It is common for big name companies and organizations to host major employee appreciation events and to provide rewards for performance or length of time with the company. However, not all businesses can afford to show that much love—even though the appreciation is there.

If you want to keep the talent you have, its not the thought that counts—you’ll need to get creative with how to show your employees appreciation when you are on a small business budget.

Here are some ways to show you appreciate the work your employees do without putting your company’s finances at risk.

  1. Say it. Tell employees you appreciate their hard work. Verbalize that you recognize the effort they have been putting in and do so openly. A little bit of gratitude and appreciation can go a long way. And just knowing that their efforts are being seen can have a monumental impact on employee loyalty. Why leave for something bigger if they’ll just get lost in the crowd?
  2. Start a Recognition Ritual. In addition to regular confirmations, having a routine ritual, like “Employee of the Month”, can help fuel staff recognition and feelings of appreciation. Tying in a small bonus or gift can further express your appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a Rolex; a gift card (aim for $25 or more) to the employee’s favorite store, restaurant, or coffee shop adds an extra touch of personalization.
  3. Recognize more than numbers. Being with the company for X amount of years or having X amount of sales during the month are impressive, but your employees should be more than just numbers to you. Recognize traits or tasks an employee has done—like coming to work in a good mood and lifting everyone’s spirits or picking up an extra shift on the weekend. Go out of your way to recognize when one of your employees has gone out of their way to go above and beyond for your company.
  4. Write it like you mean it. Skip the S. at the end of the email—write out a thank you in a card or note and your gesture will have a larger impact. You may even see it later pinned on their cubicle wall or on their desk.
  5. Give back. Match your employee’s efforts with something they will truly appreciate (and probably want). For example, pay for the whole office’s lunch when everyone has been putting in extra hours to get a project completed or give a paid Friday off to the employee who came in over the weekend. Cash bonuses are always nice but gifts that are more personal are more memorable.