group of coworkers receiving good news
From placing your trust in them to tapping their opinions in decision-making situations, there are many ways to encourage and motivate your employees. — Getty Images/fizkes

Motivated employees can make the difference between the success and failure of a small business. Employees who feel engaged with their work have been shown to bring a 20% increase in sales through increased productivity. Inspired workers provide a better experience for your customers, stay with a company longer and score higher on nearly every performance metric.

Here are six smart ways to motivate your employees.

Include your employees in decision-making

When your employees understand your mission and vision, they will find deeper purpose in their daily tasks. Be transparent about your business goals and decisions. Encourage employees to offer their input at team meetings. Ask for honest feedback on any future growth plans or changes before you implement them. It will not only help your team find motivation in their work — it will also allow your team members to take ownership of business decisions.

Encourage out-of-the-box thinking

Employees can often find smarter ways to approach their tasks when given the freedom to explore new solutions on their own. By encouraging new ideas and giving employees creative autonomy, you can improve your business and gain a competitive advantage. One way to foster a creative environment is to ask employees to offer their own solution when faced with a business problem. This teaches your employees to problem solve and can help you grow from a business-as-usual mindset.

Make yourself approachable

Approachable managers work with their employees, not above them. One survey found that employees value an approachable manager over one who tries to coach them. The “open-door policy” is an old strategy, but one of the best ways to achieve approachability. Provide guidance and be flexible when someone makes a mistake; this can prevent your team from making unnecessary errors and keep morale high. Stay calm when you receive bad news and don’t “shoot the messenger.” Your ability to receive honest feedback is critical.

[Read more: Motivating Your Employees Means Understanding What Drives Them: Here's How to Figure It Out]

Ask for frequent and honest feedback

The exchange of feedback between you and your team members is a valuable process. Many employees value their managers’ feedback — with millennial employees typically leading this charge. However, asking employees for feedback on you is also a beneficial tactic. Regular one-on-one meetings are a great way to find out what motivates your workers, provides them with a space to give you their perspective on your performance, and, likewise, gives you the opportunity to offer career development and constructive advice to help them improve.

Employees who feel trusted with important aspects of your business are more likely to take ownership of their roles.

Provide fair compensation

High employee turnover can be one of the most damaging results of unmotivated employees. Make sure your team feels valued by offering fair compensation. Compensation is not limited to wages, either. It can also include benefits like paid leave or health insurance. Even low-cost perks can go a long way: While your small business may not have the resources of a sexy startup, find ways to make your employees feel valued. Retaining the best staff possible saves you money in the long run.

[Read more: The Best Employee Benefits for Keeping Workers Happy]

Trust your employees

Employees who feel trusted with important aspects of your business are more likely to take ownership of their roles. By creating a culture of trust, your employees will feel more motivated than if you were to micromanage them. Leaders who trust their teams and grant them autonomy are seen as more inspirational and trustworthy by their employees, which leads to higher job satisfaction and greater motivation in the workplace.

Celebrate milestones

It is important to realize that your company goals would not be reached without the smaller achievements of your employees. Celebrate milestones in your team, whether big or small. Appreciate the times your team rises to the challenge, whether it’s an employee completing their first sale or someone who has stayed with the company for a year. When employees feel valued, they will repay the favor.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published September 30, 2019