How to keep employees motivated in a smaller business


This guide outlines strategies and steps for how to keep employees motivated when your business is small or even just starting out.

Running your own small business starts out fairly relaxed and simple. After all, you are your own boss and there’s nobody else to deal with inside your company. There are no disputes, people to rely on, or salaries to pay. However, you’ll eventually need to hire some employees to give you a hand–it’s just a matter of when!

But when you do hire those employees, it’s difficult to boost their motivation and keep it steady. After all, many people join smaller businesses just to get experience and a bit of pay. They’re usually looking for a more lucrative position and they won’t hesitate to leave your company for greener pastures. But that’s not to say that you can’t keep them motivated.

How to keep employees motivated

One of the most important things to learn about business is that employees are important. Your business can’t really function without them and you’ll eventually rely on them to keep your business afloat. After all, a single person can’t handle the tasks of 5 or 10 employees, hence why it’s important to understand your staff, their needs, and how to keep them motivated.

Be a respectful business owner that supports their staff

To improve the employee experience, you need to start focusing on how you can support your staff so that they can perform their duties to the best of their ability. Far too many business owners treat their staff poorly, giving them difficult tasks with minimal assistance or just not paying attention to their needs — which is NOT how to keep employees motivated! If you truly want to improve the relationship you have with your team, then make sure you give them a reason to stick with you.

Don’t hide things from your employees

You should also try to be more transparent with your employees. Don’t focus on hiding things because you think it might hurt their feelings or might make their work more difficult. Hiding things like this can compound into bigger problems in the future, hence why it’s a good idea to air out any issues as soon as possible so that they can be dealt with quickly.

Failing to do this could make your employees resent you in the future, and it can cause a number of team-wide disputes that lower your overall productivity. In short, be transparent with your employees, trust that they’ll stick with you despite the ups and downs of your business, and be respectful of their wishes.

Encourage your staff to develop new skills and give them the resources to do so

The idea of training your employees can sound expensive, but it’s also one of the best methods for how to keep employees motivated and to retain them in your business. People want to develop themselves by learning new skills and gaining experience. Doing this is difficult if you’re not helping them achieve their goals, which is why you should speak to them more often and see if there are any skills they think they could learn which might make them more productive.

For instance, you could teach your employees skills that involve technology so that they can be more efficient with their duties, or you can put them on a course to learn management and leadership skills so they can become senior members of staff.

Make your workplace more pleasant

If you have a physical workplace then you can go the extra mile to make it a more pleasant experience for them as one of the tactics for how to keep employees motivated. For instance, offering food to your employees can be a good way to give them a motivational boost throughout the day, or even just offering a free lunch can give them autonomy and freedom.

Pleasant workplaces also require your team to be on the same page. If there are disputes and arguments between team members, try to resolve them as quickly as possible so that there’s less chance of it getting out of hand and resulting in one or more team members leaving.

If there are complex disputes and difficulties that don’t get resolved, then it can be hard to choose an employee to let go. This is the worst position to be in as a business owner, so try to avoid it in the first place if possible!

Take note of their accomplishments

Many of the employees you hire will go the extra mile for your business. Some of them will learn skills in their own time to be more efficient at their jobs, and others will be more likely to push their ideas because they firmly believe that they can transform your business. It’s important to start recognizing your employees for their efforts because it acknowledges that they’re trying their best.

Giving them attention like this can help them feel a sense of accomplishment while also boosting their motivation. They’ll also feel a sense of purpose in the workplace since they’re doing something good for your company — don’t overlook this in how to keep employees motivated.

Just a simple chat with those employees and a pat on the back is usually enough to show that you’ve listened to them and are taking their ideas to heart. However, implementing their ideas and giving them credit for it can go even further, making it a fantastic way to acknowledge the work they’ve done for your business.

Let’s face it, not every employee is going to stay

Lastly, it’s important to realize that it’s common for people to quit after a while. Some people will get tired of your workplace and will want to seek more challenging environments, while others might eventually retire. It’s fine to let people go, especially if you think they are extremely talented individuals. While it makes sense that you want to keep those employees, you need to give them a reason to stay. Whether this is giving them more purpose in the workplace or motivating them with higher pay, there are a bunch of different strategies that you can use.

Leaving on good terms with your employees is the best that you could ask for as a small business. Who knows–maybe one day they’ll come back and give you a hand with a future project, or even collaborate with you as their future business.


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Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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