SME Growth Plateaued? Try This Approach to People Management To Spur Your Business Forward

How to re-motivate employees

When you’re running a business of any size, but in particular a small or medium firm, you can reach something of a plateau or impasse within the first 3-5 years. If your SME growth has plateaued then try this approach to people management to spur your business forward:

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Hitting the plateau

Sales are good, they’ve grown and revenues are stable. You’ve increased your number of staff accordingly and a small profit is starting to trickle in on a monthly basis. 

But without major investment in the recruitment of more staff or developing new operating systems or product ranges, you know it’s going to be difficult to hit that next level - without mass investment.

This is a critical period in a businesses development where decisions made will either make the company or break it.

Another impasse that business owners may come across is the motivation levels of their staff, especially those that have been there from the start. It takes a special level of candidate to work in and help drive a start-up forward - someone who’s passionate to the cause and company mission. Someone who sees the potential for personal growth and achieving career goals by working hard, often staying late, striving to over-deliver and ultimately, sharing your own passion as leader in the business.

But what happens after that initial 3-5 years of rapid growth and wearing all the hats at once? Motivation can start to fade away. That ‘challenger’ mentally can wear off.

So whilst gaining extra investment would be one option to move your business beyond the current plateaux that many start-ups experience once they’re established, there is another option.

Re-engaging those team members that have been with you from the start and motivating them to become even more productive will help create that extra working capacity to deliver more projects and improve profit margins as a result.

And that alternative is called social employee recognition.

Recommended reading: Improve Productivity, Profitability and Customer Satisfaction by Implementing This One Strategy (And It Doesn’t Cost The Earth)

What is social employee recognition?

Social employee recognition is a people management strategy that focuses on recognising individuals and teams for their performance and achievements.

Whilst many SMEs will be aware of traditional employee recognition strategies, which often revolve around the giving of rewards for top performers, social recognition goes deeper and taps into what employees really want in their job - to feel appreciated and that their efforts are recognised.

There has been plenty of wide-ranging studies that highlight how employees value this level of recognition over the majority of other job factors, including bonuses and other monetary schemes, especially amongst younger workforces.

And a recent report by Gartner uncovered how employee engagement comes out top in terms of positive business impact when it comes to people management, above policy compliance and performance incentives.

But just how would running a social employee recognition program boost your business and help beat that SME plateau?

It’s all a question of engagement.

Recommended reading: 5 Reasons Why Businesses Don’t Recognise Employee Efforts (and 5 Reasons Why They Should)

Increased employee engagement = better business outcomes

Employee engagement is the desired end result of any staff perks or recognition strategy. It’s the long-term business benefit that drives employee performance and supports exceptional work.

It’s the first step to creating real work passion within staff, from the top of the managerial pyramid right down to the core workforce.

More engaged staff are highly motivated, they inspire other team members and they’re highly driven. They have more company loyalty too which will have long-term benefits for your recruitment costs.

And engagement has been shown to help support staff who are prone to feeling stress, meaning less employee burnout and long-term absences.

But with all business advice articles, the proof really is in the pudding. So, here are some stats to showcase exactly why creating a highly engaged workforce through a program of social recognition will benefit your business:

  1. Engaged employees are nearly three times less likely to be searching for new employment (Gallup)
  2. Companies with high levels of employee engagement outperform those with low levels of engagement by over 200% (Business2Community)
  3. Businesses with highly engaged workers have a 6% higher net profit margin (SHRM)
  4. Disengaged employees cost businesses around $500bn each year (The Engagement Institute)
  5. Staff engagement strategies can boost profitability per employee by $2,400 a year (Workplace Research Foundation)

And one you might not expect…

  1. Businesses with highly engaged employees can see 26% greater annual revenue and over 230% higher customer loyalty (Aberdeen)


Moving your business forward doesn’t just rely on how much investment you can get in. Ensuring employees are well recognised, appreciated and as such fully engaged will help deliver positive benefits across your business and could be one of the missing links your company needs to make the next step forward.

Over to you now. Have you implemented anything like employee recognition to help improve people management in your business? Tell us in the comments below. 

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Manchester, UK

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