If you’re a salon owner who’s short on cash but long on gratitude for your loyal staff, listen up. There are lots of ways to express your appreciation that don’t involve a bigger paycheck. What follows is NAILS’ Top 10 Ways to Give Your Employees a Boost and Show Them You Care, for Free. What’s mote, salon owners who take the time to reward others’ excellence are often rewarded themselves. Higher morale leads to higher productivity and increased employee retention.

1.  Offer flexible scheduling. Floating holidays, flex-time, split shifts, and part-time schedules are truly valuable benefits. Whether your technicians are working moms, avid hobbyists, or late sleepers, they’ll appreciate any accommodations you make to their special needs.

2. Pile on the praise. For the cost of stationery, you can reward an extra-special employee by writing a personal note commending her on a particular achievement. You may want to single out an employee who has increased her bookings or made a suggestion that saves the salon time or money.

3.  Reward seniority with special privileges. How about benefits such as holidays off, first choice of schedule, or perhaps the best parking spot?

4.  Allow employees to participate in a group health plan. Even if they have to pay the premiums themselves, employees could save premium dollars as part of a group plan. What’s more, someone who can’t get individual coverage due to a pre-existing condition may be able to qualify for group coverage.

5. Recognize employees publicly. Even a small business can start an “Employee of the Month” program. An inexpensive engraved plaque could be placed at the employee’s workstation or in the lobby for all customers to see. If a technician wins a competition, celebrate with a congratulatory sign in the window.

6. Be generous with titles. When a raise isn’t possible, sometimes a new job title can be used to recognize special duties and let an employee know she’s appreciated.

7. Acknowledge special occasions. Cards or small gifts for birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions are an inexpensive way to raise an employee’s spirits and contribute to the family atmosphere most salons strive to achieve.

8. Share the wealth. Gifts, discounted merchandise, and product samples should trickle down to deserving staff members.

9.  Allow snack time. Provide an area out of public view where employees can heat and eat lunches and snacks. If you have complimentary beverages for clients, you should extend this privilege to employees.

10. Provide skills support. Aid employees trying to better their skills by providing access to continuing education and training. Invite manufacturers’ educators to demonstrate new products and techniques.