoother business operations and increased productivity.
Here’s a look at 5 techniques to get started.
1. Share your overall vision and plan
No one likes working in isolation. When your team knows their purpose and what the company is aiming for it is a powerful motivator. If you take your employees for granted and make them feel like a number on the payroll, it’s a sure fire method of lose productivity and motivation. Once people understand the part they have to play in the success of the business and the rewards that will bring, they have more “buy in” to help you reach your goals.
2. Use recognition and reward
This does not have to cost a fortune, but sharing and celebrating success is important. It can be as straightforward as recognition and praise, or as formalized as employee of the month. Small financial rewards, gift vouchers and extra paid holiday time all go a long way towards increasing staff motivation–at a price point you can afford.
3. Encourage engagement and feedback
Show your confidence in your team by investing in training. Give your team ownership of projects, and encourage responsibility and engagement. Sometimes you will take them out of their comfort zone, but if there is a new product or method of work coming into the market, get them involved.
Give them the autonomy to run with a new product or service, or if they have come up with an innovative way of working, get them to take lead on it. This can be done after a performance review where they have shown interest in furthering their own knowledge and skills. Listen to what your employees are telling you because they are the ones on the shop floor engaging with your customers. Their ideas can become your unique selling points.
4. Remain flexible
While standard policies and procedures are in place for a reason, be flexible when possible. This is particularly important in terms of work-life balance. If there’s an opportunity to let team members work from home or to build in flex time so they can earn additional holiday leave, offer these options. This might also mean allowing employees to finish early to go and see their kids’ school play or football match.
Similarly if they have family who are sick and need to alter their work schedule to fit around hospital appointments, make allowances when possible. As long as work is completed and customers are satisfied, your team will appreciate this form of trust and support. All of this goes towards creating a positive work environment and company culture.
5. Get the culture right
This is not about providing a Google-style office environment. Instead, get the small things in place. For example, a clean and well-maintained washroom or a employee break room with a decent coffee maker, vending snacks and water cooler. Sometimes it is easy to forget the small things make a big difference to a work environment. And they don’t have to cost a fortune.
Ask them what they would like to improve about their workplace. For example, it could be a break area without interruption is really important to them. Or, an office design makeover that involves the team in the planning, design and color scheme could make a lot of difference in how they feel about working there.
At the end of the day, you need to grasp the importance of a motivated team when it comes to running a successful business. The good news is it does not have to cost a lot to keep your team motivated, and when their morale is the key to unlocking your success, isn’t that investment worth it?
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This article has been edited.
Dr. Clarence Ho is a chiropractor and owner of Adaptive Chiropractic and Adaptive Myotherapy. With over six years of experience as a chiropractor, he loves being able to make a positive difference in the lives of his patients. As the owner of a small business, he has also learned that providing a happy workplace means happy practitioners, which in turn means better outcomes for patients. Connect with @adaptchiro on Twitter.