By Rieva Lesonsky
Look around your office. Are you proud of the team you’ve put together to run your business? Are you grateful that they’ve stuck with you in good times and not so good times? You may not have the working capital to give employees bonuses to thank them, but there are plenty of ways to show your staff your appreciation without having to take out a small business loan. Here are some low-cost (and even free) things a small business owner can do to make employees want to stick around:
- Let them work from home. Most employees would appreciate the opportunity to not have to come into the office every day. It depends on the job duties of the worker, obviously, but many jobs can be done anywhere, and most people have access to a computer in their homes. Make sure you set your work-at-home program up temporarily at first so you can test the waters. Outline exactly what you expect from the virtual worker, including the hours they must be available, how they will communicate with you and quotas or goals. Letting employees work from home part-time or full-time tells them you trust them to get their work done and improves productivity. As an added bonus, you’ll save money on rent and overhead.
- Help further their careers. Did you know that paying for education for employees is a tax write-off if the classes relate to the employee’s job description? Also, buying business subscriptions, enrolling employees in training courses and sending them to seminars not only enhances their work skills, but also gets them out of the office every once in a while (and everyone can use a change of scenery). More educated employees means more new ideas and innovations for your business. Plus, employees can deduct the mileage driving to and from work-related trainings on their personal tax returns.
- Give them time off to volunteer. Employees will appreciate you giving them a few hours off now and then to give back to the community. You can set this up as a work event, which also gives your business a good name in your community, or let employees pick the charity of their choice. Even if it’s just volunteering at their children’s school, the gesture will not go unnoticed.
- Encourage innovation. Employees may not volunteer their ideas because you haven’t created an environment where they feel like their opinion counts. Include staff in your brainstorming meetings, ask their opinions on new products or services, and put them in charge of carrying out these projects. Does your team want the company to be greener? Put someone in charge of creating a new recycling program. The increase in responsibility will build self-confidence and new leadership skills.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports