We’ve all got those employees that you can 100% rely on. Not only are they really good at their jobs, but they just ‘get’ you. You know that no matter what happens they have your back and you can trust that even when times get tough they’ll get stuck in.

So how do you make sure that these employees stick with you and don’t go running off into the sunset for pastures new?

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As much as you appreciate these employees (hopefully, if your recruitment has been done right, you have more than one of them!) there are always underlying worries. Although you can’t see a reason for them leaving, nowadays people will not keep working hard in a job they don’t love (and sooner or later the same job will get boring). If there’s no motivation or obligation for them to stay, with the current employee driven market, the good ones would have no problems finding a job somewhere else.

So… How do you help your employees grow as your business grows? What do they need and how do you keep them onboard for the long term? The answer? Good old motivation.

We know what you’re thinking, not motivation again.

Unfortunately yes. We see so many people doing an amazing job with this, but also so many seem to really struggle.

The absolute key to understanding what motivates your employees is taking the time to get to know them and understand what makes them tick.

The biggest mistake managers and business owners make when it comes to motivation, is thinking that everyone is motivated by the same things that they are. You may well be motivated by earning more money and being able to afford a bigger house or car – but for Sue in accounts, money may be the last thing on her mind.

Another key thing to remember is that motivations change over time. Someone may start out being massively motivated by money, and happy to work all hours to get a big bonus or pay-rise, but life happens, and when things like kids and families come along motivations may change. Your once ‘hungy hippo’ may now crave the freedom to go to little Billy’s school play. Equally some people just like to do a good job and are motivated by that sense of achievement.

Beyond finding out what ‘motivates’ people – you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and be honest about how you treat your team members. We aren’t suggesting that you are the big bad boss from hell – however, the little things you do (or don’t do) can have a huge impact on how committed an employee will be to your company.  We once had a client who couldn’t understand why their employees were so down in the dumps – turns out the boss didn’t say hello when they walked in, in the mornings! Little things like that really can be big things for employees.

So to make sure that you create a culture of motivated employees here are some ideas…

1 – Find a balance between being professional and being human. It’s really hard to work next to someone for 8 hours a day when you just don’t like them (especially if you wouldn’t even say hello to them in the street). Simply asking them how they are, empathising with them in hard times, and maybe buying them a birthday card can go a long way. Try to be flexible and remember that work isn’t 100% of someone’s life, and no one will ever care as much or work as hard as you do – and you should never expect them to.

2 – Honour your commitments. Forgetting to call them, missing a meeting or simply not following through on the little things can come across as uncaring and disrespectful. Unless you have a very good reason for not doing so, always honour your commitments to your team – after all if you don’t why should they?

3 – Build a good team around them. Hire good people to support them (maybe even let them be a part of the hiring decision process) and don’t let the poor performers get away with things. Seeing people get away with a lack-lustre performance makes it really hard to stay motivated, so keep your top performers on a roll by keeping those around them in check.

4 – Let them pursue their passions, engage their creativity and challenge them intellectually. Talented employees are passionate, and providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. Let them run with new ideas without constantly looking over their shoulder – it lets them know you trust their judgement and ultimately allows them to develop their skills (which is never a bad thing!).

When it comes to motivation it really is the little things that count, so take the time to get to know people, understand their world and show you care and appreciate what they do.

We hope this has given you a few ideas to get the most out of your team and keep the best members with you for the long haul. After all as we always say, people are at the heart of any business – and your business growth will only be as strong as your team.