Your team, regardless of how small, are the cogs in your business that keep it ticking over. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a well-established or a start-up fresh to the business world, your staff matter just as much (if not more) than anything else.

shutterstock_127070438So why is this important in being successful as a business? Simply put, an unhappy workforce is not only less likely to be motivated in their role – they’re also more likely to look elsewhere. Employment is expensive, it’s time consuming, and it creates an unsteady environment – and that’s more noticeable at a small business level where your employee numbers are smaller.

What do employees want to change?

A survey from Investors in People revealed that as high as 57% of employees are considering leaving their existing job; it’s important to note here that this is across all types of employers, including big businesses, the public sector and charities so this isn’t entirely indicative of SMEs.

However, the insight it gives into what parts of their jobs employees value most is incredibly useful for all business owners. What it shows it that the overwhelmingly biggest reason is job satisfaction; employees want to be happy in their role and enjoy coming into the office every morning.

So what needs to change? The working environment and making employees feel valued is the best way to interpret this. Whether it’s expanding skill sets, improving relations in the office or simply making staff feel valued, the steps are a little more in-depth than pay rises and a TV in the break room.

graphHow can you motivate your team? Make them stay!

There are countless ways in which you can try to improve the motivation and job satisfaction of your employees, from financial rewards through to improvements in work-life balance and flexibility with annual leave. While it may come as a surprise to some, financial rewards (such as salary increases) come second in terms of effective ways to boost the morale of your employees, when compared with overall job satisfaction.

Of course, there’s a line where it does matter – but, in general, an increase in pay is only a motivator for so long. In essence, the novelty will eventually wear off; it’s not a long term solution. That’s not to say that pay isn’t important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all – and it’s certainly not the number one effective way to do so.

A survey conducted by The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review found that satisfaction and productivity of employees are at their best when any number of their ‘core needs’ are met – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual

The business-based approach

From a business perspective, the CIPD report shows some of the key areas for companies for focus on. They reveal that some of the key ways to improved productivity and job satisfaction include:

  • Training & skill development
  • Working as part of a team
  • Being able to use initiative
  • Having the resource needed

If as many of these as possible are tackled then you’re well on the way to creating a working environment that your staff will enjoy.

The more fun approach!

As well as something you teams might view as ‘corporate’, there are plenty of more exciting team building experience options available – like archery, blind driving and hovercrafting. The key thing with these days, though, is not to get swept up in any kind of novelty – it has to have some kind of underlying use and benefit as well, whether that’s improving the bonds between individual employees, bridging the gap between two different teams, or drawing on skills that can be applied to the workplace.

Business consultant Nat Measley told Entrepreneur.com: “One of the goals was to take the staff away from the office and stress for the day. Sometimes it can be that simple.”

Plenty of places that offer these experiences can do days that are tailored towards team building days as well, so you can get the most out of it.

So what’s the secret? There isn’t one, really – there are a number of factors that go in to making your employees happy and keeping them on board. We think that the CIPD summed it up best in their latest employee outlook: “Empower, stimulate and match employee skills to roles to boost workplace productivity”.