Don’t get me wrong; employees love making more money, but it’s not their only motivator for enjoying their job and the place that they work. Employees want to feel appreciated. They want to know that they are valued and that the work they are doing is making a difference in some way.

For small businesses, most employees want to contribute to the growth and success of the business. They have a vested interest in contributing because as the business grows, it opens up doors for advancement and better benefit opportunities. Don’t be afraid to listen to your employees’ ideas and let them run with the project when it makes sense. Help coach them throughout the process and in the end, when it helps improve a process for everyone, it’s a win-win!

This is no difference for large businesses. Employees who are part of a large corporation can tend to feel like they don’t have as big of an impact, but that is false. Allow committees to form where employees can talk about process improvement, an idea for a new business stream, ways to improve your existing product, etc. Implement an idea box where employees can submit ideas and each month one of the ideas is chosen. That person who submitted would then get an opportunity to work on the project with management and a night out at their favorite restaurant or something. Creativity is key here.

There are other creative ways to help employees stay motivated and feel appreciated too. For example, we have an annual employee party at the end of each year to celebrate the successes that have happened throughout the past year. We also have some unique benefits like paid time off (PTO) for your birthday and “Feed the Smarties” where we purchase healthy snacks, breakfast, and lunch options for everyone to enjoy at each location.

Finally, the most obvious and most overlooked way to increase employee motivation – a simple “thank you.” It’s such an easy thing that sometimes we forget as leaders to just say, “(Fill in the name), I really appreciate all of your hard work recently. It means a lot to me and the company as a whole.” You can give people things until you’re blue in the face, but sometimes all someone needs is just to hear the words, “Thank you.”