We all know incentives are important. Everyone wants to feel appreciated \u2014 that\u2019s just human nature. A 2016 WorkHuman Research Institute report \u201cThe ROI of Recognition in Building a More Human Workplace\u201d shows that recognition not only makes employees happier at work \u2014 but also outside the workplace, with 70% of employees surveyed stating it makes them happier at home. Perhaps less obviously, it also contributes to trust in leadership. While nearly 90% of people who receive timely recognition or thanks from their boss indicate higher levels of trust in that boss, only 48% of employees who receive no recognition indicate they trust their higher-ups. While a \u201cthank you\u201d is the simplest \u2014 and freest \u2014 form of recognition, many of us want to also show appreciation through more formalized incentives. However, finding the resources to compete with the kind of flashy rewards corporate giants can provide \u2014 especially when you\u2019re just a small team or start-up \u2014 can be tough. Luckily, some of the best things in life are free (or at least cheap). Consider these five mighty incentives for the budget-conscious: 1 Bonuses. Obvious, maybe, but less obvious is that they don\u2019t just have to be for your sales team. Attract top talent (and scare away incompetent tirekickers) with performance-based pay for all. For example, you can incentivize employees for achievements like keeping a new project on schedule. Just make sure that bonuses are based on metrics employees can control or you may be setting them up for failure (which is unlikely to make them feel appreciated). 2 Time for development. Give your team time off during work for personal development such as learning a new skill, engaging in mentoring opportunities, speaking at conferences or volunteering. It may cost a few hours of productivity, but you\u2019ll get that investment back when employees gain valuable skills and grow their professional networks. 3 Profit sharing. When your team does well, your company does well, so why shouldn\u2019t the reverse be true? Profit sharing is also a good way to ensure that people stick around for the long haul. 4 Meaningful work. Lastly, providing your people with meaningful work is not only free; it\u2019s also a more significant motivator than any carrot or stick. A 2015 Harvard Business Review article \u201cMeaningful Work should be Every CEO\u2019s Top Priority\u201d identifies three specific types of meaning to consider: \tMeaningful work \u2014 how employees believe in and contribute to the mission of the organization; \tMeaningful connections \u2014 deep relationships with colleagues and clientele; \tMeaningful progress \u2014 feeling a sense of accomplishment. 5 Flexibility. Generous vacation leave, flex time, remote work and sabbaticals can help improve work-life balance for your team.