One of your biggest challenges as a small business owner is hiring and motivating a great team. Even in tough economic times your star performers have other options, so you need to get resourceful about inspiring their best work without ruining your bottom line.
Let's say you have a small office of 15 employees and want to set aside $5,000 to 10,000 for the year to motivate and inspire your employees. How might you allocate those funds? Here are seven great ideas for unconventional and inexpensive but powerful motivators:
Time off: paid full or half day in lieu of cash bonus. This is “free” in the sense of no incremental expense.
Telecommuting. On occasion, flexibility. Again, a “free” perk to the employer.
Snacks: we don’t mean a box of chocolates or other fat pills, but a steady supply of healthy, fresh snacks and beverages. For example, Bloomberg employees rave about the generous supply of snacks in their NY headquarters. Are free oatmeal, chips, soda, and fruit really that motivating? Somehow this is a perk that resonates beyond its actual financial value.
Add a pre-tax commuting benefit to your list of benefits. You’ll pay a modest monthly administrative fee and they’ll fund their commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars. This is a benefit that appeals to almost everyone.
If it fits for your business, do a barter with a vendor or customer to provide a gift card or other perk to employees. Time Inc. employees, for example, have enjoyed holiday gifts such as $100 cards to The Container Store – all done as barter for advertising. Can you do something similar with a local merchant?
Find value in socializing with your office. Monthly wine and cheese parties or a two-hour cocktail hour at a local bar after your staff has met deadlines and exceeded expectations is a great way to unite staff and learn more about them while also showing how much you appreciate them.
Encourage advanced education. The more your staff learns, the more your company will grow and think outside the box. Look for ways you can help make it possible for your employees to enhance their professional lives by developing their skills and knowledge base.
Get more tips on motivating employees.