Small Business Advice

Affordable ways of keeping employees happy

Jack Stratten

Your employees are key to your success, so find creative ways of keeping them happy.

The pockets of a small business aren’t bottomless, and every penny in your pocket counts. So when it comes to making sure your best employees are content, simply offering more money isn’t always an option. But the good news is that modern employees are about more than just money. So, with a little creativity, and by thinking carefully about what makes your staff tick, you can win them over without stretching your financial limits.

Listen to your employees

It sounds blindingly obvious, but the best starting place is to ask your employees what matters to them most.

Yes, they may well just say ‘money’. But ask them what else matters and you might start to get some useful clues on what you can do. After all, as a small business, you have the ability to make changes quickly and easily.

Offer flexibility

A variety of workplace surveys conducted over recent years have all agreed on one point in particular: flexibility is important to employees.

There’s a number of ways in which you can approach it, but again, the important thing is to listen. Could you allow staff to work from home more regularly? Would working from home help any working parents that you employ? Could you let some staff work longer days, so they could have extra time off?

The great thing about flexibility is that it’s simple, free and meaningful. It makes a big difference, and it costs nothing.

Be a good boss

Employment surveys have also revealed that the number one reason people leave their jobs is a bad relationship with their boss – that’s why it’s often said that employees leave their bosses, not their jobs.

We have a whole article that provides tips on being a good manager, and it’s actually very straightforward. It’s all about being attentive, honest and caring – essentially, it’s about being a good person.

Inventive incentives

It’s often the little things that matter to employees.

Most of us expect a good salary, a decent pension and a reasonable holiday allowance. These kinds of incentives aren’t selling points anymore because they’re the norm.

But if your business offers free fruit every afternoon? That’s something people will talk about.

And in terms of cheap, creative incentives, the sky’s the limit.

Give employees a sense of purpose

Every year, thousands of talented people decide to become teachers or nurses, or decide to work for a charity. Normally, they don’t do this for financial reward. The main motivation is to have purpose in their work: to contribute towards something good and meaningful.

For small businesses, this proves an important point: you don’t have to have a huge budget to hire and retain brilliant people. But you do have to give employees a reason to believe in what you do.

If you can be ethical and environmentally sustainable, for example, people will want to work for you. If you can do charitable work in your local community, or tackle local issues, employees will also feel good about working for you.

If you can offer purpose, money won’t be the only priority.