Employee motivation is the level of energy, commitment, and creativity that a company's workers apply to their jobs. In the increasingly competitive business environment of recent years, finding ways to motivate employees has become a pressing concern for many managers. In fact, a number of different theories and methods of employee motivation have emerged, ranging from monetary incentives to increased involvement and empowerment. Employee motivation can sometimes be particularly problematic for small businesses, where the owner often has spent so many years building a company that he/she finds it difficult to delegate meaningful responsibilities to others. But entrepreneurs should be mindful of such pitfalls, for the effects of low employee motivation on small businesses can be devastating. Some of the problems associated with unmotivated workers include complacency, declining morale, and widespread discouragement. If allowed to continue, these problems can reduce productivity, earnings, and competitiveness in a small business.
On the other hand, small businesses can also provide an ideal atmosphere for fostering employee motivation, because employees are able to see the results of their contributions in a more immediate way than in large firms. Besides increasing productivity and competitiveness, a highly motivated work force can allow a small business owner to relinquish day-today, operational control and instead concentrate on long-term strategies to grow the business.
Moreover, a business that institutes effective wayswhether tangible (such as a financial bonus) or intangible (say, a plum assignment for an upcoming project)of rewarding employees for good work can be an invaluable tool in employee retention. People enjoy working, and tend to thrive in organizations that create positive work environments. Additionally, they tend to thrive in environments where they can make a difference, and where most people in the organization are competent and pulling together to move the company forward. Appropriately structured reward and recognition programs are important, but not exclusive, components in this mix.
One approach to employee motivation has been to view "add-ins" to an individual's job as the primary factors in improving performance. Endless mixes of employee benefitssuch as health care, life insurance, profit sharing, employee stock ownership plans, exercise facilities, subsidized meal plans, child care availability, company cars, and morehave been used by companies in their efforts to maintain happy employees in the belief that happy employees are...