5 Languages of Appreciation

A few years ago, I read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and shared it with everyone that would listen to me. It was a terrific book about communication in relationships. So, I was thrilled when Gary Chapman and Paul White came out with their book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”. It’s a book focused on work-based relationships. You don’t have to be a manager or leader to benefit from reading this book, every employee can benefit from understanding other people’s appreciation languages.

Why should we focus on motivating others by appreciation?

According to the research Chapman and White gathered to write this book:

  • “In a Glassdoor survey: 4 out of 5 employees (81%) say they are “motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work”
  • “In Gallup research conducted: engaged employees average 27% fewer days missed, business units with more disengaged employees have 51% higher turnover than engaged business units, companies in the top 25% of employee engagement averaged 18% higher productivity than companies in the bottom 25% and employers with the most engaged employees were 22% more profitable than those with the least engaged employees”
  • “In research compiled by a leading third-party exit interviewing firm in the USA found: only 12% of employees reported leaving for more money, while 88% left for reasons other than money. And reasons most often cited included not feeling trusted or valued.”

There’s a strong case for employee engagement. And while everyone expects to get paid in the workplace and make more money, according to Chapman and White, “the number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay we receive but whether or not we feel appreciated and valued for the work we do”. And the good news is that its not solely a manager’s responsibility. We can all play our part in appreciating others in the workplace, once we recognize others’ appreciation languages.

Here is a brief description of the 5 languages of appreciation:

  1. Words of Affirmation – People who best respond to words of affirmation appreciate verbal praise with specific feedback for their accomplishments. They may also value being affirmed for their character or personality traits. This can be one on one, or in front of others, in written format or in a public setting, with one on one often being the most valued. An example: “I really appreciate you staying after work to get that client report completed in advance of our meeting. Thanks for being so diligent and staying on top of this.” According to Chapman and White, “words of affirmation is the most frequently chosen language of appreciation – approximately 45% of employees.”
  2. Quality Time – People who have this appreciation language, appreciate time with those they value and enjoy focused attention and quality conversation. They may even enjoy shared experiences and/or team work. They don’t necessarily need one on one time with their boss. They may also value time with their colleagues. When you spend time with someone who has a “quality time” language of appreciation remember to maintain eye contact, listen intently, observe their body language and affirm their feelings.
  3. Acts of Service – People who have this appreciation language as their primary language enjoy being helped out or asked to be helped/supported. They like it when others come and pitch in and help them out. A few things to keep in mind with these individuals: make sure you ask them before you help them, don’t assume you know what help they want or need, do it their way and complete what you started.
  4. Tangible Gifts – While “only 6% of employees choose tangible gifts as their primary language, 68% report its their least valued appreciation language.”  For those that do value tangible gifts, its important to provide a gift they will actually value. One suggestion is to gift “time off” especially with younger employees. “Time” seems to be a valued resource regardless of age, so gifting time off has become highly desirable.
  5. Physical Touch – While physical touch can be contentious. Some acceptable examples include a firm handshake for a job well done, a high five or a fist pump.

If you are curious about your own language of appreciation, the authors developed an MBA Inventory which you can complete to receive an individualized report. Just go to: www.mbainventory.com

For more information on The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, check out the book:

Note: all quotes, data and general information above are from the book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation inthe Workplace © 2011, 2012, 2019 by Gary D. Chapman and Paul E. White, Northfield Publishing, Chicago, IL

Interested in ways you and your teams can increase appreciation in the workplace, and how to navigate your personal and professional development, I’m here to help.  Contact me at linda@lindacattelan.com or call me at 416-617-0734.

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