Many studies show that paychecks are not the main thing that motivates employees. Most small business owners want to know what does motivate them. Rewards need to be both individual and group in order to foster personal achievement and teamwork. Below is a list of some ideas that have been supported by research and experience.
Set measurable goals, track progress and reward success
Employees like to have a very clear idea of success. They want to know what is expected and they generally want to meet those expectations. By having goal, employees can strive to do better, which is motivating. It may also start a little competition which healthy and fun. Reports, charts and bulletin boards that show progress keep employees motivated and very involved in the process.
Try motivating employees by getting them involved in the decisions that are made about their work. The easiest place to do this is to get employee input on strategic plans. Let them talk about what is working and what is not working and then incorporate their ideas into the plan. Let employees solve problems that come up in their work areas and directly affect them. Data shows that employee involvement increases morale and the quality of work.
Career path
A small business may not be able to have a career ladder, but can it create a career path. Provide employees the opportunity to work on new projects and learn new things. Delegate interesting and challenging tasks to employees. Pay for personal development and training. Make sure to provide coaching and mentoring so that employees are always growing. Employees report that they enjoy learning new things and getting new skills.

Incentives don’t have to be huge bonuses, although bonuses can be very effective when tied to goals and the accomplishment of goals. Start something unique and award a pie to a top performer every weeks. Buy gift cards and use them to reward the accomplishment of incremental goals. Employees like to be appreciated. Don’t forget that just routinely noticing good and work and then giving praise is a very powerful incentive in and of itself.
Create a good work culture
Create an environment of personal responsibility, respect and trust. Leaders must be the best examples of these values in order to create the culture. Don’t forget to have fun. Offer employees opportunities to laugh, take a break, and get involved in something fun. A great work environment scores high on the list of things that motivate employees.
If you are reading this article, that means you care about motivating your employees, which is half the battle. As a leader make sure your beliefs and values are communicated to employees and that your example is always true to your word.