I own a handful of local businesses that employ part-time and full-time team members.
This is a great question. Our businesses employ young people and this is a question we frequently ask ourselves. In our experience, there are a few things that seem to really matter:
Serve - This may be a little counter-intuitive but one of the biggest things a leader can do is serve their team. If you are obsessed with finding opportunities to serve, your team is going to feel motivated to work with you and to follow your lead. I also think this goes beyond just the workplace. A simple example of this could be: finding out where your employee is celebrating their wedding anniversary and buying them a bottle of wine or picking up the tab.
Vision - We've really tried to focus on our core values. Our businesses specifically serve families through a fun interactive experience and we spend a lot of time directing our team to focus beyond the product or experience by emphasizing that we are creating a space where families and friends can connect, as opposed to just being a fun experience.
Empower - We've learned that our team members want to be trusted and we've learned that once members have earned our trust it's incredibly rewarding for them to get to make decisions that impact our business. An example of this is a thing we call a BPA (Blow People Away) our goal is to get to know our customers and identify something that will make them feel special. We try to blow them away with our hospitality. The fun thing is that we've given our team a budget to do this so it gives them complete freedom to go for it when they find a customer to surprise.
Affirm - Team members love to know when they're doing good work. We have monthly team meetings at all of our locations and one of the first things we do is have all of our team members gather around and publicly affirm each other. It's always the best part of our meetings and it creates a culture of encouragement and unity.
Be Honest - We hold a very high standard for transparency and if we find out that there is a conflict between team members or expectations aren't being met, we are quick to go directly to the person. We have found that these conversations only get scarier as we let them sit in our heads and the coolest part about this is that when we have these conversations with each other it forges us together, ultimately creating an environment where people want to be.
There are so many ways to motivate employees but I hope these are helpful. I would be more than happy to discuss in more detail and chat through additional ideas.