Everyone likes to be recognized for having done a good job; it’s just human nature. Having happy employees is important to having a successful business.

Having said that, I realize that we all can’t have lavish company parties at The Ritz Carlton, where everyone is dining on steak and lobster while washing it down with $200 bottles of champagne. Yes, you can recognize your employees and reward them without going broke.

Here are a few things I do at my company.

Reward employees with restaurant gift cards. These are an easy way to say, “Thank you for a job well done.” You can get restaurant gift cards almost anywhere. You can usually get them for $25 or more. Some restaurants will give you bonus gift cards if you buy a certain dollar amount of regular gift cards. This is nice because you can either add them to the gift cards you pass out or you can keep them and use them yourself.

Have a cookout. I usually do this a few times a year on a gas grill at my shop. I have about 20 employees, and I can get burgers, hot dogs, chips, macaroni salad, cookies and soft drinks for around $150. Buy enough paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware for several cookouts. You will need them.

I fire up the grill at the end of the workday and cook the food as the crews come in. I stay until the last guy gets in, and I make sure that worker has a fresh burger or hot dog ready for them. Employees also get a kick out of watching me cook.

Let a foreman buy lunch. Yes, let your foremen buy lunch for their crews and then pay them back the same day or next morning. I have done this over the years and it goes a long way in boosting employee morale. The foremen look like heroes for getting lunch for the crews. Most guys order the pizza with their phones and have it delivered to the job so they don’t have to go get the food. Pizzas and soft drinks don’t cost all that much.

Share a good book. I have bought books for my employees over the years. I know this will not work for everyone who works for you, but I have given some books to my employees that they really enjoyed. I usually will give them leadership books, biographies and inspirational books. You can get books for less than $20.

Money cards are always appreciated. Prepaid debit and credit cards are very popular with my employees. It’s just like giving them cash. I like to give these out around the holidays, and I will admit that I usually spend more on these than the restaurant cards. These are also nice because you can tailor them to your budget. They come in anywhere from $25 up to $500.

We have also rented out a winery, gone to baseball games and had catered parties at our shop. At the end of the day it’s all about having a positive work environment and culture. I feel all of these have been appreciated by my employees and have helped foster a better work environment within my company.

I am sure there are lots of other ideas out there. Let me know what’s worked for you.