Employees who do their job well, regularly meet company goals, and exceed expectations deserve to know how much they are appreciated. If they don't feel their hard work is recognized, they might be inclined to look for another job where they feel more valued. With this in mind, consider making every day "Employee Appreciation Day."

Loyal employees can make the difference between success and failure for a small business. Workers who feel valued are better at their jobs. They care more, and are more likely to go out of their way to solve problems that affect the company rather than just trying to get through the day. Employees who feel valued are likely to have better work attendance and stay with the company for a longer period of time.

Showing appreciation for employees’ efforts and initiatives can help build company morale, and keep those valuable employees happy and committed to the future of your business. It needn’t take a lot of money to show the company’s appreciation for employees’ innovation, dedication, and reliability. Here are some low- and no-cost benefits that today’s businesses use to show their appreciation for the teams that make them successful quarter after quarter.

1. Praise loudly. Simply recognizing an employee’s contribution with an announcement to other staff is not only free, but it also demonstrates that your company appreciates and recognizes employees’ contributions. Praise loudly when a job is well done. Let all employees know the company appreciates the team’s efforts.

2. Free lunch Fridays. Treat the team to a free lunch every Friday. Bring in some pizzas or sandwiches each Friday to show your company’s appreciation for the accomplishments of the week. Sure, it may cost the company a little, but those pepperoni pizzas may pay big dividends throughout the work week. (You may also see a downturn in “Friday Flu” sick days.)

3. Free car washes. Pick a few outstanding employees and have a professional car washing service shine up those commuter cars. Have the cars scrubbed clean in your office parking lot to show all employees that hard work and dedication pay off.

4. Family days. Some of your employees have families on their minds. They worry about taking time off when the kids are sick, or when a daughter has her first recital. Add a few Family Days to the workplace calendar – days employees can be absent to attend family events without losing sick days or vacation days.

5. Discounts. If you own a retail store or restaurant, offer employees a nice discount on the things you sell. You may get the loss of revenue back many times over with employees who like working as part of your company, and who enjoy tangible, money-saving benefits.

6. Create recreation space in the workplace. Put up a basketball hoop over a loading bay or add some card tables in the breakroom for games. Recreation in the workplace has an energizing effect on employees, and it shows your company cares about employee happiness.

7. Flex time. If possible, allow employees to name their own hours to fit in with their own lives. You may think there’s nothing more important than business, but your employees may have scheduling problems that can be fixed, by you, by adding flex time to employee benefits. Your staff will appreciate your understanding.

8. Pass on bulk buying discounts. Your company may get special discounts from the office supply store or electronics store. Pass on these discounts to your employees, who can save money without costing the business a penny.

9. Bring the family! Plan special holiday events – a Labor Day picnic or a Christmas party for employees and their families. These events will cost some business capital, but deliver benefits 12 months a year.

Finding the right people to do the job, recruiting these employees, and replacing employees who move on can be expensive. Chances are your company will save money by showing its appreciation to dedicated employees who stay in your company’s employ.

Congratulate them. Provide numerous incentives for a job well done, and keep the workplace flexible and fun. In the world of work, little things really do mean a lot.