By Ana Lopez

While competitive salaries, monetary raises, and benefits can contribute greatly to employee satisfaction, a strong company culture proves just as important to retaining employees. Not only that, but happy employees work harder and are more motivated and successful at their jobs than those who are unhappy, especially within smaller companies.

If you want to build a supportive company culture without spending a fortune, check out these easy tips to show your employees some much-needed appreciation.

1. Implement mini work breaks during the workday.

According to the Draugiem Group, the perfect formula for productivity includes working for 52 minutes and breaking for 17. While this may not be the exact amount that you’re looking to promote, encourage short breaks so that employees can feel refreshed and less stressed throughout the day.

2. Remember the big events – and the little ones, too.

Baby showers, birthdays, and work anniversaries — it all counts. Employees want to feel that they matter and celebrating their important milestones lets them know that you care.

3. Hand out “money” for employees to cash in.

If employees consistently perform well, reward them fake money or tokens that they can redeem for perks like dressing casually for an entire week or doubling their lunch break time.

4. Feed them.

An easy way to your employees’ hearts? Their stomachs — so reward them with some free food from time to time. Cater lunch for the next tedious meeting, host Lunch and Learns, or order in some pizza on that night where you’re all working late.

5. Add some flexibility to their schedule.

Give a little leeway when it comes to work schedules and balancing family or personal issues. “As long as the employee is deserving and doesn’t abuse the privilege, this can go a long way to building trusting and mature relationships with key workers,” said Richard Martin, president of Alcera Consulting Inc.

6. Perk it up with parking.

For an easy way to show public recognition, reserve a special parking spot close to the company door for a month for an employee who performs well.

7. Ensure you have the right people.

While company culture varies from company to company, having the right people is critical for every business. Working alongside the right people allows for better working relationships and smoother internal processes. You can find the right talent from recruiting companies specific to your industry. Your current employees will thank you when you hire the next all-star that perfectly fits into your team.

8. Acknowledge the extra effort.

If you have an employee that went above and beyond on a project, let them know how much it was appreciated. From buying them a gift to providing them with free chair massages in the middle of their busy day, any form of thanks will be welcomed.

9. Start a “Morphing Trophy.”

What the heck is a morphing trophy? Mike Michalowicz In an article he wrote about employee appreciation, the CEO of Provendus urges companies to recognize an employee every week with a big trophy, and at the end of the week, each awardee must return the trophy with one added thing to it. “Then next week give it to the next winner. At the end of the year, you’ll have a trophy with 52 things stuck to it. It looks hysterical and has lots of memories.”

These simple suggestions can go a long way to increasing employee satisfaction, reducing costly employee turnover, and revamping your company’s productivity for a stronger-knit work community. But remember, all these tips are useless if they don’t go hand in hand with the easiest and most cost-effective way to show employee appreciation: a genuine thank you.