You are only as strong as your workforce. You learned this while you were working to build your workspace, develop relationships with client and perfect your product…well—you learned this after you stopped trying to do everything yourself. You learned (and probably quickly) that your employees are the lifeblood of your company. When they are happy and motivated, your business soars. When morale is low and people are unhappy, scared or angry, your business starts to tank.
So what can you do to keep your employees happy? More importantly—how do you motivate them to help you build your business? There’s more to it than casual Friday and Margarita Wednesdays, right?
Yes. Here are a few concrete things that you should start doing to motivate your workforce to be on its A-game all the time (or as close to all the time as possible).
Promote from Within
Promoting from within is one of the best things you can do. Companies that promote from within have a much higher employee retention rate than companies that prefer to bring in outside management and specialists. Knowing that you prefer to promote the people you already have incentivizes them to do their best work for you instead of simply biding their time until they can find a better paying or better titled position somewhere else.
Even better, if you have employees who are particularly interested in moving up, set them up on a track to do so, so they don’t stagnate in whatever position they have now. Set them up with some leadership coaching (coaches can be hired to work with individuals or to run “classes” or seminars for groups of employees on the same career path) so that they’ll be ready to manage people and tasks when the time comes. Investing company funds into helping employees advance shows that you’re serious about helping your employees develop the skills they need to stay with the company—skills that are transferrable!
Share the Company With Your Employees
According to Inc.com, the Employee Stock Ownership Program can be a fantastic motivator for many employees. Why? Because it sets your employees up to literally own a part of your business. When your employees have a monetary stake in the success of your company they will be more willing to stay on task and do the work that is required of them. Some companies offer this particular benefit to even the newest and lowest level employees they hire. Others prefer to hold off until employees have been on site for a while or have “leveled up” to a certain rank within the company.
Praise Praise Praise…But Only When It Is Deserved
It’s true: there are some people who are motivated by challenges and the idea that they have to “prove” themselves. Others, though, are more motivated by praise. For these people, it is the fear of disappointing you (as well as liking the positive attention, obviously) that keeps them motivated. Get to really know your people so that you know who to compliment and who to challenge. Make sure, when you do this, that your employees understand what you’re doing—that you’re motivating based on what works best on an individual basis. The last thing you want is to be accused of playing favorites. That would work against you!
There are all sorts of different things that you can do to motivate your employees to stay on task and to really care enough to keep the company performing well. Most often though, it boils down to trusting them, believing in them and helping them succeed. When your employees know that you care about them as people and not bottom lines, they’ll work as hard as you need them to.