Your five-step guide to inspiring employees

Heather Jennings

While the nature of running a small business means dealing with unexpected matters on the fly, it’s important to make time to foster your staff.

Here are five ways to inspire your employees.

Express your vision

One of the most effective ways to get employees excited about your business is to clearly communicate your vision, and then invite them to be a part of it.

Write a vision statement for your business if you have not yet done so and ask your employees for input on it. Your vision statement is usually a part of your overall business plan.

Without a clear vision, both you and your employees will get caught up in everyday details and lose sight of those big picture goals.

Encourage autonomy

Giving your staff more autonomy significantly increases their motivation, which has the knock-on effect of contributing to company success.

In fact, University of Illinois researchers found employees will commit to improving their company if they perceive a high degree of autonomy in their roles.

It’s difficult to give employees free rein in a small business, but there are ways you can make your staff feel more in control at work.

When assigning staff tasks, let them choose the way in which they will go about completing them.

Look for other decision making opportunities you can offer to employees – this can be anything from asking them to choose the weekly team meeting topic to deciding what’s on the Friday lunch menu.

Be an active listener

Actively listening means you are simply focusing on what your employee has to say and not already formulating a response in your head.

To develop trust and solve conflicts, listening to your employees is a must.

So when a staff member comes to you with an issue, set aside all distractions and take the time to hear them out.

Offer training

Developing the skills of your employees will help you retain staff and increase overall business productivity.

From short courses to Government-funded training such as the Industry Skills Fund, your business has a range of options to choose from.

Is your budget too tight for formal training? Consider asking a business associate, client or former colleague if they would be happy to come in and speak on a topic to your staff – they may have some unique stories to tell that will inspire and motivate your employees.


Make sure you praise and recognise your employees’ hard work in front of their peers on a regular basis.

This shows you appreciate their efforts while it also gives them a sense of pride in the business and encourages them to build on their personal work goals.

Heather Jennings

Heather Jennings is a Sydney-based journalist who writes about technology, finance and business for publishers including ninemsn, Yahoo7 and Thomson Reuters.