You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: your small business is only as good as your employees. Without them, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank or how great your business ideas is. At the end of the day, your employees are the ones who help drive sales, encourage repeat business, and build a brand that stands out among competitors.
Since so much is riding on your employees, it’s important to treat them well. Employee incentive programs can help you do just that. Not sure which incentives work best or are most appropriate for your small business? Here a few of our favorite employee incentive programs, why they work, and how to get them started.
Relaxing the Dress Code
Incentivize your employees with a relaxed dress code, because there is nothing worse than feeling distracted or confined by stuffy suits or uncomfortable uniforms. If you’re thinking that dress codes only apply to office environment, that’s not exactly true. Even if you’re business is a quick service restaurant, it’s something to think about. Even franchises and larger chains such as Starbucks are starting to relax the requirements of their employee’s dress.
But depending on your business and how adventurous you’re feeling when it comes to change, you can either alter your dress code permanently or ease your way into it by incorporating casual Fridays. Though there are varying opinions on whether or not relaxed dress codes increase productivity, the aim here is to reward employees and increase morale. So try it out for few Fridays, see how it works, and make a final decision from there.
Foster Healthy Competition
Nothing inspires drive and ups productivity quite like a little healthy competition for your staff. Employee incentive programs, where employees compete for either a monetary bonus, additional paid time off, or discounted merchandise can be incorporated into your business either quarterly or yearly, depending on the flexibility of your business’ budget and scheduling.
Providing incentives to employees based on an overall staff or designated group performance is a great way to merge employee incentive programs with team building exercises. Choosing the right employees for your business is integral, but building a staff that knows how to work as a team is just as important. A great way to incentivize both individual performance and team efforts is to divide your staff into groups to work on specific projects or sales initiatives that you delegate to each team. At the end of a set period of time, evaluate each team’s performance and reward accordingly. As with individual incentives, rewards can vary. A great way to determine how your staff should be compensated is to ask them what they would appreciate most—a bump in their next paycheck or staff outings. Listen to what they have to say and then see if you can accommodate their requests.
Depending on the type of business you run and the number of employees you have at your disposal, providing your staff with flexible schedules can be an effective way to both boost morale and encourage work-life balance. If your small business happens to be a retail establishment or a quick service restaurant, the employees that you hire often have aspirational goals outside of their position with you. Sometimes they are college students looking to make spending money or are actors looking to pay the bills while working to make it big. Regardless of the reason, acknowledging the outside dreams and aspirations of your employees is important. In doing that, so is providing flexible schedules.
Retail and QSR businesses often have a high turnover rate; so being considerate of your employees’ time is also an easy way to get your employees to stick around longer. The higher your turnover, the more time you spend hiring and retraining staff. So providing flexible schedules with the goal or reduced turnover is a win-win for both you and your employees.
Just to be clear, we’re not implying that you don’t expect 100 percent dedication from those you employ. But having a policy that allows for flexibility in scheduling is a great way to build trust between you and your staff and reward employees that go the extra mile. The hope here is that by introducing this trust early on, your staff will work hard to maintain the freedom to work a schedule that is best suited to them.
Though employee incentives programs have the potential to boost morale and increase productivity in a struggling business, they’re best used as an initiative to reward and commend employees that are already doing amazing work. Employee management is one of the hardest aspects of being a small business owner, and with new employees and a growing staff, it often becomes harder as your business grows and matures. Employee incentive programs can help ease some of that burden by ensuring that your best employees remain productive in their day-to-day and dedicated to your business as a whole.
Author: Sara Sugar is ShopKeep point of sale’s in-house Content Marketing Specialist. Sara uses her distinguished journalism background to boil down topics like POS system technology, payments, and payment security for small business owners.