Five ways to reward your employees without spending a dime

Many managers think that the only way they can reward employees is with a higher salary or bigger bonus. However, the best bosses know how to motivate and empower employees without spending a dime. What really counts is showing appreciation and recognition.


  • Recognition means acknowledging an employee in front of his or her peers for an accomplishment.
  • Appreciation focuses on expressing gratitude to someone for his or her actions.

Do not diminish the importance of recognition and appreciation as integral components of a winning strategic reward system. These two elements rarely receive the attention they deserve from managers, which is amazing because they are low-cost efforts that provide a high return.

Here are five simple, proven ways you can use recognition and appreciation to reward your employees.

  1. Use your words. Send a personal, handwritten note to employees who deserve acknowledgment. (To request a supply of Symbria note cards, please contact HR Administrative Support Assistant Clara Hook at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

  2. Build a culture of success. Show a sincere interest in your employees – and invest in their success – by providing opportunities for them to gain new skills.

  3. Catch them in the act. When you observe an employee doing something right, make a point of praising him or her in the moment.

  4. Go public. When employees do something great, recognize them by making a public statement of thanks in front of their co-workers or team.

  5. Give thanks. The simplest and most profound reward you can give is to stop by an employee's work area to say "thank you."

Take the time to recognize your employees and show your appreciation. The cost may be nothing, but the payback is great.

Adapted from 20 Ways to Reward Your Employees Without Spending a Dime and The Best Ways to Reward Employees.