Your employees are the most important asset you have.
Their successes (or failures) have a direct impact on your company’s future.
The crazy thing?
You have the ability to change your business by the way you interact with your employees.
You can change their environment. You can offer perks. You can help build teams of people that really care about each other and who stand behind your mission.
You can make them like (or hate) the place they work. And, they in turn can help either grow or sink your business.
If you’re looking to get your hands dirty—you should be, you’re an entrepreneur—here are some of our favorite tips for motivating employees.
We had some help from the Young Entrepreneur Council, but have also included our own advice, too.
Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
How do you motivate your employees?
1. Offer sales staff tiered commissions
Not every employee needs the same treatment.
If you have sales staff, chances are they’ll be working outside of normal hours. Given that this can eat into other areas of life, like family time, there are some things you can do to incentivize their efforts, and thank them for hard work.
Rob Fulton of Matikis—an online learning platform—says, “I like to offer them a higher commission rate in tiers each month, and make it really easy to get from the first tier to the third tier. For example, If they sell 1K they get five percent, if they sell 1.5K they get seven percent, and 2K; 10 percent. But if they sell 5K they get 25 percent.”
- See Also: What Defines Your Company Culture?
2. Give your employees what they want
According to Matt Ames of MN Pro Paintball, if you’re asking how to motivate your employees, you probably don’t know them as well as you think.
He advises you start asking questions to get to know them:
“What is this person working for? Why do they come to work every day? Get to the core of ‘why,’ then make an incentive based off of that,” he says. “What you find may surprise you. Help your team achieve what they are working for. After all, they are working each day to help you reach your dream.”
If you can tap into what drives them, do it.
3. Allow for autonomy
Ever heard the phrase “the autonomy to be awesome”?
Well, that’s the general idea.
Being flexible and giving your employees the space to do what they need to do will encourage them to be more successful and to create and foster relationships that lead to increased sales and better business.
Jason Grill of JGrill Media and Sock 101 believes it’s important to give employees freedom and enough space to make their own decisions. This should in turn motivate them to achieve their own goals and targets, and mean they respect you more for the trust you show.
That said, don’t just leave them alone. There’s nothing less inspiring than feeling like you’re not part of a team.
- See Also: How to Manage Introverted Employees
4. Provide in-office perks
Today, many employees expect in-office perks as standard: free drinks (sometimes even meals), an inspiring atmosphere, a gym, social get togethers, a lending library, a flexible working schedule, standing desks, comfortable couches, a meditation room with a waterfall, and likely a host of other things.
The good news is, not all of these options need to come at a huge price.
If you can’t afford to spend a lot on new furniture to create comfortable areas to relax in, why not bring in some of the stuff you have at home? We’re not talking the stuff that’s been through the wars, but gently used furniture—coffee tables, a couch, a couple of bookshelves, a carpet, and so on.
Other perks you could think up don’t come at any price. If a gym membership isn’t something you can do, what about organizing a weekly running club?
If you want to compete for the best employees, and if you want your current employees to be happy, try to get a sense of what other companies in your industry offer.
Think about what your employees want, too.
Are they happy or unhappy? You don’t need to take a poll to figure this out, simply look around your office. Are people laughing and smiling? Do they enjoy their job? Are they inspired to help themselves and their team members succeed?
If they’re all sitting looking pretty serious, chances are the in-house perks aren’t cutting it (there may well be other factors too). Throwing a foosball table into the mix isn’t going to change things if that’s the case.
You may need to dig a bit deeper to figure out what is going on below the surface. Do you have a hostile environment at hand? Is everyone super competitive (note: this isn’t always a good thing)? Do people not work as a team? Is there no compassion?
No matter what perks you offer, if your team doesn’t gel, it’s not going to work.
5. Focus on passion for the mission
These employees truly believe it will help or impact their customers. Her advice is, if you can help them to remember how what they’re selling actually does change lives, “they’ll have more intrinsic motivation to get it out there.”
Is there anything you can do to drive passion? Ask plenty of questions and spend a whole lot of time observing.
6. Start a wellness program
We’ve done the research, and have figured out that while wellness programs may not work if they’re penalty-based, they can have a great effect in the long-term if they’re reward driven.
Consider offering gym memberships, incentives for cutting down on smoking, a bike to work discount, healthy-eating incentives, and so on.
At Palo Alto Software, we have access to the Downtown Athletic Club, a fitness center that’s located literally across from our building. It’s a great incentive to stay fit and healthy, and providing we use it at least 12 times a month, the company pays for most of our monthly membership.
7. When possible, let employees work remotely
Freedom in the working schedule is a great perk.
I take up on it regularly. In fact, I’m writing this article sitting in Barnes and Noble. Not everyone works well in the same environment.
If you notice some of your employees work better in complete silence, or with background noise, you have a couple of options. Either you can fix up the workplace to suit both styles, or you can allow people to work in the place they work best.
If you hire good people, you should be able to trust that they will do their work.
8. Encourage employees to get together outside of work
Building bonds outside of work (and outside of expected corporate events) is a great way to foster team collaboration.
While some employees will kick start their work-social lives themselves, others may need a bit of a push.
Get involved and get people together.
Live on the wild side a little. Schedule drinks on a Friday, or invite a few team members to an impromptu lunch. Set up a group. Show them your human face.
Making friends with employees isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but encouraging them to get together outside of work to build strong relationships is a great idea.
You don’t have to join for every event, but if you can chip in and have a laugh and some casual chit-chat with them every so often, you’ll very likely start to notice the camaraderie in the office.
Have you got any tips to share? How do you motivate your employees?