10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Motivate Employees

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Motivate Employees

So you’ve hired some stellar people. Now you need to make sure they stick around. While of course money and benefits are important, a study found that they don’t top the list of motivating factors. Instead, some of the most important factors tended to be peer motivation (20%), and feeling encouraged and recognized (13%).

Below are some key tactics to keep your employees motivated — whether it’s enticing them to stay with you for the long haul or getting them to return to your business next season.

Top 10 ways to motivate your employees:

#1. Make your business a pleasant place to be.

No one wants to stand around in a dingy, boring space for hours on end. Having an aesthetically pleasing, well-lit, functional, and fun space makes work a lot more pleasant. The first step is to make sure things are well-kept and that you have updated, working equipment. This means switching out that Cold War–era back office computer, your glacial-paced point-of-sale system, or generally anything that people might want to throw out the window in frustration. It also means keeping things clean and nice looking. Sprucing up your space doesn’t have to be expensive. Try featuring local artists or picking up interesting furniture pieces at a flea market. All these little touches will make things a lot more enjoyable for your employees (and by proxy, your customers).

#2. Be a respectful, honest, and supportive manager.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but bad management is one of the top reasons employees run for the hills. Things like respect, honesty, support, and clear communication are the foundations here. But there’s a lot more you can do to be a great leader and mentor. If you’re new to this whole management thing, it’s worth reading some books on the subject — effective management, like any other skill, takes knowledge and practice. As a starting point, check out Amazon’s best-sellers on management, or check out the employee management section of Square’s blog. The long and short of it: if you’re a good person to work for, your employees will be more loyal.

#3. Offer employee rewards.

People will stay with your business if they have a reason to. So if you want to keep your good people and keep them motivated, it’s worth starting an incentive program. Maybe it’s a quarterly bonus. Maybe it’s a commission structure that’s better than the competition. Maybe it’s offering to foot the bill for additional credentials. Or maybe it’s even profit-sharing in your company. If people know they’ll be rewarded for a job well done, they’ll be 1) more likely to, well, do a good job, and 2) stay to see things through.

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#4. Give them room to grow.

Especially if your business is rapidly expanding, giving your employees room to grow within the company is a huge motivator. There’s the dangling carrot of more money, yes, but there’s also the psychological factor of feeling like they’re trusted and respected for their work. If you’re opening up a second location, think about which of your employees might be a good fit for a management role there. If there’s someone who’s doing a particularly good job with inventory, consider grooming that person to take over vendor relations completely. When you give your best employees growth opportunities, it shifts their thinking from “this is just a side job” to “this could be a full-fledged career.”

#5. Share positive feedback.

It’s great to feel fulfilled by your work. In fact, it’s one of the key job satisfaction factors. Satisfaction in your work can come from a variety of places — from knowing you made the perfect cup of coffee to saving a house by removing a menacing tree. And if your customers express appreciation for these things, be sure to share that feedback with your employees. This is especially easy to do with Square Feedback. Many Square sellers make it a point to share all of the positive, encouraging feedback with their employees during weekly meetings. Letting your employees know they made someone’s day (or more) makes them feel good — and gives them a deeper connection to your business.

#6. Be transparent.

Having insight into how business is going makes your employees more invested. So make a point to share this data with them on a regular basis. Luckily, Square makes this easy. You can send out daily, weekly, or monthly sales reports — or even information about how many of your customers are new versus returning. Having access to all this data not only makes your employees feel like they’re an important part of the business, it also helps point out areas where things could be improved.

#7. Offer flexible scheduling.

Technology has changed the way businesses operate, and it has also changed the way we work–or the way we can work. If employees are able (and expected) to check work email on their phones or finish projects on their laptops at home, it’s reasonable for them to want a similar flexibility from their employers when it comes to scheduling. And they do. In a Forbes study, 46 percent of respondents said that flexibility is the most important factor when it comes to job searching. And employers are paying attention: 86 percent of companies on Forbes 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” offered some type of flexible schedule. So, whether it’s a work-from-home opportunity or flex time, offer various scheduling options if you want to be viewed as a progressive employer and attract top talent.

#8. Offer food in the workplace.

Are good snacks the key to employee retention? Maybe. After all, nobody works well when they’re hangry. It seems so simple, but sometimes all you have to do to make people happy is to feed them. Obviously it’s not that simple–employees also have to be reasonably satisfied with their jobs. Yet food does make an undeniable difference. In fact, a survey by Seamless found that 57 percent of employees say food-based perks would make them feel more valued and appreciated. It makes sense: When your employer pays attention to your physical needs, you get the impression that they care about you as a person–not just what you can do for the company. In the same survey, 38 percent said food perks would make them more likely to endorse their employer in a “best places to work for” survey, so not only will decent snacks help you keep your employees, it can also help you attract great new talent.

#9. Recognize their achievements.

Sometimes all people want is some recognition for a job well done. If an employee has been putting in a lot of time working on a project, or they went out of their way to help out a coworker, do not hesitate to praise them. It’s not just about the act of recognition, but the principle: If people feel that their efforts are appreciated, they will feel compelled to continue working hard. Employees whose achievements were recognized also have reported that they experience higher levels of enjoyment out of the work they do. But if they feel like their long hours and personal sacrifices were for naught, it’s unlikely that they will go out of their way for the company again. So, whether it’s noting their contributions in a meeting, recognizing them in a staff email, or just thanking them privately, it’s imperative that you show hardworking employees your gratitude.

Having great employees who’ve been at your company for a while is a huge plus. Keeping employees motivated, especially during tough times is an important part of your business’ success. Long-time employees know the ins and outs of things, and they also make running your business a lot more enjoyable.

10. Ask them what they want.

Instead of trying guess what’s most important to them, actually sit down with them and find out what they value. Crazy, right? Doing the unexpected might be the best thing you can do for your employees, and your company.

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