shutterstock_107632895_smIf you’re the leader of a small business, you’re probably an exceptionally focused person. No doubt you’re keen to draw maximum value from your most expensive resource – your employees. After all, if you can get each individual to produce exceptional results, your employees will benefit from an environment that’s highly profitable and full of opportunities. It’s a win-win!

What’s more, today’s business leaders know that exceptional output comes from creativity, teamwork, great planning, prioritizing, and relationship- building.  None of these are achieved when people are seriously fatigued. It’s best done by a workforce that feels refreshed and energized.

So, how do modern leaders of SMBs maximize the value from their people? How do they create an environment that is refreshing and energizing?

Challenge them.

People thrive on challenges. When you consider how people today spend their holidays or spare time, you’ll notice a common thread. Whether they are learning how to paint, or improving their skiing skills, or practicing a new language, people enjoy new challenges.

The human condition seems to hardwire into us a desire to improve ourselves or our surroundings. We seem to want to learn more and to be capable of more.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but challenges are hugely energizing.  Ensure you’re challenging your employees with new and different tasks whenever you can.

Give them meaning.

Similarly, people respond best when there’s meaning to their jobs. Even the simplest of tasks should have meaning.  The people who stuff envelopes need to know that any one of their mailings could result in a lead.

Good leaders should be able to draw a straight line between what any individual is doing, and what the core company goals are. If they can’t, or don’t, then people won’t be engaged, or energized.

Change things up every now and then.

Change, if handled carefully, can be hugely invigorating. People need to know the purpose for the change and what the consequences will be if the change is successful. Only by doing so, will people buy into a new task. Any activity that changes things for the better can be full of meaning and energizing!

Allow for time off.

Sometimes people just need to re-charge their batteries. The most effective leaders recognize this and are generous with holiday allowance. What’s more, they keep an eye out for people who have been pushing themselves and ensure they take an additional day off here and there to ensure they’re always highly effective and productive in the office.

Don’t forget to have some fun in the office!

Finally, don’t under-estimate the impact of fun. When people are genuinely engaged, motivated, and enjoying their work, it seems that there is nothing that can’t be achieved. Work hard to make your work place a pleasure to be in.  Spend time getting to know your people, finding out what makes them tick.  It will help you to ensure their working environment is a place they want to be.

Energizing your workforce is time well spent.  It’s only with energy that your people can become the greatest asset you need them to be.  What’s more, it’s energy that can become the key to your business success.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “energy and persistence conquer all things”.  It’s hard to ignore that!

Heather Foley is a consultant at, a UK-based HR consultancy, specializing in 360-degree feedback