By Rachel Bailey

When you think about what keeps your business operating smoothly, it’s impossible to ignore the ticking heartbeat: your employees. From the grin upon their face as they greet customers to the detail driven number crunching in your accounting department, your employees help shape your business into what it is today…and what it will be in the future.

So the question then becomes, how do motivate your employees and keep them happy? And help them stay motivated? Successfully motivating your employees is the key that will help you reach your business goals.

While there are clear tangible rewards such as salary increases and promotions, the intangible factors are what will further propel your employees’ desire to provide their best possible work. Things such as mentoring, ownership of independent projects and opportunities for personal and professional growth are simple tactics that will motivate your employees on a deeper level.

Before implementing any of these strategies, it’s important to keep in mind that not every person is inspired by the same things. You may need to shape each idea differently depending on the employee you’re trying to reach. But one thing remains the same: maintaining a working environment that includes a range of motivators can result in higher performance, employee retention and general enthusiasm for the job and company.

Here is a brief list of different motivational drivers:

  • Opportunity for promotion – What better way to let someone know their work is appreciated than to give them more credibility and responsibility?
  • Freedom – Give your employees a bit of leeway and ownership of independent projects.
  • Flexibility – Similarly, no one wants to feel like they’re caged in, lacking room for growth and creativity. Simple accommodation of schedules can breathe air into an otherwise stuffy organization.
  • Challenge – Instill trust and confidence in your employees by giving them challenging and satisfying tasks.
  • Job title-Not that job titles are everything but even a simple switch from “associate” to “manager” can help establish power and clarify boundaries.

Here are some things you can implement today and why they work.

Get to Know Your Employees

As a small business owner, you possess the unique opportunity to really engage with each of your employees and find out what’s most important to them. Get to know their interests and use that knowledge as a catalyst into better motivational tactics. When your employees feel that you truly believe in them, they’ll work harder to make that into even more of a reality.

Offer Recognition

Whether this is public praise via an Intranet announcement, a shout out during a team meeting or a private, personal ‘thank you’ note, the fact that you’re taking time out of your day to recognize their efforts will fuel their determination to be acknowledged again.

Be Open to Social Interaction

When co-workers get along, collaboration will thrive. Create opportunities for social interaction between your employees to encourage professional, yet fun connections. Activities such as a company sports team, a Friday happy hour or even casual Mondays are simple ways to get everyone involved. And when employees feel involved, they’re more likely to feel motivated.


This may seem like an easy solution that you feel like you’re already doing, but taking some time out of each day to truly listen to any concerns or ideas from your employees will do two things: it will keep them happy and provide you with insight on your business from the people on the inside.

Every business and situation is unique, but if you have one employee or you employ 500, each of these tactics are simply invaluable when it comes to fostering motivation.