A Happy Staff is a Productive Staff: How to Motivate Employees

A company's employees are one of its most valuable assets, and managing them can be one of the most important—yet challenging—tasks required of a small business owner.

Even businesses that have very few people listed in their employee payroll software still need to be attentive to how motivated, productive, and satisfied their employees are, because all of these things can impact the company's bottom line.

However, theories abound for how to increase staff productivity and job satisfaction, and some small business owners may be discouraged by thinking that they do not have enough money or resources to adequately meet the needs of their employees.

On the contrary, many employee motivation and recognition strategies require little to no financial investment, and may be simply a matter of adjusting management practices. Others require some investment, but that is often returned by boosting the company's productivity and, consequently, bottom line.

Invest in compensation packages

One of the most traditional and commonly used tactics for increasing employee satisfaction and retention is ramping up compensation packages.

This can involve raises, bonuses, or enhanced benefits such as matching 401(k) contributions, transportation reimbursement, health insurance, and vacation days.

However, not every business can afford to take measures like these, especially in the wake of the economic downturn. Businesses are encouraged to use their employee payroll software to see if the company can afford enhancing compensation packages.

The win-win incentive strategy

Benefits do not always have to be expensive—in fact, some may actually help a business increase its profit margins.

For example, incentives such as flexible work schedules and telecommuting can improve worker satisfaction by improving an employee's work-life balance, making employees feel happier and more productive. This is an especially attractive setup for workers that have small children at home.

At the same time as making employees happier, telecommuting and flexible work schedules can reduce overhead costs by limiting the amount of energy, supplies and office space needed. If a company offers transportation reimbursements, this can also eliminate some costs.

All work and no play…

Another way to increase employee motivation and job satisfaction is to make investments in corporate culture.

This can be as simple as recognizing employees on their birthday or instituting monthly cocktail hours, or can be as involved as creating a company softball team or putting an entertainment-filled break room in the office.

Whichever level of involvement is chosen, employees will likely appreciate the attention being paid to their job satisfaction, a factor which will often be seen in their productivity and performance.

In addition, corporate outings and events that aim to improve corporate culture can enhance collaboration by facilitating bonding between employees, which can thereby increase overall company productivity and competitiveness.

Corporate culture measures can also impact employee productivity and satisfaction on an additional level—tactics such as company sports teams, fitness incentives, and even company-wide fitness events such as participating in a charity run can improve employee health as well as facilitate corporate bonding. After all, healthy employees are not just happier employees—they tend to have fewer sick days and can be more focused.

More employers are starting to see the benefit of corporate culture, sometimes even more so than with compensation packages—a recent survey from human resources firm TriNet found that 36 percent of small business owners believe company culture and reputation were the most important factors in employee morale, ranking higher than compensation at 9 percent and benefits at 5 percent.

Be a cheerleader

Encouraging high performance can sometimes be as simple as rewarding it. Programs such as employee-of-the-month or other initiatives that recognize and reward high-performing employees not only make the worker feel more satisfied with his or her job, but they also set an example for other employees and encourage them to work harder.

Listen up

Some employee motivation and morale programs require no investments whatsoever. Many small business owners, faced with less money for formal incentive and recognition programs, have simply increased their communication with employees.

More face time with workers can make them feel more comfortable approaching bosses and managers with problems, which will not only increase their job satisfaction but can also cut down on errors.

Being upfront and honest with employees has become even more crucial during tough economic times, as employees that are worried about their job safety can be distracted, unproductive, and not entirely committed to their work. They may also search for other employment on the side—and even leave the job if another offer comes in—if they feel their job is threatened.

The ROI of happy employees

Whatever the strategy, small business owners are encouraged to pay attention to the happiness, well-being, and motivation of their staff. Productive and satisfied employees represent more than just good management practices—they are a crucial element to a successful business.ADNFCR-1776-ID-19439231-ADNFCR

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