Every small business owner wants to boost productivity. Technology can help, but when employees don’t feel motivated, they are less likely to use their time to the fullest. By making your employees feel like part of the team, you’ll boost productivity and employee satisfaction as well.

Here are a dozen tips to motivate your employees:

1. Get to know one another


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Encouraging employees get to know each other outside the office will help build camaraderie. When employees feel have personal bonds, they’ll feel more accountable to each other and that  they’re a valuable part of a team.

2. Do something weird


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Having fun (and quirky) team events—a flash mob, holiday celebrations with funny themes, costume days—will let employees share another side of themselves with their coworkers. The closer connection will stimulate team building, increasing productivity as well.

3. Be a mentor


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You’ll always be looking up at something–or someone. Even if you aren’t the CEO of your small business, you have experience that is valuable to younger workers and new hires. Share it—your coworkers will be grateful for the guidance and feel inspired to work harder when they know someone is paying attention to their progress and rooting for them.

4. Give ’em a break


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A 15–20 minute break can greatly increase productivity. If employees are free to take a break when they aren’t feeling productive, they’ll be more likely to work harder after a few refreshing minutes of R&R.

5. Be flexible


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You don’t have to be this flexible, but being flexible about schedules tells employees that you value their lives both at work and at home. They’ll appreciate your generosity, and as a result, will be more likely to give their best at work.

6. Work together—and take other opinions into consideration


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A collaborative office works well only if it is truly collaborative. By listening to the ideas of your employees and coworkers, they will feel their voices are important.

7. Give perks


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Perks—an afternoon off, a casual day, donuts in the morning—are all small gestures that break up the routine and show appreciation for your employees and coworkers.

8. Make sure everyone feels valued


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Thank employees who have done an especially good job on a project, or go out of your way to empathize with and encourage a worker who has an extra-tough workload. If employees know that you recognize their efforts, they will be inspired to meet your expectations. Bonus: A handwritten thank-you note or card is so simple and easy, yet incredibly effective at showing appreciation.

9. Be a good communicator


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Rumors and anxieties thrive in workplaces with poor communication. Communicate regularly, about good things and not-so-good, and encourage employees to offer suggestions for improvement. By keeping communication open, you’ll foster an office environment where loyalty and teamwork are valued and the rumor mill is (hopefully) nonexistent.

10. Compliment the success of others


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In team meetings, be sure to point out employees who have done a particularly good job on a project. Knowing that you value the success of one team member will inspire the others.

11. Make sure the big picture is clear

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When employees understand a goal, they’re more likely to feel inspired to work toward it. Making sure your employees see the big picture helps them to share your goals and feel their work is important to achieving them.

12. Be understanding when missing work is inevitable


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Be compassionate and concerned when an employee has a crisis or emergency. Make sure your employees know that the missed days won’t be held against them. (P.S. – This should apply to sick days and vacations as well. Try to arrange for a sick employee to work from home, if they need to, instead of bringing germs to the office. And as for vacation days, everyone needs a break and will be reenergized when they come back.)

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