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Every business owner or manager knows that the employees are the backbone of any company. You can have all the marketing and brilliant business plans in the world, and it won’t mean anything if you don’t have a productive and motivated workforce to pull it off. These days, employee satisfaction is more important than ever, with many people picking which companies they want to work for based on how they support their workers instead of other factors. This is an opportunity for any business, especially a small one looking for a leg up against the bigger competition. Happy employees are loyal and productive employees, so here are a few tips you can use to improve your company culture and keep your workers satisfied and motivated.

Incentivize Your Employees
One of the easiest traps for a manager to fall into is leaning too heavily on the stick and forgetting about the carrot. It’s important that your employees feel appreciated, so don’t be stingy with praise and rewards. When your workers succeed, speak up! Make sure they know that you see them and you appreciate what they’re doing for the company. Remember that your workers are devoting enormous amounts of time and effort in pursuit of your company’s goals, so make sure their contributions are being noted and appreciated.

Praise isn’t the only carrot you have in your toolbox, either. Recognition only goes so far, so sometimes it’s necessary to add in some more exciting incentives. Try offering gift cards or other small rewards for especially impressive performance, and see the difference in employee motivation. If your workers know they have recognition and rewards waiting for them, it’ll be a lot easier to come to work every day with a smile and a motivated attitude.

Have Empathy
You can use all the incentives you want, but at the end of the day, the morale of your employees is always going to start with you. Think about how you interact with your workers. Are you being kind, respectful, empathetic? You need to make sure that your employees feel comfortable around you and are willing to come to you if they need help or have any questions. A bad boss is one of the most common reasons why employees leave to find a new job, so make sure you’re not that boss. If you treat your employees with kindness and respect, they’ll repay you with loyalty and commitment to their work. Try to manage your expectations as well, especially if you own your own business. You might be able to pour 10+ hours a day into your business, but that doesn’t mean your employees should be expected to do the same. Keep your demands reasonable to avoid burnout, and the overall results will be improved.

Don’t Play Favorites
This might seem obvious, but it’s a lot easier to fall into this trap than you might think. It’s natural to have favorite employees, especially if you have some workers who are just better at their jobs, but even the slightest whiff of favoritism will sour your other employees on your leadership. Not only is this a more effective way to lead your team, but it’s also more ethical. Keep in mind that every worker, even the ones that aren’t your favorites, is an important part of your team and is worthy of your respect. Make sure that you’re being open and equal with pay as well as with promotion opportunities. Not only does this earn you the respect of your employees, but it could open you up to discovering new favorite employees, or figuring out how the talents of some of your workers could be better utilized.

Find Out What Motivates Them
Every person is different, which means that what works for some managers might not be effective when applied to your team. One of the most important things you can do as a leader is figuring out what motivates your employees, and tailor your management strategies to that information. Try to find out what drives them to succeed, and bring in some conference speakers to go over the subject with them. Speakers tend to split the subjects of their seminars into three categories. The first is sustainable needs, which has to do with more tangible benefits like wages, insurance, and other rewards. The second has to do with reliability needs, and involves employee recognition and pumping up your team by getting them excited to work. The last is growth needs, which has to do with improving skills or gaining knowledge they can use to improve their work. Selecting the right category of conference speakers can go a long way towards improving employee morale and motivation.

Foster Pride in the Workplace
Employee satisfaction is closely tied to the pride your workers have in their jobs. After all, if you’re not proud of the work you’re doing, then why bother to try hard or go the extra mile? It can make a huge difference if your workers feel like what they’re doing is meaningful, and that they have a stake in the success of the projects they’re working on. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure your employees feel trusted. Try to avoid micromanaging them as much as you can, and let them know you trust them to complete their work in their own way. This can go a long way towards making them feel like they have ownership of their work, which is huge. You should also be making sure they feel heard and respected, and that their ideas are being listened to. Give them a stake in what they’re working on, and the motivational boost will be enormous.

Regardless of the route, you end up taking, the destination should always be the same: a company culture that encourages employee satisfaction and happiness. Make sure you’re listening to your workers, responding to their wants and needs, and the results are sure to be noticeable. In the long run, this is one of the best investments your company can make.

    Being a senior business associate, Peter Davidson strives to help different brands and startups to make effective business decisions and plan effective business strategies. With years of rich domain expertise, he loves to share his views on the latest technologies and applications through his well-researched content pieces. You can follow hm on twitter.

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