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The Best Things at Work Are Free (or at Least Don't Have to Break the Bank)

You don't have to offer fancy perks to have engaged employees.
The Best Things at Work Are Free (or at Least Don't Have to Break the Bank)
Image credit: mediaphotos | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Founder of The Spaghetti Project
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every day I talk to people who tell me they can't afford to make their workplace cool enough to attract top talent. They think they don't have what it takes to build the kind of workplace culture of companies like Google or Facebook or Warby Parker. They believe that making work a place your employees want to be costs money, and lots of it.

Related: 10 Examples of Companies With Fantastic Cultures

Here's the good news. As Google leadership development advisor Fred Kofman and author of The Meaning Revolution says, the one thing companies must offer doesn't cost a dime. "Any company that can provide a sense of meaning, purpose and happiness will be able to attract great talent," Kofman told CNBC Make It.

My research with companies and employees over the past decade has convinced me that by just changing our mindset to one of honoring relationships in everything we do, we can transform our workplace into one where people are psyched to come to work. And it doesn't have to cost a penny.

After all, what makes people happier than great relationships?

Indagare says "thank you" every day at 9 a.m.

Indagare is a boutique, membership-based travel community. In order to honor relationships, it holds regular, as in daily, gratitude sessions.

Yup. They start every workday by saying thanks!

At 9 a.m., Indagare's COO Eliza Harris and Shoshana Balistierri, director of people and culture, grab whomever is around for a morning gratitude practice. They take turns going around the room, and each person is invited to offer one thing for which they are grateful and one wish of happiness to another person.

As Harris shared with me,"What we've discovered is it's the most delightful way to start the day ... when you see how people's faces light up when they're saying what they're grateful for."

Another great -- though unexpected -- benefit of the daily gratitude circle is that Harris and her employees have also found that this regular coming-together has become a wonderful way to get to know each other.

"When you hear the specifics of what people in our office are grateful for, you really start to get to know your colleagues and what's going on in their lives in an authentic, non-intrusive way." What better way to honor relationships than to actually listen in on what's happening in people's lives and to reciprocate?

And the cost? Absolutely free.

Impact? Priceless.

Related: This Entrepreneur Shares the One Word You Need to Build a Culture That Lasts

DoSomething employees are "gong" with the wind.

It's Friday at 3 p.m., and everyone at DoSomething, a company that connects millennials with volunteer opportunities, is finishing up their work for the weekend, when they hear a familiar sound ...

Gong!

Immediately, everyone gets up and walks over to the center of the DoSomething office and meets in "the pit." And, no it's not a fire drill.

Perhaps a new hire will get introduced, or the gang will celebrate an employee's five-year anniversary with the company, or maybe they will come together to toast a recent company-wide win. Whatever it is, everyone stops what they are doing and connects.

How much does it cost to bang and gather up around a gong? Absolutely nothing. And if you don't have a gong, just play your favorite song on your phone. Whatever it takes to get people away from their desks and gathered together.

Related: From Free Genetic Screening to a Maternity Concierge Program, These 10 Companies Go Above and Beyond for Their Employees

For some humans, it takes cookies

On a recent visit to Chanel, haute couture central, my host gave me a heads up that in a few minutes there would be a flurry of activity. I expected a cat walk or some crazy-sophisticated style hack that would be lost on me.

Not even close.

At 2 p.m. every Friday Chanel puts out ... cookies. Cookies!

And what's even sweeter than cookies is watching Chanel employees stroll out of their offices, smartly dressed, so effortlessly chic, ready to chow those cookies down!

You can dress us up, but at the end of the day -- or maybe in the middle of the day? -- we all just crave a little sugar and sweet connection.

So, if you're looking for an update or refresh on your workplace culture, you don't have to look too far or think too deep, or spend much -- or any -- money. Creating great culture doesn't have to cost a dime. Because good things happen when people connect.

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