Thanking them whenever it matters
Telling them that you appreciate all they do
Giving them gift certificates when applicable
Including them in making decisions
Giving them more responsibilities
Using the word please
Increasing their pay when deserved
Doing a nice random task for them: ie, getting their car washed.
As a former small business owner (and current contract fitness pro), here’s what I think is helpful:
1) Create and outline a corporate culture for all to see: values, overall expectations, practices, etc..so that all employees are aware of the environment they are entering and agree at the outset to be active participants.
2) Provide guidance and direction above and beyond the generic PT (or other) job description. For instance, ask employees for regular feedback and suggestions regarding programming, promotion, policy, or housekeeping decisions.
3) Schedule regular meetings and evaluations with employees, with opportunities for everyone to speak freely and constructively about their observations and experiences.
4) Offer rewards and/or compensation for top participants/performers. Everyone wants (and sometimes needs) and incentive to push a little harder (besides the inner self-satisfaction we all feel:)
Communication, communication, communication. And by that, I mean TWO-WAY communication. It is extremely empowering to ask for your staffs opinions on things, to engage them in processes and policies, and to encourage them to give suggestions on better ways to do things. Of course this does not mean that you will always implement their suggestions, however, giving them a voice and a say in how their workplace operates is very empowering.