MONEY IS NOT ALWAYS THE ANSWER
It appears that the growth of small businesses will continue to progress in 2014 as small businesses have generated more than 65% of the new jobs created in the U.S. since 1996. With every small business comes employees and employee issues. Every small business knows that a good employee is worth three bad ones. How to motivate employees is a science that continues to develop. In times past, business owners would resort to money as the only motivator, however, research has shown that money only motivates a small percentage of employees. This leaves a large subset of employees unfazed by the dangling of money before their eyes. To be honest, most small businesses do not have a great deal of disposable income to throw at employee in any event. So we are left with trying to find other ways to motivate.
I have counseled many small businesses on this issue and below are a few ways to motivate employees with a small investment by the business owner:
Give time off. I know that sounds simple but it’s harder than you may think. For example, if your employee asks for a Friday off to attend an event or other reasons, offer to allow them to come in late on Monday. This small gesture will go a long way with the employee. Of course not all businesses are able to do this but if your business allows some flexibility then an unexpected offer from the boss for some extra time or a schedule change to accommodate the employee will be appreciated by the employee.
Offer education. This idea sounds expensive. Consider this, the community college offers classes for a very reasonable rate and the extended learning center is also available. Here is an idea – Offer employees the opportunity to attend community college classes with this caveat. If they present the employer with an A then the employer pays 100% of the class, B= 90%, C=70% and no reimbursement for any grade below a C. This is worth considering because the employee will be dedicated to the employee for at least as long as the semester and may learn skills that could help you as the employer. Picture this – an employee takes a college class where they learn how to develop a website, or SEO, or graphic design. The employer now has an employee that is appreciative of the opportunity to attend school and the employer can use the skills to benefit the business.
Allow employees to create a marketing plan. Whenever employees have investment they have a desire to see it through to the end. Take a restaurant for example – it’s fair to say that at least of a few employees are on the younger side. They may have ideas how to market the restaurant via social media, coupons, or events that the owners have forgotten or avoided. Allow them to create or manage a facebook page that exposes your business to a new demographic. What is the worst that could happen? More sales? In either case, the employee has a feeling of ownership in their idea and now has “buy-in” to see that the campaign is successful.
Hold meeting to get the employee perspective. This sounds simple but is hard for most employers to do. Every business should hold a meeting on a regular basis to get feedback from the employees. The employer has to be careful not allow this time to become a “complain” session but rather an exchange of ideas. Employees are the boots on the ground and likely have a few ideas on how to change things/procedures to make the business run more efficiently. This allows the employees to have their opinion valued and may allow the business owner to see things from the employee perspective.
Every business has valued employees and it should be your goal to show your employees how much they are valued without hurting the bottom line.
Jeremiah Raxter, Esq – Small Business Attorney
Attorney and Counselor at Law
27851 Bradley Rd, Suite 145
Menifee, Ca 92586