Small teams and few employees, mean staff's willingness to work hard and as a team is essential to small business success.
Business training company David Foreman director Stuart Sinclair said good staff engagement came down to getting staff to want to come to work.
"Recognise and reward good behaviour - actively look for reasons to praise people."
Whatever their motivation staff should want to work hard and produce results, he said.
"This may be so you'll provide them with a good reference, or because they want to be more successful in their career."
This was neither difficult nor costly, he said.
"I'm staggered by how much loyalty $30 movie tickets can buy."
Wellington startup incubator Creative HQ business strategist Alan Hucks said limited funds meant many owners were often unable to offer financial incentives and monetary rewards.
Instead, he said, they could either help staff achieve personal and career milestones, or let them buy into the company through stock or equity.
"Spend time familiarising yourself with employees' goals and how you can help them achieve them."
As most small businesses have less than 20 staff, the ability to work together was essential to success.
"You want everyone rowing the boat in the same direction and have the team know they can reach a personal or career goal in the process," Hucks said.
Business Psychology owner Richard Motet said owners needed to lead by a positive example.
"People flourish when they have a sense of purpose, they can see what they're doing is important to the business."
This meant having zero tolerance for dishonesty, disengagement and poor performance. This needed to be applicable to all staff and owners themselves.
He said weakness was the quickest way to destroy morale.
"Hardworking employees will say ' how can they give that person so many let offs when we've worked our butts off for no recognition'."
- Fairfax Media