Q: I keep hearing that employee recognition is crucial to an engaged staff, but many of the employee recognition initiatives I’ve participated in don’t actually result in more satisfied employees. Is there a better way to accomplish employee recognition?

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A: The same way that customers no longer want a transactional relationship with brands, employees no longer want to merely punch a clock, but would rather participate in something meaningful at work. Recognition is an important part of exhibiting how an employee’s work matters to both the larger company and to you, their boss. But, as a recent Harvard Business School study uncovered, not all recognition is created equal.

Money (still) talks—make it meaningful

Lets face it, money will always be an important motivator for people. But there is a way to instill material with meaning and enhance its effectiveness. As an extrinsic stimulus, money incentivizes certain behavior through external factors, while intrinsic motivators like relationships and gratitude drive behavior through internal desires and beliefs. To make an extrinsic motivator more impactful, pair it with an intrinsic one. For example, when it comes time to communicate quarterly or yearly bonus results, write a personalized note to each bonus recipient outlining how their contribution positively affected the business. Not only will the employee enjoy the extra cash, but they will know exactly how their actions contribute to the greater good, and feel inspired to continue performing at a high level.

Give the gift of time

As the saying goes, time is money—and sometimes it’s actually more valuable than money. In retail, schedule stability is a rarity; you and your team are at the mercy of the needs of the business. That’s why giving an employee the ability to make their schedule for a week, or granting an additional paid day off, can be more impactful than a cash bonus or other material prize.

Share the love

Because you’re the leader, it’s expected that you recognize others for their efforts. However, sometimes peer recognition can be more powerful than acknowledgement from the top. There are a few ways to create a culture of peer recognition within your team. You can have team members vote anonymously in a sort of “employee of the month”-style program and then award the most recognized employee something meaningful like a gift certificate for a nice dinner. Or, you can create a program that encourages peers to recognize each other in a public way. For example, the Starbucks M.U.G. (Moves of Uncommon Greatness) Award can be given to anyone in the organization by anyone else at the company at any time. Recipients of the award proudly wear their M.U.G. pins on their hats or aprons. You can recreate this in your own environment with cards (physical or virtual) or a small token such as a keychain or pin.

Make it public—or not

A bit like the tree falling in a forest when no one is around, there are different schools of thought around whether it’s better to recognize team members publicly, in order to encourage their peers to do great work, or privately, in order to make it very personal and meaningful. It depends on the individual. You know your people best, and if you’re not sure, it’s okay to ask. Some people thrive on public accolades while others shrink back from that type of attention and your employees will appreciate the thoughtfulness if you check with them first.

Whether you go with one of the above suggestions or come up with your own, one thing is certain—your employees want to be recognized in some way when they are doing good work, and behavior that is rewarded is repeated. So, recognize away!