"Last time I checked, 'Thank You' was still free."
I used it in one of my weekly "messages to the people" at work.
We're besieged by cost cutting/cost containment efforts on a weekly, almost daily basis - the "discretionary 401k match", off-shoring, travel restrictions, and our forced move to "self-help" in the IT and HR space. While it's instilled a financial discipline that on some levels is healthy and good for the long term success of our organization, anecdotally, it tries the soul of even the most patient and optimistic people.
Was reminded of it again today, when HR asked me to share some success stories. To be honest, the most positive feedback I've gotten on anything we've done broadly in our organization was around my weekly messages. Surprisingly, while people like paychecks and bonuses and 401k's you can still incent them to work with the occasional verbal appreciation and encouragement.
Made me think about how many other things we could do, at work, or in life, that make other people happy, productive, and more likely to give you 110%, but that cost us nothing, except for a little time, energy, and attention to detail.
Like taking time to acknowledge someone's hard work. Smiling at the person in the checkout line across from you. Letting someone cut in front of you, in a line, or in traffic. Holding a door for someone. Telling an anonymous stranger in the dressing room that the dress they've chosen looks great on them.
Oh, and saying "thank you." Because the last time I checked, that was still free.