SMEs have a lot to contend with — and this is reflected in statistics we see regularly. According to Forbes, 90% of startups fail. The Telegraph tells us that 50% of UK companies go under within five years. Success is an uphill battle and very few small or medium-sized businesses are fated to beat the odds.
The companies that go on to accomplish great things know to not only take their business seriously, but to take their employees seriously, too. SMEs know their people are the lifeblood of the company, so motivating them to perform and excel becomes a priority.
Small companies everywhere will be relieved to know that incentives don’t have to come in the form of flashy perks or high salaries. In fact, 60% of millennials claim that recognition and appreciation for their efforts are enough to keep them motivated. As long as you have the right processes in place, you will be rewarded by engaged, eager and dedicated employees.
So where do you start when it comes to incentivising and boosting productivity? From continuous performance management to goal setting, here are five ways in which SMEs can motivate their employees to excel and perform beyond expectation.
1. Implement continuous performance management
Employees want constant feedback. This is particularly true of millennials, who are accustomed to the availability of real-time communication in their everyday lives. This is why companies the world over have been ditching old-fashioned annual appraisals for continuous performance management, wherein managers and employees enjoy more frequent, relevant performance discussions.
Regular discussions with management aid the development of strong workplace relationships. They drive engagement and ensure everyone is up to date on pressing issues and concerns. Continuous feedback is one of the biggest HR trends of 2017 and its use will lend your company a serious competitive advantage.
2. Introduce flexible working hours
9-5 working hours are dying and with good reason. The introduction of flexibility within a company can do wonders when it comes to productivity and performance. According to a landmark global study, which surveyed more than 8,000 employers and employees, 83% of respondents believed flexible working resulted in improvements in productivity. The study found that SMEs in particular were convinced of the benefits of flexible working. Similar studies have come to the same conclusion, indicating that times are changing and flexibility is truly the key to success.
3. Keep your employees involved
One benefit SMEs have over larger businesses is their ability to harness an atmosphere of teamwork. With a smaller team, it is much more likely that everyone will know each other and that the boss will be a familiar face. Keep this sense of unity going and remember that your team will be so much more motivated and engaged if they understand how their individual efforts impact the business as a whole. Give them context to their work and keep them aligned to the company’s vision. This will ensure your team is driven to hit — or even exceed — their targets.
4. Allow employees to set their own SMART objectives
If you want your employees to feel motivated, it’s best to give them ownership over their role and the direction of their career. For this reason, it’s advisable that you adapt your performance management system to allow your employees to dictate their own SMART objectives. It has been shown that when we create our own objectives, we are more driven to achieve them. Objectives need to be in line with corporate goals, so managers should be present to advise and discuss, but for best results, empower your employees and let them have the final say.
5. Promote from within
The act of promoting from within shows your employees that you are dedicated to them and you reward hard work and loyalty. Rather than taking on outside talent, take the time to examine what skills exist within your business. Consider who has potential to move up the ranks and, when such a position becomes available, put them forward. Such steps will encourage employees to work hard and prove themselves, with hopes of earning a promotion.
Stuart Hearn co-founded plusHR and is currently CEO of Clear Review