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Eight Ways to Show Your Employees the Love

Posted: November 26, 2008

Thanks to the struggling economy, many small business owners are putting a freeze on raises and bonuses. But according to Ed Hess, entrepreneurial expert, and Charles Goetz, a distinguished lecturer in entrepreneurship at Goizueta Business School, Emory University, that makes it all the more critical to show your appreciation in other ways if you want them to stick around for the long haul.

America may be in one of the longest economic tough periods in recent decades, but if you're a small business owner, you know that doesn't mean less work for you. On the contrary, it means there's much more. You're hustling to attract more clients, bending over backwards to keep the ones you have, and scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day tasks that keep the business working. If you're lucky, you don't have to shoulder this extra work on your own, because you have a team of hard-working employees toiling right alongside you. But here's the real question: In the (understandable) absence of raises and bonuses, how long can you expect them to stick around?

Many small business owners wrongly assume that employees respond only to money, a belief that's distressing indeed in these cash-strapped days. In times like this, it is important to go back to basics and remember that employees want the same things owners want: to be appreciated, to be listened to and respected, to have a chance to be all they can be, and to be part of something special.

"Did your second grade teacher make you feel good by paying you money?" says Hess. "No, she gave you a gold star to commemorate your achievement and told you what a great job you did. That principle works in the business world too.

"There are many great ways to keep up employee morale and build loyalty that can cost you very little or even nothing," adds Goetz. "You just have to pay attention to your employees' needs and be creative."