If you’re a small business owner, the importance of employee motivation should come as no surprise. Hard working, dedicated employees can make a business. Lazy employees, on the other hand, well, they can break one.

Should you find yourself at the helm of a small business and you want to get the most out of your staff, here are ten simple tips for doing just that.

Pay them Well
The first rule of employee motivation is incredibly simple, pay them and pay them well. You should know what your competition pays its employees and you should be paying more. Offer healthy rates of commission where applicable and don’t be afraid to offer additional perks to top performing employees.

Provide for Them
The best employees are looking for more than just a high salary. Choose your health insurance provider carefully. You want to offer the most comprehensive package possible. Offer generous vacation time. Rested employees are hard working employees. What you lose in man hours, you’re likely to make back in increased productivity.

Provide Recognition
Promote an environment in which hard work is recognized. When one of your employees achieves something significant, always take the time to let them know that their hard work is appreciated. Don’t underestimate the importance of the words “job well done”. A pat on the back costs you nothing but it can mean a lot to your employees.

Know Your Employees
 The head of a large corporation is never going to know every member of his staff by name. For a small business owner however, there really is no excuse. You should know each of one your employees personally. And you should make sure that they are aware of this fact. Nobody wants to work in anonymity.

Provide a Future
Let your employees know that if they work hard, they have a future in your company. When faced with the choice of either hiring someone new or promoting an existing employee, always choose the latter. With the recession showing no signs of recovery, long term career prospects are in high demand. Offer them to your employees and you will be rewarded.

Lead By Example
Motivational speeches are only going to get you so far. If you want dedicated employees, you need to be a dedicated leader. This means not being afraid to get your hands dirty. It also means staying late on a Friday. Ask yourself how you want your employees to behave and demonstrate that behaviour at all times. If you go about your job in a half hearted manner, what right do you have to expect more from your employees?

Let Your Employees do Their Jobs
Sometimes a hands off approach isn’t just beneficial, it’s downright necessary. Allow your employees to work without constant supervision. Encourage them to use their own judgement. The more freedom you offer your employees, the more pride they are likely to take in their job. And as their confidence grows so will their value to your company.

Listen to Them
Effective communication is about more than just saying the right things. Ask for your employees input and feedback. Let them know that their opinions are valued. Your employees understand their individual roles better than you ever will. Ask them about the specific challenges that they face. Don’t underestimate the value of their opinions.

Build Your Team
Teamwork doesn’t just magically happen, you need to actively promote it. Encourage team work in the office and host team building events on a regular basis. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t need to be expensive affairs. An effective team building event can easily consist of nothing more than an organised sports day followed by a barbeque. What’s important is that your employees are given the chance to bond over something other than work.

Get the Basics Right
Finally, we have the basics, such as clean toilets, well stocked vending machines and working kitchen facilities. Keeping your premises in good condition is not an expensive task but it is a vital one. This is also an area in which employee input can prove invaluable. Small changes can work wonders for employee moral and as moral rises, you can expect productivity to follow suit.

Adrian Matthews is the author of today’s guest post and carries out overseas manufacturing. Handling a small business is no easy task and weighing the pro’s and con’s is essential, he feels. Apart from the various professional commitments, he takes time out to write on various issues.

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: rob_gonyea