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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

How to motivate employees: 3 tips for success

The key to any successful small business is having dedicated and motivated employees. Many employees come to work just for the paycheck, others come because they are working for something. There are a variety of things that an employer can do to motivate his employees and keep them sharp. Three ideas to motivate your employees include showing your appreciation for your employees, using surveys to see if your employees are satisfied and creating good employee incentives.

Showing your appreciation in order to motivate

Some of the most effective ways to motivate your employees can come at little to no cost. A simple pat on the back can go a long way towards motivating a worker. Telling them verbally that they did a good job can help someone get through a tough day. For an employee who has done an outstanding job, reward them for their hard work by giving them a more challenging or high-profile project. Sometimes employers forget how much impact a little bit of recognition can have on a worker. Employees may show up for the paycheck, but they may stay and work hard because they are recognized for their achievements.

Increasing employee satisfaction

Many large corporations use employee satisfaction surveys in order to find out the motivation level of their employees and to solve any problems that may exist. These surveys can be a very effective tool. They allow the employees to identify things that are right with the workplace and also things that are wrong. The real benefit comes when an employer responds to the complaints in the surveys and takes actions to correct them. Here are some of the key components of the surveys:

  1. The employees must be able to answer anonymously so that they do not fear retaliation and can be honest on the survey

  2. The survey should ask questions that are meaningful to the business

  3. The survey should ask specific questions and seek specific areas of improvement

Creating incentives to motivate your employees

Incentives for good employee performance are a time honored and effective way to motivate your employees. If employees know they will enjoy some type of reward, whether it is monetary or not, they have extra motivation to perform. Here are a few ideas for employee incentives:

  1. Recognize an employee of the month and provide an accompanying certificate

  2. Recognize not only individual accomplishments but also team accomplishments

  3. Award certificates of appreciation for outstanding performances

  4. Provide prizes such as golf clubs or monetary awards for reaching particular goals[1]


[1] Harrock, Richard D., Small Business Kit for Dummies (Wiley Publishing Inc. 2004).

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