5 Ways to Better Motivate Employees in a Startup Business

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Startup success is heavily rooted in the level of employee dedication and motivation. If your employees aren't behind the vision, it's hard to stay afloat. Learn how to create this motivation at your workplace.

Startup businesses face many challenges, especially limited time and limited resources. Startups are in the business of building a business, therefore, owners and managers can often lose sight of motivating employees while they rush to reach customers and make sales. However, management techniques for employee engagement can make the difference between a stressed, overwhelmed employee group and a happy, hardworking startup team that is both highly productive and invested in the success of the business. In 2011, the national average turnover rate for employees of all industries reached 13%, according to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. With the voluntary employee turnover rate at 9% for that same year, these figures meant high costs for businesses that found themselves frequently losing employees. However, through the application of proper employee engagement techniques, these costs can likely be avoided altogether. A Harvard University study indicated that when employees are recognized for their work, they tend to be more productive because their motivational needs are met. This is what your startup business need to succeed. Leading a team in a startup environment often means asking people to take on more than one role and do tasks somewhat outside the job description. Managers and business owners need to remember that asking employees to take on extra work and responsibilities should be balanced with regular recognition, appreciation, fun and rewards, whenever possible. Try these five ways to better motivate employees in a startup environment. These management techniques can help build engagement and employee satisfaction in your business:

Personal Perks

Incorporate a personal preferences survey into your new hire orientation. Have new hires fill out a questionnaire that asks about things like their favorite candy, music, hot and cold beverages, local restaurants and leisure activities. When you know the customer service rep (who just got a customer compliment letter) LOVES Starbucks, a gift card to the famous coffee house is an easy way to say thanks.

Measure It

Remember rushing to the list of grades after a big test in grade school to see how you did compared to your friends and classmates? Published results are a great motivator, especially if accompanied by a personal thank you and handshake, or some other recognition. Measure tangible work results, such as number of customer calls handled daily, total weekly sales or production numbers. These metrics motivate people to keep up and do their best.

Get a Training Twofer

Make motivating employees pay off with a double return on investment with training twofers, which are training incentives that provide double the benefits. For example, rewarding top performers with work-related training at conferences and industry events rewards the employee and benefits the employer with a more motivated and knowledgeable employee.

Play Games

Don't discount the power of fun at work to de-stress and motivate employees. Fill a trophy cup with candy and put it in the department that handles the most customer calls for the week. Or let employees earn play money they can exchange for fun gift cards when they meet department goals.

Use Video

Let your employees video their best work and post it on a company YouTube channel to recognize good work, demonstrate your company culture or introduce customers to your employees. Use video of productive employees in monthly employee meetings, in new hire orientations or on your company website. A few things to remember about employee motivation in a startup business include maintaining a personal yet respectful environment, choosing motivators that do double duty and remembering to make it fun, but still appropriate and work-related.  


Tess T.

Tess T.

Binghamton, New York, United States

Tess C. Taylor, SHRM-CP, CCC, CPC, founder of HR Knows, is a seasoned human resource and career coaching professional with nearly 2 decades of corporate experience. She regular contributes to About.com, Forbes, HRDive, Payscale.com Compensation Today, HR Gazette, US News Caree...

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