Your employees are your front line and the backbone of your company. Without them, where would your company be? 

But how often do you say thank you for a job well done? And how often do you recognize employees who go above and beyond to meet a deadline or exceed client expectations? 

The best employers are the ones who understand the importance of consistently recognizing the employee contributions that are a part of the company’s overall success.  

Recognizing your employees doesn’t have to mean handing out raises (although they’re always appreciated), and it doesn’t have to mean going all out either. In fact, it doesn’t even have to cost you a cent. Here are five free or low-cost ways you can recognize employees.  

1) Give written recognition. If a customer emails with kind words about an employee, copy that employee on your response. Or take a minute to hand write a note of thanks for a job well done. Small gestures like this go a long way. 

2) Show interest in life outside of work. Taking the time to build rapport with employees makes them feel valued. Ask about their weekend plans, kids’ baseball tournaments, family celebrations, etc. Just because you’re the boss, doesn’t mean you can’t have a friendly working relationship with your employees. Taking the time to do so makes employees happier. 

3) Single out exceptional actions.  Do something as simple as highlighting an employee of the month by hanging a picture in a communal area or, at a service-oriented company, highlighting customer survey responses that single out the exceptional actions of team members.  Both of these incentivize employees and show that management recognizes individual accomplishments. 

4) Provide regular feedback. Both constructive and positive feedback is essential for employees. It not only shows that you value your employees, but it also shows that you’re paying enough attention to their contributions to praise or suggest ways to grow and learn. 

5) Host lunch. Mark a major accomplishment or milestone with a lunch celebration. This not only rewards efforts, but also gives you a chance to build rapport in an informal setting. 

The bottom line is that taking the time to recognize your employees not only improves company culture, it also boosts morale, increases productivity and reduces turnover. 

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