If your small business relies on a team of employees to tackle your day-to-day tasks, provide customer service, assemble your products, deliver your services, or boost sales, then you would agree that your company’s success – and survival – rely on your employees’ happiness.

Productivity, profitability, and retention are the result of hardworking, happy employees. And, let’s not forget: your employee’s mood and outlook on the company will impact your customer’s experience. Here are some techniques on promoting and fostering employee motivation (and improving customer satisfaction).

Know Your Employees – Unfortunately, there is no secret formula on how to motivate your employees. Motivation varies from one employee to the next. While your sales manager may be motivated by the promise of a cash bonus, another may be willing to work harder for a more flexible schedule or extra vacation time. Take the time to get to know your employees. Find out what they want and devise creative ways to deliver.

Pat Your Employees On The Back – Not only is recognition one of the cheapest ways to boost morale and put an extra pep in an employee’s step, it is also one of the most effective motivating tools. Recognizing a job well done can be expressed in many ways. Some companies have monthly award programs that recognize employees who have gone above and beyond their duties. You may also consider providing a gift certificate to the winners or offering an extra off from work. Sometimes taking the time to tell an employee in person how impressed you are with their recent performance is enough to make the employee feel appreciated. Be genuine, though. Too much praise will start to have the opposite effect and employees will sense that your praise is not sincere.

Share Company Perks – If your company owns a vacation home or has access to a boat, for example, make these perks available to your employees. Many companies have special accommodations reserved to impress special clients. Why not also reach out to impress your employees and reap the benefits of the employee loyalty you will get in return? When you share the perks often thought to be reserved for company officials or important clients, you make the employees part of the company culture and, in turn, instill a greater sense of appreciation they have for their company.

Create A Culture Of Happiness – Rather than throw money at your employees, hoping to motivate them to work harder, why not create a work environment that promotes employee happiness? To get there, treat each employee with respect and get to know them to determine what makes them happy. If you have compiled a group of employees who make a good fit in your company and have the skills necessary to make your company a success, then encourage them to be themselves at work and do what makes them happy. Allow employees to choose tasks they want to do and with whom they want to work with. The results may surprise you. Keep in mind, a happy employee is more likely to create successful results within your company.

Work Smarter, Not Harder – Create a learning environment for your employees. Offer professional development courses as well as courses on new and upcoming technology, where necessary. A learning environment where employees feel challenged to solve problems, discuss alternate perspectives, and to go beyond their present knowledge and systems of operating, will motivate employees to work smarter, not just harder, and will foster an environment where employees can also test new ideas.

Set Goals – Teams and individuals work more efficiently when they have a goal before them. Make your employees part of the goal setting process, and include a mixture of big goals, small goals, long-term goals, and short-term goals. Ask for feedback throughout the process to determine which goals work best and which ones need to be altered for better productivity.

While motivating employees may not be an exact science, it does come down to one idea: treat your employees with respect and take the time to get to know what they want, then find a way to give it to them and create a work environment that encourages them to earn what will make them happiest.

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