In this busy time of year we need quick things that we can do to keep our employees motivated. Here are some ideas to keep worker morale high — things you can do to say thanks that don’t take a lot of time or money.

Most of these involve cash awards. Remember that cash awards are not long-term motivators. The cash “evaporates.” Things are remembered much longer.

It might be crazy to suggest time off at this time of year. However, it is a possible motivator for your office personnel, if not for those in the field. Give the office personnel a deadline for tasks that have to be accomplished (e.g., all of the financials finished by a certain time, all of the service tickets processed by a certain time, etc.). If they finish the task before the deadline, let them take the rest of the afternoon off.

Going home early one day can do wonders to boost morale.

Another way to do this is to pay for lunch when specific tasks are accomplished. If you know that a technician is running overtime calls, buy his dinner. Or, if he is running weekend calls, buy his lunch.

Say thank you

When you catch an employee doing something right, put $5 or $10 with a personal thank-you note inside an employee’s desk drawer or service ticket holder. Remember to handwrite the note to make it more personal.

Coupons also work well. The question that you have to answer is, do you want the employee to benefit from the coupon, or the employee’s spouse to benefit? Sometimes it’s more important to make the spouse happy — especially if there has been a lot of overtime. You can give them a coupon or gift certificate towards the purchase of a tool at a supply house, a meal at a local restaurant, a night at the movies, or a video rental. You could even provide tickets for baseball games or other sporting events. I’ve often advocated sending a thank-you note to the spouse or significant other when an employee is working a lot of overtime. One company I know includes a $20 bill with the note.

Another company even lets its employees earn one month’s mortgage payment.

Alert the media

Make use of the media to reward and congratulate employees. Last week Bert Ellis, the Chairman of iXL, Inc., an Internet marketing and communications firm, took out a quarter page ad in theWall Street Journalwhen the president of his company won first place inConsultingmagazine’s consultant contest. You can put an ad in the local paper to congratulate your employees for a job well done. Your customers will see it too.

One of the most successful radio ads that I ever wrote talked about “this great guy Mike,” the top service technician at the company I was working with. He got some ribbing from the other technicians, but the customers started asking for him by name. He also appreciated the vote of confidence.

Quick, inexpensive motivating activities will make the long, hot summer more endurable for your employees — and make the bond between the employee and your company even stronger.