small businessWhen you start a small business and need to bring on a team, it’s imperative to know how to lead your workforce. Through managing employees effectively, you can ensure productivity rates stay high, customers are kept happy, and workers remain committed, engaged and producing their best results (and that your staff turnover rate stays low as a result).

One of the key elements of managing a team well is recognizing and rewarding employees. While you might be worried this will cost too much, the truth is there are many affordable options for you to choose. Read on for some tips you can follow.

Thank Workers for Their Efforts

A great way to recognize your team members, and something truly wallet-friendly, is simply thanking people for their efforts. Everyone wants to feel like their managers notice they’ve been working hard and achieving great results, so thanking workers for a job well done can give them a lift. In fact, for many people, receiving a thank you is more important than getting a raise.

If employees are in the same office as you, take the time to thank them in person or write them a heartfelt note that you can hand to them personally. If workers are in a different location, again, writing a note is great, or you can send an email, pick up the phone, or chat with them via Skype or some other platform.

If you’re keen to recognize employees a little more publicly, consider noting their efforts in the company newsletter, via a social media posting, or at one of your organization’s events that they’re attending. Keep in mind that it’s also important to pass on thanks that customers, suppliers, and other contacts give for your staff members, as this further boosts morale.

Give Employees Awards, Perks, and Gifts

Of course, most people also love to receive something extra in return for working hard at their job. This is where awards, perks and gifts come in. Public validation by way of Employee of the Month or other awards can be a great option to help you make a lovely fuss overvalued staff.

You can present people with a special certificate, plaque, trophy or another type of award (you might like to choose something silly and fun, like a company mascot doll, or use something relevant to what the business sells) in front of their peers, and have everyone cheer them on.

As for perks, you have many options to choose from and might like to ask employees what kinds of things they’d like. Some suggestions include extra hours or days off work; a free or better-positioned parking spot at the office; free lunches; a ticket to a key business event; membership to a relevant group; or free massages, childcare, health insurance, or gym access.

You might also like to reward your team with fun staff appreciation gifts. Again, the choices here are wide and it’s usually best to tailor presents specifically to your employees, but you might like to consider gift vouchers to people’s favorite stores; bottles of wine; food or beauty hampers; movie tickets; or vouchers to restaurants or cafes.

Promote Employees and Invest in Their Development

Lastly, note that, for many workers, one of the things they’re looking for in their career is development. They want to be regularly promoted, have the chance to learn new things (which can then be added to their resumes), earn more, and take on new challenges and responsibilities, so they don’t get bored. As such, keep in mind that you can recognize and reward your top team members by helping them further their careers. One way you can do so is by investing in their education. You can encourage them to take up online classes like an RMIT online course. This way, you’ll also be investing in your company by training and investing in its future leaders.

It pays to conduct yearly (or more regular) performance reviews and meetings with your staff members where you can discuss their goals. Once you have this information, look for ways to help them achieve hit their targets as the months go by. This might include arranging for employees to receive mentoring from yourself or another senior staff member; arranging for them to attend a popular conference or another event; or running specific training programs that will help them develop new skills.

Also, see if you can find additional responsibilities for your team members to take on (the ones they’re actually interested in), such as organizing the annual office Christmas party; choosing and liaising with a charity that the company will support for the year; heading up a particular committee, or otherwise taking on a leadership position.

You can also bring in motivational speakers, or give workers time off to attend university courses or other educational programs. Furthermore, employees might be keen to work in a different office, such as an overseas location for a time, or to try another job for a period.

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