5 Ways Small Businesses Can Boost Employee Morale

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You already know that you need a high rate of productivity to keep up with the competition. But how much effort are you putting into rewarding those employees that go above and beyond the call of duty for your company? What incentives are you offering to encourage even better performance? While you may be a small business and don't have an extensive budget for incentives, there are several low-cost ways to boost employee morale and motivate your staff to want to work harder towards your company's success.

1. Show Your Appreciation
There are many ways to show employees your appreciation. When they perform well, they do expect some sort of recognition in return for that hard work. If you have an employee or multiple employees excelling at their jobs, make sure their performance is recognized. And never wait until their annual review to let them know you appreciate them. A few affordable ways you can show your appreciation includes:

  • Offer them a gift card
  • Provide small bonuses
  • Give them an extra paid day off
  • Take them to lunch

Or just give your employee a card saying "thank you." It's a low-cost but effective way of letting him or her know that you recognize and appreciate their dedication to meeting your company's goals.

2. Have An Open Door Policy With Your Employees
Having an open door policy is another way to boost employee morale within your small business. Actively communicate with your staff, notify them of changes, and give them the opportunity to express themselves. When your employees feel like they're in the dark, they may not feel as though the company and/or their job is stable, and may not work as hard to help you improve your business.

3. Make Schedule Changes Easier
Morale suffers when employees feel that they're stuck in a specific schedule with no flexibility. While you cannot cater to everyone, try to make your scheduling tactics as flexible as possible. For example, allow employees who have young children to be able to take their kids to school and pick them up afterwards. Offer multiple shift types so that employees are able to pick a schedule that works for them.

4. Don't Be So Critical
While constructive criticism is important for your employees to learn and grow, too much criticism could be taken the wrong way. Keep communication lines open, but avoid being overly critical. The fastest way to crush employee morale is to always focus on the negative without ever acknowledging small accomplishments as they happen every day. Provide positive feedback whenever possible.

5. Promote From Within
Employees will always be more motivated and will work harder if they know they have a chance to advance within your business. When managerial positions open up, offer it to existing employees before looking outside your company. Also, offer employees adequate training programs so that they have an opportunity to move into higher positions in the future. And, if there aren't opportunities for advancement in your company, every employee appreciates growing and improving their skills. Reward them for exceptional performance by furthering their skills.

Improving employee morale isn't difficult, and it doesn't take a lot of money either. The higher your employee morale is, the lower your turnover rate will be as well.

Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions, a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.

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