8 Ways to Improve Employee Performance in Your Small Business

When your employees just don’t seem to care about what they do and put little effort into their jobs, it’s easy to blame it on the employee. Before you give up on ever finding anyone with a good work ethic, check out these eight things you should be doing to motivate and inspire your employees.

Do you ever feel like your employees are slacking off? Do they seem unmotivated, and show little or no initiative? Do you have some employees who show up, but seem to do as little work as they possibly can?

Before you blame the problem on the younger generation’s lack of work ethic, or just plain laziness, consider whether you and your company are doing all you should be doing to motivate your employees and make them feel needed and important.

Here are eight things you should be doing to accomplish those goals.

  1. Give all your new hires a packet or written handout that explains your company, work culture, policies, and guidelines for interacting with customers, suppliers, and others with whom you do business. This sets your expectations early on. Employees really want to do a good job, but without clear guidelines they may not know what is expected of them.
  2. Establish an employee training program and delegate someone to carry it out. This will involve making your more vested employees feel more valued by giving them additional responsibilities. Have them train new employees on using the equipment, handling customer service complaints, and taking care of other routine details. A training program can go a long way to making your employees feel they are a part of a company that knows where it is going.
  3. Delegate. By giving people additional responsibilities, no matter how small, you are letting them know they are valued. Employees appreciate that, and they work harder when they know someone appreciates their efforts.


  1. Once a year, have a company picnic or get-together outside of the office environment. Give your employees a chance to socialize away from work, and present them with performance incentives.
  2. For every new task or responsibility you hand out (and you should increase employee responsibilities as much as is feasible), establish your expectations right up front. Manage your expectations every step of the way to ensure that employees understand your end goal and know that you are watching. You have a responsibility to help your employees grow into the best version of themselves they can be. If they see you doing that, they’ll work harder to meet your expectations.

RELATED: 7 Mistakes that Could Drive Your Star Employees Out the Door

  1. Be honest. Nothing builds trust better than telling the truth. If an employee isn’t good at something, don’t be afraid to let them know. But do show some empathy. You have your weaknesses too.
  2. Don’t show favoritism. Even if you have a favorite employee, don’t let others see that. Treat everyone the same regardless of attitudes and employee skills. That doesn’t mean you should let the bad apples spoil the bunch. Discipline when necessary, but let it be known that you’d treat every other employee the same way if the situation called for it. You’ll earn their respect and their loyalty when you treat everyone the way you’d want to be treated.
  3. Have a system in place for dealing with negative situations. It’s not something you want to think about, but every business has issues arise from time to time. Have a plan before it happens. If employees feel like you are being arbitrary, they will not want to work for you. If they know expectations up front and the consequences for violating your guidelines, then they are more likely to steer clear of those consequences. They will work harder to please you. Go out of your way to be consistent and fair and end every negative counseling session with an action plan for improving employee performance.

RELATED: How to Manage Employee Conflicts in a Small Business

At the heart of every employee is someone who feels either valued or devalued. Employees who feel valued are more likely to give you their best. Those who feel devalued are more likely to slack off or develop a lackadaisical attitude. You have it in your power as manager of your business to empower your employees to be more productive, efficient, and diligent.

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