It's happened to many of us. A co-worker stops by your desk to thank you for a job well done while your boss sits in her office, completely out of earshot. Or the kudos is sent by e-mail, and your happiness fades as you realize your boss isn't on the recipient list.

It's happened to many of us. A co-worker stops by your desk to thank you for a job well done while your boss sits in her office, completely out of earshot. Or the kudos is sent by e-mail, and your happiness fades as you realize your boss isn't on the recipient list.

It makes you want to shout: "Thanks, but tell the person who can give me a raise!"

More than one third of professionals say businesses are ineffective at rewarding their employees strong performance, according to a new poll.

"Managers at times may overcomplicate what it takes to provide good recognition," said Diane Domeyer of OfficeTeam, an online job search service that conducted the nonscientific poll.

Saying thanks doesn't have to involve an expensive, formal event, she said.

Even a handwritten note or movie tickets can work, she said. Other creative approaches include allowing extra days off or extended lunch breaks.

Sales has long been an industry in which tangible, trackable progress has led to more frequent recognition, but many companies are expanding their criteria to subjective areas like exemplary customer service, Domeyer said.

Thanking workers for a job well done improves employee retention and productivity, she said. "It will pay bottom-line dividends," she said.