Employees are any company’s greatest asset, but for small businesses, great employees are truly the life blood of the place. Good employees that are positive and motivated can help your business to secure loyal customers and keep things running smoothly. Keeping your best employees consistently motivated can be tricky, but is important – top employees have been found to be more likely to quit than lower performing employees.

Work to Consistently Keep Engagement High

Good employees have obviously already mastered the fine points of their positions, so it is imperative to find ways to challenge them and keep engagement levels high. Letting top performers brainstorm new ways for improvement in the business and then giving them the tools they need to live out those ideas is a winning strategy. While there is only so much room for promotion in a small business, making top employees feel like partners can help to keep them engaged and feel valued.

Pay More than the Industry Average

Compensation affects every aspect of an employee’s life, so it is important to make sure that your employees feel comfortable with their compensation. Paying employees slightly more than the industry average and giving frequent raises can help to keep employees from straying to other companies willing to pay more. Be sure to make raises worthwhile and talk to employees about why they are getting a raise so that they understand how valued their good performance really is.

Continue to Recognize Great Performance

Top performers may become complacent when their willingness to go above and beyond begins to be expected rather than appreciated. Be sure to consistently recognize great performance, even if the recognition consists of nothing more than a pat on the back. Whenever possible, provide incentives or bonuses to show good employees that performing well for you really pays.

Hold All Employees Accountable for Poor Performance

Many employers make the mistake of failing to hold top performers accountable for sporadic poor performance, and also failing to hold poor performers accountable for their performance. Top performers may begin to feel that their standard good performance allows them leeway to slack sometimes, or they may begin to feel frustrated for carrying much of the weight when working with lower performing employees. Keep performance standards consistent and hold employees accountable whenever performance falls below these standards.

Consider Quality of Life and Stay Flexible

Employees have a life beyond the walls of your business and the amount of stress involved in that life has a direct impact on the employees’ performance while at work. Things like late paychecks, shifts scheduled less than 12 hours apart, more than five days of work scheduled consecutively, and a lack of consistency in job tasks are unfortunate side effects of working for a small business. All of these things can cause employee burnout. It’s best to communicate effectively if one of these eventualities occurs and by staying flexible when great employees’ lives interfere with work, you may keep your employees loyal and motivated.

There are many ways to keep your best employees motivated, but all of them require good communication. If you sense that motivation is lagging in your best employees, talk to them and find out how you can renew their enthusiasm for your business.