It's no secret that lots of companies throw out bonuses, thinking this will suffice. A Harvard Business School study confirms that although U.S. companies spend a fifth of budget on wages, 80 percent of American employees don't feel recognized or rewarded through money.

That's not to say cash incentives aren't well received. The delivery and messaging is important though.

Earlier this month, we all celebrated National Employee Appreciation Day--it's the first Friday of March every year. Seeing that date on my calendar made me laugh. Employee appreciation means a lot to my company. I think it should be in effect every day.

Gifts, memberships or vouchers are all good things to give recognition to your employees. It's more than that though.

Here are six strategies to show a little more appreciation:

1. A gold star 

At my agency, we have the "Star of the Month Award." The winner is picked through our peer-to-peer feedback system. Team members leave a digital 'thanks' to each other, congratulating them on their efforts--the system we use also allows us to pick badges which align to our four pillars. The winner receives the statue on their desk for the month after being presented with it in the team meeting.

This kind of recognition goes a long way. It's cheap and effective. If it runs efficiently with some ownership. It should promote a certain level of work employees should aspire to achieve for them to win. Challenging their competitive side. 

Receiving gratitude off your peers for a job well done makes the team stronger because of the positive attitudes. Because it's all volunteer it makes it feel more genuine. 

2. Feed them

We all hit that 2:30 pm wall. Feeding your staff is a great way to fuel their brain. Offering a free beer or wine after a long day at the office normally goes down well, too. 

Companies like Indeed, Spotify, Lithium Technologies, Squarespace, and many more all provide their employees with free meals and snacks throughout the working day. Free lunches always taste better. So it's bound to create a happier workplace. It also encourages some extra team collaboration by eating at the same times.

Sweets and chocolate machines are a cheap and happy way of offering constant treats on demand. A supply of fresh fruit can also be received quite well--and avoids the office stigma around unhealthy diets. 

3. Time well served  

It's important to celebrate how long your staff has worked at the company. It just shows you recognize their hard work and that their commitment hasn't gone unmissed.

For instance, the creators who brought you World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment, do this excellently. They give employees unique gifts depending on how many years of service they've racked up. For example, after five years, you receive an actual sword.

Keep a note and remind yourself of your employees' benchmarks, approaching their five years, 10 years, 20 years, and so on. Think creatively. Tailor a reward to your company's line of work.

4. Express yourself

Externally, your social channels are probably thriving through all the work, commitment, and strategy that's been put behind them. Consider sharing the achievements of employees as a social post--they deserve a shout-out to your following.

It'll encourage peer-to-peer appreciation, too. Make your employees feel your support and they'll support you.

5. Feed it back

At my agency, we regularly send surveys to our employees using OfficeVibe. It's a quick and easy platform that allows you to create questions specific to your team. Questions like Do you feel supported within your role? and Do you feel as if your work contributes to the company's overall mission? Whether your employees answer anonymously or not, it's important that they feel valued when you're taking onboard their comments.

Push for feedback concerning all elements of the business. There are a number of ways you can do this but just by showing you're trying goes a long way. 

Aim to put in place how you plan to tackle their feedback. Make it a well-oiled machine that only works if they offer up their thoughts and feelings. 

6. Leveling up 

Encouraging employees to progress further within your company shows that you see them as a fundamental part of the team. They feel rewarded, and you feel as if you've succeeded in leading them there.

Provide the opportunity for your staff to experience different sectors of the business. Show your appreciation by allowing them to develop in their career with the path they want to take.

You could offer mentoring sessions across departments. This way they expand on their skillset too.

In terms of an actual promotion rather than dangling it in front of them as motivation. Give your employees the promotion they deserve straight after they've exceeded expectations, as a reward.