There is an art to motivating employees.  In a small business, it can be critical that each employee is motivated.  You need your employees to care about your business, to feel somehow invested in the business.  The stronger the connection they feel with the business, the harder they will work.  It is also important to establish a sense of being a team.  Employees are your most valuable assets.  Treat them as such, and they will respond by working harder and smarter for your business.  As a small business owner, there are many things you can do to motivate your employees.

  • Flexibility: From merit bonuses for a job well done, to letting an employee with a sick child work from home one day, anything you can do to show your employees that you care about them will help motivate them to work harder.
  • Foster a fun work environment: As a small business, it truly is the little details that matter.  Get creative.  You can celebrate each employees’ birthday, throw small “we did it” parties when a particularly tough job is finished, or support team-building through getting your employees involved in after work things like playing for a company softball team, basketball team, etc.
  • Provide growth opportunities through ongoing training, tuition reimbursement and let your employees clearly see that there are ways they can move up through your company.
  • Be a positive person: Tell your employees what you see them doing right.  If you routinely recognize their efforts and growth, they will be more responsive when you have to address areas where they need to improve.
  • Foster open communication: Be approachable to your employees.  Let them make suggestions for different ways to accomplish the goals of the business.  If they have a problem or concern, they need to feel that they can talk openly with you about it.
  • Cross-train your employees. If each person has a specific job they are trained to do, then disruptions such as illness, family emergencies or an employee separating from your company can make a huge gap in productivity.  If you invest in cross-training your employees to do several different jobs, then there is always someone who can take up the slack.  This is good for the bottom line, but it is also good for morale.

Along with the tactics mentioned above, consider using motivational quotes in the areas where employees work or take breaks.  Rotate them out.  Vote on one that should become an unofficial motto for your company.  Here are some good suggestions:

  • As the master of your own destiny, you choose the journey. Learn from your successes and from your mistakes. Learn to enjoy the journey, because the journey is where real change happens.  Not in the big moments, good or bad, but in all the small moments that define a life.
  • Business is not doing deals, making great products and having great success. Business is foremost an interconnection of relationships.
  • Success is directly related to action. Successful people keep moving through defeat and success: their secret seems to be that the keep moving forward.
  • Your work will consume a large part of your life. Make sure it is something you love.  When you are passionate about your work, it no longer seems like work, but one of life’s great privileges.