From Forbes: 5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Motivated Without Breaking the Bank

Employee wages have decreased by about 2% since October 2010, and have been flat since the beginning of the year. If your company simply doesn’t have the funds for pay increases, you need to be creative in order to minimize turnover, as holding onto current staff is much more cost-effective than finding new help. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your workers motivated, all while continuing to reduce labor costs in your business.

1. Communicate With Them
When it comes to motivating staff, most employers think an incentive program of some sort is the only way to go. But how about this for an idea: Communicate with your employees. As a small business owner myself, I instituted a “Monday Morning Cup of Coffee” program with my staff. Each week, I choose one staff member with whom I spend 30 minutes to an hour just talking. Often, the conversation isn’t even business-related. When an employee knows they’re truly valued and that their boss has a genuine interest in them, they’re much more likely to perform well.

2. Institute a Casual Dress Day
There are two ways you can approach this. First, you can simply offer it across the board to your staff as an added benefit. Friday is typically the most popular day. Or, you can make it a competition by offering it to the top-performing employee or department on a weekly or monthly basis. That way, you can motivate your employees and increase productivity as well.

3. Have a “Boss Does Your Work” Promotion
Here’s a creative way to motivate your staff: If employees meet specified goals, then you must perform certain tasks for them. For instance, if you work in an office with a break room and bathrooms, it’s likely that your staff is in charge of keeping them clean. Consider holding a contest with the reward of the managers performing these chores instead.

4. Offer Telecommuting Options
If you have staff members who can be productive from home, consider offering a telecommuting option. Your employees are sure to love it, as it will save them plenty of time and money.

5. Take Part in Team-Building Activities
This method may seem cliché, but it actually works. Staff members who develop close personal relationships with their coworkers are much more likely to stay with a company. Even if your team building activity is nothing more than after-work bowling, your employees are sure to enjoy it.

Final Thoughts
Prior to instituting any sort of employee incentive program, elicit feedback from your staff. For example, you may think that offering free movie tickets is a great idea, but if most of your staff isn’t into visiting theaters, then your efforts may be in vain. Put a program in place that pleases everyone – if you can reward your employees without breaking the bank, you’ll solidify your workforce and potentially improve company profits.

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