It's well-known that happy employees are productive employees. People who are excited to show up to work are more focused, more innovative, and stay with their companies longer.

While most people agree on the need for healthy employee morale, there's a misconception that money is they only way to achieve it. Excessive bonuses, extravagant parties, and offices with high-end amenities can all boost an employee's mood in the short-term, but not every company can or should devote a significant portion of its budget to luxuries. Furthermore, you can pour money into morale boosters and still lose talented employees.

The best way to build happy teams is to create a culture of appreciation and fun. Here are ten simple and cost-effective ways to boost morale in your office.

1. Make a great first impression.

An employee's first day should reflect your company's culture. Pick out a simple gift that each new employee will receive (we give small plants or journals with our logo along with a gift card to a local restaurant) and include a handwritten note welcoming the person to the team.

2. Share a meal.

I have an office full of foodies and at-home chefs, so I like to show them my appreciation with food. We provide breakfast tacos at many of our staff meetings, keep fresh fruit in our kitchens, and host potlucks where employees show off their culinary prowess and enjoy each other's company for a couple of hours.

3. Pick surprise early-out days.

An unexpected hour or two of free time can do wonders for an employee on the cusp of feeling burned-out. The next time the weather is beautiful, let your team out a couple hours early to enjoy the day.

4. Acknowledge milestones.

A little acknowledgment goes a long way to remind someone that their job is important and appreciated, and keeping track of employee anniversaries is an easy way to let your team know that you're thinking about them. For every anniversary, send out a company-wide email noting a couple of fun facts about the person and the major contributions they make to the team.

5. Stay in touch.

Even if you're a leader with an open-door policy, it's crucial to schedule bi-weekly or monthly check-ins with your employees. Putting aside day-to-day topics, these check-ins are a time to gauge the emotional well-being of your employees and talk about their big-picture goals. Scheduling specific time for check-ins sends a message that each member of your team is worth your undivided attention.

6. Help your employees achieve.

It's not just aspiring CEOs who have a career path. All of your employees have aspirations in and outside of work, and it's in your company's best interest to keep them on the path to success. Help them find free or low-cost online courses that can increase their skill set, and ask them about their progress during the aforementioned check-ins.

8. Share successes.

Humility is a virtue, but if employees lose motivation to share their achievements because they always fall on deaf ears, they could start searching for a new place to work. My company sends out requests for people to share compliments they receive from clients, and we read them out loud at a monthly staff meeting.

9. Schedule time for in-house praise.

In addition to sharing praise received from our clients, we ensure that non-client-facing employees get recognition by scheduling a monthly Huddle where employees have the opportunity to publicly praise each other. They thank each other for help with difficult projects, give compliments for good attitudes, and congratulate each other on successes great and small.

10. Collaborate.

Every Friday, one of our conference rooms is open for employees from different departments to gather and work alongside one another. The day is usually a mix of work-related and non-work-related conversation, so it builds camaraderie among departments who may not otherwise see or hear from each other.

We all know that money can't buy happiness. If you approach employee morale by listening to your team and showing them gratitude, you'll create a happy company culture without breaking the bank.

Published on: Jan 20, 2017
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