According to recognition expert Dr. Bob Nelson, you don't need to put out a lot of money to reward your employees. Group team building seminars or weekends away are not necessary to make your staff feel appreciated and confident. According to Dr. Bob, the most-effective rewards cost little or no money at all. Employees report that a simple thank you, delivered sincerely, is the #1 form of recognition.

If you want rewards to have the maximum effect, you need to look at each employee as an individual and give rewards that fit them personally. The one-size-fits-all approach often makes employees feel you see them as bringing nothing special to their job or to the organization and your customers.

Try the following recognition and rewards strategies in your organization. They are proven to be the very best way to show appreciation to employees so they know they are an important member of the team and that their efforts are truly appreciated:

Be positive

We've all experienced what it feels like to be thanked by a boss for doing something right ... and then immediately cut down a notch for doing something wrong. When you thank someone and then immediately follow it with a "but," everything before the "but" is discounted by the employee and everything after is amplified. Focus on the positives, and save the negative feedback for another occasion.

Be quick 

For recognition to be effective, it needs to be closely linked to the behavior being rewarded. This means rewarding an employee immediately when, for example, she goes above and beyond the call of duty on a customer service initiative. Don't wait a month or two after the fact. It will mean so much more to your people if you take the time to recognize their efforts as they are accomplishing great things.

Be specific

Generalities have no place when you're rewarding your employees. Point out the specific behavior that you are recognizing, and explain to the employee why you appreciate it: "You did a remarkable job pulling together the data for that marketing survey. Because of your excellent work, we were able to deliver our report to a key client ahead of schedule!"

Be personal

Effective leadership is all about building relationships and trust with your people. It's always best to convey your praise in person and publicly, in front of the employee's peers, whenever possible. If you can't arrange for a personal, face-to-face praising in a timely way, then use the telephone, Skype, or send an email, text message or handwritten note.

Be sincere 

Be sure your thanks are sincere and from your heart. The easiest way to do this is to offer thanks when you really are appreciative. Don't fake it when it comes to recognizing employees. People will see right through your lukewarm praise, and they will discount the recognition that you give them.