People love to be rewarded for exceptional performance, but recognition can come in many forms.

Knowing the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can make sure you praise your team effectively. In a recent study, 88 percent of employees said praise from managers is very motivating, and 76 percent said praise from peers is equally motivating.

Whether you run a large company, lead a department, or manage a direct report, saying thanks when colleagues deliver great work can make a difference. But how do you find ways to recognize good work in a way that motivates and inspires your team? Here are some options to go beyond the usual “employee of the month” plaque without breaking the bank:

Health and happiness

When your team spends long hours on deadline, acknowledge that sacrifice with a small gift that improves their health and happiness. Wearable fitness trackers is one way to show employees that you value their well-being. Logikcull gave employees Fitbits during its Employee Appreciation Week “to help remind them to stay healthy and active, especially during stressful times,” says CEO Andy Wilson. There are other small ways to show you care. Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, says just bringing in breakfast every now and then can put people in a happier mood.

Reinvent back to school

Employees worthy of recognition want to keep learning on the job. Send them to training classes and conferences — they were the most popular perks in an Accountemps survey, gaining support from 45 percent of respondents. Or reward an employee with a local class or event. There also are online outlets such as CreativeLive or Udemy. You could even add a few equally stimulating options that have nothing to do with work, such as a session on making craft beer or learning a foreign language.

Make recognition a team effort

Red Velvet Events uses a crazy-haired troll doll to get employees involved in the recognition process. At its weekly meeting, an employee passes the doll to a colleague and tells the group about the great work the new recipient did. The doll’s guardian can embellish it with a new accessory, like earrings or a tattoo, and pass it along to another worthy employee at the next meeting. Adopt this idea by creating your own “mascot” — perhaps a stuffed animal, action figure, or special mug. Ask your team to customize it as it’s passed around and put your own twist on this tradition.

Social media shoutout

With the employee’s approval, post praise to your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter page. If appropriate, add a photo of the employee, perhaps with a sign that proclaims his or her big achievement. The employee can then share the recognition with his colleagues and friends. St. Louis Children’s Hospital does this, and even displayed the Facebook posts on a giant screen at its annual employee gala.

Celebrate thinkers

The employees whose great ideas sail to success tend to get all the recognition — but what about the people whose hard-working ideas flopped? These risk-takers are creative enough to test concepts that may one day put your company in high-growth mode, so show them a little love. India’s Tata Group created a “Dare to Try” award to promote creativity and stimulate innovation. When the company first offered the award in 2008, few teams applied because they feared being identified with failure. But once everyone saw the award winners on stage with the CEO, dozens of teams competed for the prize. Now, the company says some of those same risk-takers have guided successful projects.

For more inspiration (and some fun), you can glean ideas on how not to recognize employees in these spot-on videos from staffing firm OfficeTeam. Skip the cringe-worthy interpretive dance and stick to the safer ideas above — your employees will be forever grateful.

Antonio Gonzalez Antonio Gonzalez, a contributing author on Gusto, provides actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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