Smart business owners know the heart and soul of a business is the team working for them. Motivated employees show their happiness by providing good service to your customers.

New employees are usually pretty energetic and eager to do a good job. But what happens when the honeymoon period is over? Are they still as enthusiastic about the job? Has their quality of work improved, or is it flatlining?

Happy employees are just as important as happy customers, if not more. So we’ve come up with 9 extremely easy ways to motivate your employees and turn them into your biggest fans.

1. Make sure they understand the big picture.

An employee’s purpose seems pretty simple at face value. Go to work, do your job, get paid, and go home. But do your employees understand why they do what they do?

Motivated employees know they have a bigger purpose than just earning a paycheck. Instead, they feel they’re achieving a greater good. Does your mission statement reflect that?

If you sell wedding dresses, for example, you could say, “We sell unforgettable dresses for your special day.” But what if you reworded it to say, “Planning a wedding’s hard. We make choosing your perfect dress easy.”?

The reworded statement outlines a greater good. And that’s the mission your employees will care about — easing the bride’s stress.

2. Let employees do their jobs.

When was the last time you met someone who liked being micromanaged at work? Trust me — that person is as easy to find as Bigfoot.

You might feel uneasy giving up too much control. But one of the easiest ways to motivate your employees is to let them take ownership.

How to empower your employees:
  • Trust your employees to do more than show up for their shift on time and meet objectives. Give them autonomy by resisting the urge to micromanage their tasks.
  • Empower them to resolve situations with dissatisfied customers. Provide boundaries, but be careful they aren’t so stifling that employees have their hands tied.

66% of consumers believe the number one thing a business can do to provide good customer service is value their time. Don’t make them wait until you’re there to resolve an issue because you don’t trust your employees to do it.

3. Create a sense of community.

We spend almost as much time at work as we do at home every day. Establish a culture of inclusion and support among employees to make them feel united.

Ways to create a sense of community:
  • Come up with incentives that reward your employees as a team rather than as individuals.
  • Go out for lunch together, and enjoy each other’s company. Even better, try a fun activity (like an escape room) that builds teamwork.
  • If you have a physical store location, create a space for employees to unwind a bit. Fill it with playing cards or board games to encourage socialization.

Pro Tip: If you have one, decorate the walls of your break room with pictures of employees having fun at work. Make it a living photo album they can add to!

4. Provide a path to advancement.

Ideally, you want your employees to be with you for the long haul. High turnover means you’ve got to start from scratch training someone new. (Not fun!)

Career development is one of the top five things that matters to employees. Keeping talented employees is not as cut and dry as giving them a paycheck and occasional bonuses.

A couple employee career development tips:
  • Take time to sit down with each employee to discuss their career goals. Ask how they’d like to achieve them and what you can do to help along the way.
  • Offer employees continuing education to build on their skills. This goes a long way in earning their trust and loyalty.

5. Don’t forget to say “thank you.”

Running a business feels like a thankless task when you’ve had a rough day. And your employees aren’t immune to this either. When you consistently forget to say thank you, their morale takes a nosedive. So don’t wait for employees to have a rough day before you do that.

How to thank employees for a job well done:
  • Practice thanking them at team meetings or when meeting one on one. Let them know you’re grateful they choose to work for you.
  • Even better, write employees thank-you notes. Don’t be surprised if you see them taped up in their work space. An attitude of gratitude also boosts their pride in working for you.

6. Surprise employees every now and then.

I once worked for a large retail company that put on a huge annual event for its customers. It required us to be on the floor all day without much break time.

The following morning, we were summoned for a surprise appreciation breakfast. The twist was our managers would be serving it to us!

You don’t need to don a smock and serve breakfast to your employees (unless you want to).

Make a big impact with small gestures:
  • Give gift cards to their favorite restaurants.
  • Have cookies delivered to them if they have sweet tooths.
  • Go the extra mile and surprise them with their own business cards. They’ll proudly hand those out and promote your business as well as themselves!

7. Celebrate milestones that aren’t work-related.

It goes without saying that work anniversaries and promotions call for some fanfare. Make sure your employees feel the love on these occasions, and they’ll stay happy and motivated. But don’t ignore milestones in their personal lives. These are often just as important.

Things you can do to acknowledge milestones:
  • Are they getting married? Did their child just graduate from college? Give them a card signed by everyone or a small gift. Let them know you care enough to share in their happiness.
  • Conversely, send employees a sympathy card or floral arrangement if a loved one passes away. They’ll appreciate your gesture of caring and concern even in their moment of sadness.

8. Bring the fun.

“A stuffy work environment is awesome!”— said no one, ever. Seriously, what’s work without a little fun to break up the monotony?

Ways to motivate your employees without goofing off:
  • Have a spirit day where they wear their favorite sports team gear and jeans.
  • Organize themed potlucks, decorate the office for holidays together, or have Halloween costume contests.
  • Encourage employees to personalize their workspace if they have one. Trinkets, photos and posters give it a sense of home.

Don’t let work be flavorless. Instead, make it more fun. It reduces stress, making employees more productive.

9. Be kind.

You may have heard the phrase, “People don’t quit jobs — they quit bosses.” And in large part, it’s true. A whopping 92% of employees report they’d be more likely to stick around if their boss were more empathetic.

Nice things you can do for a warmer work environment:
  • If you notice an employee struggling, sit down with them and ask what you can do to help. Focus on a solution instead of the problem so they don’t feel dejected.
  • Make employees feel they can come to you with issues. You don’t have to be their therapist, but it helps to be approachable.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a friendly smile. It sets the tone for the day and gets it off to a pleasant start.