TRENDS Give 'Em What They Want: Recognition A pair of recent studies has shown that while money is rarely the last thing on people's minds when it comes to motivation, it is almost never the first. Appreciation and recognition are consistently seen by researchers as the way to most workers' hearts.

According to a study by commissioned by Challenger, Gray, Christmas, an international outplacement firm based in Chicago, money ranks as the fourth best employee motivator, behind appreciation (one), independence (two), and a chance to contribute (three). Making workers feel appreciated is a particularly important task in the current tight job market, notes Challenger Vice President Rick Cobb, since good but dissatisfied employees won't have much difficulty finding a position more to their liking.

"Recognition events are a relatively simple way to show appreciation for a job well-done," says Cobb.

"If you can make the acknowledgement more personal, that's even better," he adds. "If you know someone collects golf clubs or is into gardening, then give him or her a gift geared to that."

Job satisfaction was also the subject of a study published by the New Yorkbased Families and Work Institute. The institute's National Study of the Changing Workforce found workplace support and job quality have a much greater role in creating job satisfaction than earnings and benefits.

Don Grimme, president of GHR Training Solutions, a Fort Lauderdalebased training consultancy, says that many workers also see training meetings, particularly when they involve off-site travel, as valuable rewards.

Special events and corporate celebrations are yet another opportunity to provide employees with much-desired praise. Says Grimme: "You want to use every chance you can get to create an organizational culture that is open, trusting, and fun."