Simple ways to motivate employees in micro and small-sized businesses

Motivating employees in micro and small businesses - 4foodssakeeat

Motivated employees are more productive than their counterparts. They deliver ahead of time, stay with companies for longer, report lower levels of absenteeism, have a positive outlook and positively affect the behaviors of their colleagues.

This is why, companies put such a high stake on motivation. Some of what they offer to keep their employees motivated are salary increments and promotions to top performers. These rewards however are not always feasible for small and micro business owners.

A micro business with 4 employees for instance, each of whom runs a particular business area, will struggle with rewards such as promotions. In the same way, a small businesses with limited resources might not be able to give salary increments and cash bonuses to motivate employees.

Nevertheless, there are several ways small and micro businesses can motivate their staff and get results.  

Offer flexible schedules

Flexible schedules get rid of the traditional 9 to 5 work day.

An employer and worker can agree on a schedule that allows for; part-time work, compressed work weeks, (working 40 hours over 4 days, instead of 5), working weekends and having 2 days of the week free and so many other arrangements.

These schedules have the benefit of letting employees have a balance with their life away from work. They also mean that employees will be more committed when they are on the job.

A flexible schedule gets rid of age old excuses like pretending to fall sick or pretending to have had a death in the family in order to take care of something away from work.

In addition to being a great motivator of employees in small businesses, flexible schedules satisfy the need all humans have for autonomy. Research supports the fact that when employees feel more in charge of their lives, the results can be better on-job performance and decreased stress.

Work on your business premises

A clean and welcoming working environment can motivate employees to wake up every day and do their best. This can include things as small as providing tea, coffee and water. Some employees have opted to have plants to spruce up the premises.

Because employees will likely spend more time at work than they do at home, the work premises should be comfortable.

  • When your office is at home

It is not uncommon for small or micro businesses to operate out of the proprietor’s home. This is a good way to save on rental and other costs. In this case, have a home office or dedicate a space in your home for work.

Make sure any files or business paraphernalia are arranged and in site for you and your team. Arrange the seats as you would in a typical office away from home.

Doing this not only helps in motivating the team by turning their minds onto work when they arrive, it also helps the owner to delineate between home and work.

  • Allow for away from office days

As part of a flexible work schedule, let your team have a day when they can work away from the office. Whether they would like to work from home or their favourite restaurant should be up to them. This flexibility isn’t only reserved for creative workers.

Employees will enjoy the ability to cut out the commute to work and perhaps the change of scenery. Sometimes a new environment might be all that is needed to get someone across that extra mile to finish a project.

Put them up for other short-term opportunities

If you can spare a team member, put them up for other short term opportunities when they come up.

If a colleague is looking for a facilitator or moderator for a 1-day conference, support your employee in taking the opportunity if they fit the bill. This allows them to make extra cash and earns you a loyal employee who knows you are looking out for their long term development.

Offer trainings

Nobody wants to be in a workplace where they do not grow. If it is financially feasible, small business owners can motivate staff by giving them the opportunity to improve their skills or learn new ones.

To get the most out of trainings, look at employee strengths and weaknesses and tailor a training that will address the latter. To get the most out of trainings, employers should engage with their employees beforehand to find out what their needs and expectations are.

This will ensure that the training is relevant and that the employees will actually benefit from it. Trainings that encourage group problem-solving are also a good way to strengthen team bonds.

Swap skills

Another excellent way to up-skill and motivate employees is to have them learn from each other. Have skill swap days where team members can share knowledge with each other on their specific competencies.

The accountant might hold a workshop showing team members how they do their job, while the person in charge of customer support might do the same.

This knowledge not only helps your team to have a better understanding of your business, it gives them skills that they can apply to other areas of their life. It is also a good way to boost communication, presentation and confidence skills.

Communication should be a priority

In order for any of these initiatives to work, there must be strong and healthy communication in the business. Employers need to make it part of the culture to share information and seek feedback from staff.

Several surveys and case studies reiterate the value of good communication as a motivation tool. It lets employees know exactly what they need to do.

It also lets them feel heard, valued and an integral part of the team. Good communication will also help employers support their employees in times of change.

Small and micro businesses are different from their larger counter parts in many ways. This means that owners should approach areas like motivating employees differently as well.

Flexibility, skilling employees and great communication can be just what is needed.

Anne Kirya is a freelance writer whose work ranges from human interest stories to commercial and creative writing. She can be found at