Imagine that a friend asked for your advice about how to repair his troubled marriage. He shares his strategy for saving his marriage. “I thought I’d take her on a cruise or send her to a spa. Or maybe buy her that bracelet she has her eye on.”

You can’t believe your ears. It’s absurd to think that bribing his wife to stay with him would actually work. You want him to understand that what she really needs is his time and his attention. He needs to let her know by his actions that he values her.

Now think about what you do to reward and recognize your employees. If the way you typically show your appreciation is to give them goodies, you may want to think again. While there is nothing wrong with giving out gift cards or having a celebration during Customer Service Week, what really matters to frontline employees is genuine, on the spot recognition from their supervisor.

Ascent’s 2009 Reward & Recognition Best Practices study bears this out. Frontline reps ranked “praise” as most important. Tangible gifts came in fourth. The study also found that praise is best delivered on the spot. “Recognition and rewards can be formal or informal recognition, meaning, spontaneous or immediate--simple thank yous or expressions for a job well done.

In fact, most of a company’s recognition activity should be informal. Informal recognition is a critical component in human nature and the social structure — it’s a major motivator and results in people feeling good about themselves and their achievements.”

The report pointed out that while some supervisors are naturals, most don’t know how to reward and recognize their individual employees. “Managers and supervisors should receive the proper training that will develop the skills needed to praise and reward desired behavior and performance.”

This week stop by and give your employees and coworkers a compliment for a job well done. It will do you good.

Barbara Burke is an internationally known consultant, speaker, and author specializing in the “people side” of customer service management.