You don’t have to have on-site day care and a fitness center to be considered a great company to work for. Let’s face it—small businesses can’t compete with many of the megacorp perks and pluses.

But that doesn’t mean your small business can’t be the employer of choice in your city for your industry.

Indeed, a little appreciation goes a long way. That’s the point of an “Ask the Expert” column from USA Today’s Steve Strauss. He outlined four ways to become a great employer. In a nutshell, those are:

  1. Feed the whole person

  2. Give away unexpected freebies

  3. Create a creative, fun culture

  4. Don’t pigeonhole people

I won’t steal Strauss’ thunder. You can read his whole article for a deeper explanation and even examples of companies doing what he’s espousing.

The essence of being a great employer is about more than money. People want to be recognized and appreciated for a job well done. People want to feel that they are a part of the company’s success, that they are in on the decisions, and that bosses and coworkers care when they are going through the storms of life.

Yes, a healthy wage and job security are important. But some small business owners may mistakenly believe that money, job security, promotions and exciting work are more important than consistently treating the person like a valued member of the team.

If you aren’t good at dishing out praise to your employees, check out this Fox News report on the “carrot principle”: