Many small businesses are operating on thin to non-existent profit margins these days. With it being difficult to just stay afloat, it’s important to get creative when it comes to maintaining employee satisfaction. So with that in mind, here are several effective and affordable ways to make your business a place where your employees are dedicated to a common goal and happy to be working with you.
1. Say Thank You.
Seriously. Make it a point to single out employees when they do a good job and say thank you. Be genuine and sincere. If you have a client or customer who thanks you for your services, be sure to pass that on to your employees too. Publicly recognize them for their role in satisfying that customer’s needs. If a customer or client singles out a particular employee, send a thank you note to them at their home praising their good work and efforts.
2. Be Accessible.
Take breaks with your employees or eat lunch with them. Do more listening than talking. By spending time with your workforce, you will be able to glean more ways to take care of them in practical ways.
3. Use Gift Cards.
Employees always welcome gas cards, grocery store cards, big box store cards, coffeehouse gift cards, and even movie tickets. These are nice, relatively inexpensive rewards to use when money is tight, yet you want to say thank you in a tangible way that they’ll appreciate.
4. Work from Home Days.
If you have the ability to allow an employee to work on a project from home once in awhile, then let them. If they just finished up an important project, let them go home early or come in late the next day. Be flexible. Allowing them to spend some extra time with their family AND get some work done is mutually beneficial.
5. Support Community Involvement.
Provide company time for employees to serve a meal at a local shelter, help out a local food pantry, adopt a family for a holiday, or raise money for a common charity. This not only serves as a great team building opportunity by engaging in something your employees are passionate about, it also creates a positive public image for your business.
6. Free Drinks or Ice Cream.
Open up the office soda machine and give out free drinks occasionally. Make arrangements on a hot summer day to have an ice cream truck stop at your business, have your employees choose their favorite item, and you pick up the tab.
7. Free Food.
Announce that you’re bringing in coffee and bagels or donuts for your staff the next morning. Find out what bagel or donut is their favorite so you will have it for them. You can do the same with lunch by bringing in pizza or other take out foods.
8. Offer Incentives for Training.
Let people know you’re willing to assist them financially in pursuing additional training — whether it’s a class at a local college or a technical course. This shows that you appreciate them and recognize that the additional training will increase their value in your business.
9. Fun and Games.
Put a foosball table, pool table, or air hockey table in the break room. Let people have fun with them during breaks and lunch. Challenge one of your employees once in a while (hopefully you’ll win a few games).
These are a few inexpensive ways to build morale and keep your employees motivated during tough times. It’s important to foster a culture that shows you’re going the extra mile for them. Don’t forget . . . it’s not the dollar amount that matters, but the thought you put into it that will have the greatest effect on your employees.