How Improving Your Rest Improves Your ProductivityThere’s no shortcut when it comes to creating a successful startup. It requires hard work–and lots of it. Entrepreneurs and startup leaders are notorious for putting in long hours, and many of them ask the same of their employees.

If you’re asking your team to come in early, stay late and work on the weekends, you’ll definitely be productive – but you may also run the risk of burning out your employees. To prevent burnout, and to keep your team happy, healthy and productive, consider these 6 tips for motivating employees. With a little creativity, you can keep your employees happy and hardworking, while also reducing burnout and unnecessary stress.

Provide incentives with real value

In order to effectively motivate your employees, you need to know what drives them. Have a quick meeting with each employee and ask about what they hope to get out of their job. Find out whether they’d prefer more money or time off, if given the choice. Are there any other perks they would appreciate? Perhaps it’s something that would cost little but mean a lot, like lunch out once a month. If you take the time to talk with your employees, they’ll tell you what incentives they really want – and if you listen, they’ll be happier and more productive on the job.

Make employees feel like part of the team

Employees are more satisfied in their jobs (and more likely to stick around) when they feel like they’re making a valuable – and valued – contribution. Make them part of the team, so they feel like they have a place. To show employees that they’re needed, ask for their input on important issues – and then actually listen to what they have to say. Allow employees to contribute to decision-making processes, so that later they can look back and think, “I was part of that.”

Surprise your team

There’s no better way to brighten your employees’ day than with a small surprise. Simple gestures, like bringing in donuts and coffee on Monday morning or shutting down the office for an occasional half day, show people that you care. And these gestures don’t have to be expensive – adjust expectations to fit your startup’s budget. Consider a team lunch out, gift certificates to local restaurants, or an afternoon away from the office for a change of pace.

Prioritize family time

One of the biggest causes of burnout? Too much time spent away from families. This is especially true in startup companies, where employees are often asked to work long hours during the week as well as on weekends. However, there are ways to prioritize family time without sacrificing productivity. Consider allowing employees to work from home one day a week, or letting them set their own schedules. You can also try starting the workday earlier so employees can be home for dinner, limiting weekend work, and inviting family members to stop by the office.

Share your success

If your company makes it big, make sure not to forget who helped along the way. Your team is working hard toward business goals, just like you are. When you reach your goals, share the success with them. Consider profit-sharing, giving employees bonuses or small stakes in the company, or commissions. If employees know that they’ll see a reward when and if success is reached, they’ll be more motivated to work hard for it.

Get big results, without burning out

Motivating employees essentially comes down to three things. You need to find out what they want, think of creative ways to help them get it, and make them a valued part of your team. Do this, and you’ll get the results you want – while keeping your team happy and (relatively) stress-free.

What do you do to minimize stress and employee burnout? Tell us in the comments below.

Abby Perkins is a Managing Editor at Talent Tribune, a blog dedicated to all things HR.