5 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.

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.

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. 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 save 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.

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