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5 ways to motivate your staff without spending a fortune

December 21, 2014

One of the beautiful things about running a small business is that it’s so much easier to motivate your staff.

As the leader of a small team, you will have the opportunity to get to know exactly why each employee is working for you – and use that knowledge to press the right buttons and positively influence productivity.

Managers of large companies can’t do that, especially when their hands are tied by daft schemes “sent from head office”. You can therefore use the advantages of a well-motivated team to sharpen your business’s performance against your bigger rivals.

It’s a common misconception that all employees are motivated by money. In fact, a survey by recruitment firm Brook Street, found that only 28% of staff are driven by financial rewards, with 37% of workers motivated by job satisfaction and 16% by a challenge.

So using that knowledge, here are ByteStart’s five tips to motivate your team without spending a fortune.

1. Invest in your staff

A business that commits to the personal development of its employees is a powerful one. And the good news is it’s more important to invest time than money.

Every member of your team deserves regular coaching and appraisals, even if you run a two person business. It’s the only way to ensure you know exactly how your team feel about their work, and to figure out what their development needs are.

Off the back of that you should make a commitment to give your team the training they need. You will virtually guarantee a motivated workforce, and also have a very positive effect on staff retention levels.

2. Create an amazing company culture

Work should be a fun place to be. No matter how dull the tasks that have to be done, a business that wants to keep its staff motivated makes the work enjoyable in whatever way it can.

Creating a great culture is about having a positive attitude and demonstrating to your team that they are appreciated. As the leader of the team, you will set the attitude within your business, mostly through your actions. If you say one thing and do another, you will soon be caught out.

So encourage your team to take ownership of results by doing the same yourself. Gain their respect by giving it. Know your role in the business and show you appreciate the value of their roles.

3. Build and bond your team

Forget learning how to chop planks of wood or being forced to work together to solve some pointless puzzle. Leave those expensive sessions to the corporate boys!

Team building in a small business is about getting to know each other and finding where your place is in the group. You can’t force it, but you can actively encourage it.

Identify problems in the business and set your team the challenge to fix them, with a clear reward. Depending on the type of problem that needs to be solved, you could turn it into a fun exercise. This gives you a two-fold benefit in that you watch your business become more efficient while your employees bond and become a stronger team!

Building a team can also be encouraged with regular social events. This can be as simple as Friday lunchtime at the pub, or as fun as a mini carting tournament. Give social reasons a purpose and reason for being and they are more likely to be well attended.

4. Recognise and reward good performance

Employees want respect, freedom and responsibility at work, which they will get from the right culture. They also want to know when they are doing a good job and reap the benefits of it. Coaching and appraisals will help your team know where they stand, but don’t forget the reward.

No employee will ever feel the way you do about your business. They will never feel the urge to “just do a bit of work” at 10pm on a Friday night. They wouldn’t work 70 hour weeks for a tiny salary.

As a business owner you’re different, so you have to remember that on top of all the other things we have mentioned here, employees want rewards as well.

Salary increases and profit bonuses are smart ways to reward people while driving performance. For busy people, an extra free day off can be a powerful motivator.

And perks can go a long way – could you offer your team free gym membership, bikes if they cycle to work (which is also good for the environment), or maybe tickets to a show or sporting event.

If you don’t already have one in place, you should look into setting up a salary sacrifice scheme. This can cut the tax bills for both employees and employers, so is a win-win.

5. Say thank you for no reason

Your business probably wouldn’t exist without your employees. It certainly wouldn’t thrive, so find ways to thank them for their contribution to your success. The National Trust has the right kind of idea here.

More help on ByteStart

For more tips and guidance on staff-related issues, try some of our other guides;