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February 14, 2023

By Jennifer Carmichael

3 minutes read



Today is Valentine’s Day, making it a good time to consider how you show appreciation to your colleagues and team members. If you typically send out quick thank-you emails, keep in mind that many other options are available to show your gratitude. Plus, not everyone feels appreciation in the same way. Some people might like to be commended publicly, while others may find a thoughtful note more meaningful. Maybe a one-on-one lunch or personalized gift is a better choice for some staffers.

If you want to show some gratitude to those you work with every day, try putting the five languages of employee appreciation into practice at work. Below, we share some insight from Dr. Paul White, an author, speaker and psychologist, on how you can apply these languages in the workplace.

Words of affirmation. According to Dr. White, nearly half of the workforce prefers this form of appreciation. To get it right, he recommends getting specific with your gratitude and making sure your words are as timely as possible. You should also consider asking your team members what channel they prefer, from email or Slack to team meetings or social media.

Quality time. About one in four employees enjoy this form of appreciation. In the workplace, quality time means giving someone your complete and focused attention. Dr. White says this could mean mentoring employees, scheduling regular one-on-ones or expanding team meetings beyond just status updates.

Acts of service. This form of appreciation is about performing small acts that can free up someone’s time, provide needed support or simply bring a smile to their day. For example, you could get a coffee for a co-worker you know is stretched thin or bring in dinner if your team is working late. Dr. White says that when someone is underwater and you can possibly take something off their plate, do it. This can create a culture of service.

Tangible gifts. Dr. White recommends getting personal with gifts by understanding your team members’ wants and needs. Find out how they like to spend their time and what kind of treats they like. This can help you choose a meaningful gift, he says.

Some examples are:

Clever Candy Smash Chocolate Heart with Triple Layer Hearts     

1. Clever Candy Smash Chocolate Heart with Triple Layer Hearts  2. Little Spa Treat Gift Set  3. Modern Sprout® Encouragement Seed Bomb  4. W&P Porter Sustainable Lunch Bundle  5. Cable Knit Chenille Sherpa Throw  6. ACE Artifact Stoneware Mug

Work-appropriate physical touch. The least applicable to the workforce, with only 1% preferring a physical touch. Dr. White cautions that everyone’s comfort level differs with physical touch; while some may appreciate a heartfelt hug, others may only tolerate a high five or fist bump. Either way, always ask before initiating any physical touch.

When leaders learn how to effectively show appreciation, they end up building more engaged and productive teams. If you lead a team, think about how you can apply the five love languages to show appreciation.

Source: Dr. Paul White is an author, speaker and psychologist. He co-wrote with Dr. Gary Chapman The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, which has sold over 500,000 copies.

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