If you are the manager of a small business, then you know how difficult it can be sometimes to properly manage human resources. Organizing interviews, talking salary and mediating employee conflict are some of the less-glamorous aspects of the job. However, it’s also one of the most important facets of maintaining a happy and stable workplace. Developing a positive company culture may be one of the best investments you will make as a small-business manager. According to a Gallup Organization’s study of employees across the country, of the three million employees studied, a shocking amount cited themselves as being “checked out” from their work. Here are the statistics:

  • 29% are engaged. These employees are excited about their work and have a close bond with their company. They look forward to their workday and are the movers and shakers of their organization.
  • 54% are not engaged. These employees are “checked out.” They feel little connection with their career and simply go through the motions of their day.
  • 17% are actively disengaged. This category is made up of employees who openly dislike their work. They complain about other employees and are too busy contributing to negative office energy to add real value to their company.

To many small-business owners, these numbers may be a bit shocking. Hopefully, the vast majority of your employees fall into the first category, but given the statistics, that is probably not the case. It is important to target those in the second and third categories and find the root of their problems. Here are a few tips to help you maintain a positive work environment and make your employees eager to begin their workday and move into the first category.

  1. Find out what makes them tick. Some employees respond well to the setting and achievement of team goals, while others appreciate verbal praise every so often. Finding out what makes your employees work hard can in turn help you and the bottom line.
  2. Give promotions where they are deserved. Everyone deserves recognition for a strong and consistent work ethic. Giving a promotion is not simply a matter of paying more because you feel generous; it’s a way to keep your most talented and efficient employees at your company. If they’re great employees, it’s likely that other organizations are seeking them out as well. You must remain competitive.
  3. Terminate when necessary. It’s important to recognize the difference between an uninspired employee and someone who is volatile to your company culture. As long as you have strong, well-documented and consistent reasons that an employee is acting inappropriately and not meeting expectations, you have potential reason to terminate. It’s not the best part of the job, but it could be essential to your overall company health.
  4. Be available. Being available allows your employees to come to you with any issues they may be having. If you are bogged down with bookkeeping, answering emails and scurrying from one client meeting to another, you may appear distant and unreachable. Of course you’re busy, but try taking an hour or two out of your week to meet with employees and ask them about how their work is going. If you feel too strapped for time to do this, consider outsourced accounting or hiring an intern to help you manage some of your duties.
  5. Set the example. Employees tend to mimic what they see other people in the office doing. If they see you merely surviving your workday, then that’s what they think is the norm. If they see you as inspired, driven and creative, then their best will come out.
  6. Ask for feedback. If you notice an employee that appears to be bored or uninspired, ask them what can be done to boost their motivation and make them a standout team member. Likewise, if you recognize a particular employee being exceptionally driven, ask them what inspires them each day. Asking these questions can give you insight that would otherwise go under the radar.

These few tips can hopefully help you manage a successful and motivated team of employees and maintain a positive energy within your company. Putting these ideas into practice can help you move your employees from the second and third categories into the most-desired first category. Good luck.


AvatarBert Doerhoff

Bert Doerhoff is an expert in all things having to do with small-business taxes and accounting. He has been chosen multiple times by the CPA Digest for the “Digest 50 Award,” representing one of the top 50 CPA firms in the country. His accounting services in Jefferson City have helped many small businesses find success.