A good job is hard to find, but every entrepreneur knows a good employee is even harder to keep. As an entrepreneur, one must ensure his or her company is staffed with people who look forward to coming to work every day for more than a paycheck.
Through the years, I found that it was easy to keep employees motivated – all I had to do was provide them with a leader worth following and tasks worth fulfilling. But after almost seven years in business, I still find myself searching for new ways to maintain productivity while providing each individual with the drive they need to perform to the best of their ability.
Here’s how I do it:
- Support new ideas. When employees come to you with an idea or a solution to a problem they believe is for the betterment of the company, it’s a sign that they care. Supporting new ideas and giving an individual the chance to ‘run with it’ is motivating, whether or not it works out in the end.
- Empower each individual. Every single individual contributes to the bottom line. Empowering them to excel in their role, no matter how large or small, creates a sense of ownership that will lead to meeting and exceeding expectations.
- Don’t let them become bored. I get bored easily, so I assume my employees also have a short attention span. Host a cupcake bake-off, plan a happy hour, start a push-up contest in the middle of the office on a Wednesday, or allow a different person to run the weekly meetings to break up the monotony.
- Celebrate personal milestones. About seven years ago, as a company of fewer than 10 people, we celebrated each employee’s birthday, work anniversary, engagement, and even personal milestones. Today, as a company of over 100, we still celebrate these milestones. It never gets old.
- Acknowledge professional achievement. Everyone wants to be recognized. The acknowledgement of a job well done coming from upper management or the owner of the company will mean more to an employee than you think.
- Listen. This is probably the easiest thing you can do for an employee; yet, it can also be the most difficult. Carving out some time each day to listen to anything from concerns to ideas will not only make your employees happy, it will also provide you with much-needed insight on your business from the people who help keep it running.
- Encourage friendly competition. A competitive environment is a productive environment. Encouraging employees to participate in competitions or challenges is healthy and may actually lead to increased camaraderie.
- Allow pets at work. My two dogs come to the office every day, and all of my employees are welcome to bring their pets to work. Pets make people happy and bring a sense of companionship to the office.
- Reward accomplishments. When a pat on the back or a high five just won’t do, monetary incentives always seem to hit the spot.
- Create attainable goals. Setting goals are important, but ensuring they aren’t set too loftily by the employer or employee will help determine whether or not the goal is achieved come year-end evaluations.
- Be clear with expectations. Don’t leave too much to be determined. Set clear expectations so you can plan for specific results.
- Encourage individuality. Everyone is different. Encouraging individual personalities to shine through will not only help create a diverse and dynamic culture, it will also foster an open and accepting work environment. We have a lot of characters here at JBC – the more the merrier.
- Be a leader worth following. This point falls in my lap alone. If my employees don’t perceive me as a worthy leader, how can I expect them to believe in our mission and help to achieve it?
- Set an example. Or two or three. I can’t expect my employees to do anything that I wouldn’t do. I always ask myself if the expectations that I set for my employees are comparable to the expectations that I would set for myself.
- Make things interesting. Shaking things up every now and then is a good way to break up the day-to-day routine of the work schedule.
- Encourage learning new skills. Times are changing. Ensuring that every willing employee has the opportunity to learn a new skill or brush up on an old skill will benefit everyone involved.
- Foster creativity. A creative environment is a thriving one. Encourage creativity and watch your business flourish as thinking outside of the box becomes the norm.
- Give credit where credit is due. Although employees come to work to complete their appointed tasks, it’s still an accomplishment if they do it well. Recognize their hard work by shouting them out to the entire company.
- Create a career path. Having an idea of what lies ahead is the ultimate motivation. Employees who have a path set before them that may lead to promotion can work towards a goal. This will lead to increased commitment to their current employer.
- Start a tradition. Our annual Thanksgiving potluck is so greatly anticipated that some employees hold off on vacation to participate and attend the event with their work family. Every holiday season, we host a toy drive for a school in the Bronx. Employees from across the U.S. fly in to partake. Start a tradition and keep it going.