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Employee motivation plays a large role when it comes to the productivity and success of a small business. Employees who are enthusiastic about coming to work every day are naturally going to produce more than those who are indifferent.

In fact, a disengaged workforce can harm a company in many ways. There are several things you, as a manager or business owner, can do to foster a positive and energetic environment.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to keep your employees motivated.

1. Be approachable.

Employees tend to feel better about work when they know that someone is available to listen to their concerns. Simply being visible as much as possible—as opposed to being locked in your office—goes a long way toward cultivating this feeling.

Beyond this, make it a point to talk to employees and ask them how they feel about the latest policies around the office. Employees, of course, must believe that you want their honest opinion and aren’t simply looking for rote praise or an affirmation of your brilliance.

2. Treat the individual needs of employees.

People are individuals and motivated by different approaches. Some people love the limelight while others prefer to maintain a low-key presence. Some respond best to a blunt and direct approach while others are more sensitive and are more likely to give their best effort if you talk to them in a nuanced manner.

Take the time to observe each employee’s personality and keep this in mind when assigning tasks and giving feedback.

3. Provide flexibility.

Today’s workplace is becoming increasingly flexible, as workers telecommute, choose their own vacation time, and in some cases, even choose their own hours. The degree of flexibility you allow is partly determined by your industry and the kind of business you run.

However, giving employees more freedom helps to motivate them. Modern technology makes it possible to run an efficient workplace without adhering to a rigid schedule. Flexibility lets employees balance work with their other responsibilities and interests.

4. Give them the chance to keep learning and improving.

Employees will feel more motivated in an atmosphere that encourages learning, growth, and constant improvement. Cross-training is a strategy that has benefits to the business as well as workers. You end up with a staff with multiple competencies. This stimulates employees and provides you with a workforce with a wide range of skills.

If you want to take this principle to the next level, send employees to seminars and training programs or, if possible, pay for them to obtain advanced degrees.

5. Cultivate a fun and friendly workplace.

A business’s productivity and profits are obviously a priority. At the same time, you need a healthy balance between work and fun. Motivation will suffer if people feel the constant pressure to perform or if they feel as if they’re being micromanaged.

You can make work more fun by planning lunches, parties, and employee outings. Such activities are valuable in a number of ways. They give people a chance to relax while fostering bonding and teamwork.

6. Provide employee feedback in an effective manner.

It’s important to consistently provide feedback to let employees know how they’re doing. If you want to motivate people, make sure you do this in a way that’s helpful, constructive, and truly informative.

It’s best to provide feedback in a timely way rather than waiting for formal employee reviews. Be sure to mention what people are doing well in addition to areas where they need to improve. When providing feedback, make sure it’s a two-way conversation.

For example, you might ask the employee for ideas on how he or she might improve in a certain area. This makes employees feel engaged rather than simply being told to do better.

7. Offer great benefits.

Employees who have access to good health insurance, life insurance, a 401K, vacation time, and other attractive benefits are likely to feel motivated. A solid benefits package gives employees a sense of security and is a factor that contributes to motivation and feelings of loyalty to the business.

Considering offering group health insurance, but not sure where to start? We created an ebook that will teach you the ins and outs of offering health benefits. The best part? It’s free!