The 5 languages of appreciation

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If you were to be a fly on the wall in an organization with a strong culture one day and in an organization with little to no culture for a day, I’m sure you would notice many differences. One apparent difference would be in how employees show appreciation to one another and in how often.

Off the top of your head, how would you rate the appreciation and recognition you receive monthly on a scale of 1-10? Do you truly know and feel how appreciated you are? Or do you feel like you’re working your hardest every day and still never get any appreciation or recognition?

According to SHRM, employee recognition positively impacts the following:

  • 89% on employee experience
  • 87% on employee relationships
  • 86% on organizational culture
  • 84% on employee engagement
  • 82% on employee happiness

Appreciation and recognition are not things that you can check off once a year and think that’s enough to make an impact. To be effective, they must be done frequently, becoming engrained in your workplace culture. Workplace appreciation can be understandably uncomfortable because you’re typically not super close with your colleagues. Even so, there are ways to navigate this and effectively show your appreciation!

You’ve heard of the 5 love languages, right? Well, those languages can be translated into forms of workplace appreciation. Here are the 5 languages for workplace appreciation:

Quality Time: Attention

This one is for people who deeply value opportunities to connect with others, beyond regular meetings and work conversations. Here are some ways you could give a colleague quality time: grabbing lunch together, going out for coffee, bringing them to an event outside of work, taking a walk together.

Words of Affirmation: Verbal Appreciation

Words of affirmation for people who might prefer a simple thank you over other gestures. You can still try to make it feel special by occasionally combining a simple thank you with deeper or more specific recognition. Here are some ways you could give words of affirmation to a colleague: praising publicly and verbally, leaving a note on their desk, sending an instant message, telling them in person.

Presents: Gift-Giving

Gift-giving can be an easy way to make somebody feel appreciated. People like bright and shiny things (or just a tasty coffee). There are endless options for gifts you could give to colleagues or employees but know it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Here are some ideas for you to start with: coffee, gift card, water bottle, desk decoration, book.

Acts of Service: Practical Help

For some, verbal appreciation and gifts won’t do the job. These people might react better to thoughtful acts of service. If you don’t already, you might need to get to know the recipient better so your actions are valuable and purposeful. Here are some ideas for committing acts of service for a colleague: make them a cup of coffee, help them with a project, send referrals their way.

Physical Touch: Connection

You might read the word “physical touch” and cringe a bit, because it’s a delicate topic. This doesn’t mean it’s completely off-limits! A high-five or pat on the back can go a long way with some people. When utilizing this form of appreciation, be mindful of individual preferences and cultural differences, ensuring the interactions are meaningful and well-received.

Nurture and build your culture over time by showing appreciation often. You will be sure to see and feel a difference in the mood and engagement of employees.

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