Editor's Note: Ask the Expert is a new column in which experts answer reader questions about starting, running and growing a business. Here, we introduce Adam and Matthew Toren and invite you to post your questions to the comments section below or on Twitter using the hashtag #YEAsk. Your query might be the inspiration for a future column. For a previous Q&A, read "6 Tips for Closing the Generation Gap"

Q: How do we win over the hearts of uninspired staff?
-- Fayaazo Ahmed Ameer, South Africa

A: A very good question -- particularly as we're in the throes of summer, when thoughts of vacation and longings for lazy beach days creep in. But keeping your employees motivated, inspired and productive should be a top goal for any organization -- no matter the season.

Here are five ways to root out downers and leave your shop inspired and productive:

  • 1. Create a list of employee rights.To amp up your work environment, this list should include the right to a comfortable work environment, managers who behave professionally and an immediate and fair response to any grievances. Workers should also receive regular performance reviews that include setting expectations and goals for every employee.
  • 2. Build opportunities for initiative. Employees without opportunities to use their brains can get discouraged. By encouraging your team to think for themselves they will become more engaged. For example, instead of telling an employee every step to take in completing a task, assign the responsibility for the end results and let them tackle it their own way. Offer small bonuses or gifts such as dinner for two at a local restaurant for good ideas that save the company money. Encourage employees who work together to meet regularly to discuss how to work more efficiently -- and pay for snacks during the meetings. You want your employees to feel valued, and listening to them is a big step in that direction.
  • 3. Share the big picture with employees.If the industry is changing, provide opportunities to learn about the new demands or characteristics. Share your strategic plans and initiatives with everyone who works for you. Help them see their role in the company's success. The more you share, the more connected your employees will be. And be honest. If times are tough, include them in that insight. They may have good ideas that could help the situation improve.
  • 4. Let them share in your success. Had a good year? How about a bonus for all of your employees? If you land a special client or make a big sale, celebrate with your employees with a special party at the end of the day with cake or some special treats. By making them feel that they helped the company succeed and that you recognize that, you encourage your employees to understand their value to you and your organization.
  • 5. Inspiration and energy needs to come from you first. Let your employees see how committed you are to the business and it can inspire them to commit too. When you start to hear them talking about the company as "us" rather than "they," you know you're on your way.

What tips would you add for inspiring your staff? Leave a comment and let us know.

Ask the Expert: 6 Tips for Closing the Generation Gap

Submit your questions in the comments section below and the questions with the most "likes" from other readers will be answered. On Twitter, use the hashtag #YEask. In July, the Torens will answer the question that's most favored by YoungEntrepreneur.com readers each week for a month. Please include your first and last name, your location (city and state) and the name of your business in your comment.