Shopping cart close

5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – Workshop

On Wednesday the 25th of May, we held our first Brunch N Learn session of 2022 where Ros Cardinal virtually presented the 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work.

Ros is Shaping Change’s founder and managing director, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.

Ros is an outstanding facilitator with a career in human resources and organisational development spanning over 30 years, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her results and solutions orientated sessions while providing challenging insight that encourages people to think outside the box.

Most people have read or heard of the best selling book ‘The 5 Love Languages’, but have you ever thought about how they translate to other relationships in your life?

There are considered to be 5 categories:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Tangible Gifts
  5. Physical Touch

Now, how do these fit into the workplace?

This research has been updated and applied to business as the “5 languages of appreciation in the workplace”.

We all like to receive appreciation in different ways – recognition at work is no different. This workshop is taking this concept and applying it to how your team and colleagues like to be recognised. To give you valuable insights into how to recognise and appreciate your team in a way that feels meaningful to them.

Ros kicked off this workshop by asking a simple question; Why is feeling appreciated at work so important?

She then shared a quote with us by Stephen Covey – “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is the psychological survival, to be validated, to be appreciated”

Ros continued by asking, what jobs have you felt appreciated in and what jobs have you not?

We broke out into focus groups to discuss this and answer a series of questions.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how appreciated do you feel by your immediate manager?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how appreciated do you feel by your co-workers?
  • When you feel discouraged at work, what actions by others encourage you?
  • When you want to communicate appreciation for colleagues and your team, how do you do so?

She then had us come together and give a few examples of answers to each question. Answers like offers of assistance or words of support or encouragement were common for what actions encourage people and answers like taking their teams or co-workers out to lunch or dinner or possibly a gift was given when asked how do you communicate appreciation?

We then discussed what it is like when you do not feel appreciated versus when you do.

When employees do not feel appreciated, there is a lack of motivation or pride taken in their work and a disconnect within a business.

When appreciation is shown, employees are willing to stay a little longer and go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

When employees feel appreciated it can also lead to a reduction in turnover, lower unscheduled absences, increased productivity, and improved culture and climate, which can all lead to better customer outcomes.

It seems everyone knows that it is important to feel appreciated in a workplace, but research shows that organisations are still missing the mark when it comes to showing appreciation for employees.

A study found that 51% of managers believe they do a good job of recognising their employees, but only 17% of their direct reports believe that the manager recognises them for doing a good job.

So how can you show appreciation to your employees or co-workers?

This is where Ros broke down the 5 languages and how they can be used in the workplace but also when or where you should be cautious, or they shouldn’t be used at all and had us discuss each with a series of questions.

  1. Words of affirmation

Words of affirmation are words that directly communicate your appreciation, words of encouragement or recognition of something the person has done well.

Verbal affirming is the most commonly used language of appreciation in workplaces.

Commonly used at annual performance reviews where a list of achievements or things that your managers think you did well, but Ros pointed out that generally, this is not the most effective way of communicating your appreciation and can often feel impersonal to the person receiving this feedback.

She suggests that it is most meaningful when it is linked to a specific accomplishment or achievement and given as soon as possible instead of waiting for a performance review. Words of affirmation are also incredibly meaningful when used in a way that encourages the person’s character or values, this leads to building a deeper relationship as these traits are not as easy to observe as accomplishments.

Though there is a caution to be taken with how and where these affirmations take place. Keeping it personal and one on one is a good place to start when still getting to know the person. Some people become uncomfortable when it is given in a public setting, such as in front of others or at an event. Another great suggestion Ros had was to give something handwritten like a note or card, as a lot of people will tend to hold onto these as motivators and ongoing encouragements.

Again, we broke out into focus groups to discuss how we have used or received words of affirmation in our workplaces, and how important it is to us to give and receive this kind of appreciation. We ended this discussion with a challenge to pick someone in our team and affirm them within the next couple of days.

  1. Quality Time

Quality time is time spent giving someone your full attention, and proactively interacting with a person.

Although quality time in a work environment is not all about being friends outside the workplace an example could be by spending time showing interest in the individual not only their work. Another great way is putting aside time in your schedule to have a one on one meeting or conversation and giving them your focused attention, particularly if you have a very busy schedule.

For a lot of people, most conversations can feel quite shallow and not hold a lot of depth. A few ways to show that you are actively listening to the person are to get rid of any distractions, put your phone away or shut your laptop while you are speaking with them. Maintain eye contact and observe body language while listening out for feelings not just thoughts and if you notice them, you can affirm how they are feeling even if you do not necessarily agree with their conclusions.

Quality time is also a great way to create a positive culture and climate amongst co-workers, some people respond better to group discussions, team building exercises or going out for a meal or coffee than one on one. Quality time within your team encourages them to get to know one another can then lead to more effective group projects and problem-solving discussions.

We then broke out into our discussion groups again and focused on how important it was to us having quality time with our managers and peers, do we discuss our personal interests with our co-workers and do we prefer one on one or group dialogues.

An interesting thing that came up during these discussions is that a study has found that video calls or conferencing have shown to be far more draining on people than a typical conversation as we are used to considering someone’s body language when talking and this cannot be done through a screen, therefore, we spend so much of our energy trying to figure out what they are feeling.

  1. Acts of Service

Acts of Service are a physical way of showing your appreciation, lending a hand when you can see someone has a lot to do.

Acts of service can be a really powerful way of showing appreciation but as Ros pointed out people that show appreciation in this way need to be careful as often they compromise their own responsibilities to help another. When offering assistance to someone be sure to ask beforehand as some people can take it the wrong way if you jump in and start doing their job for them. Make sure your attitude is positive and does not come across in a way that makes the receiver feel like you are only doing it because you feel like you have to, be sure to make them feel it is voluntary. The most important this with acts of service is to be sure that you are clear about your limitations (how long or how many you can help with) to not leave them feeling you have left halfway through and be sure to do it their way to avoid them feeling as if you are taking over.

Again, we broke out into discussion groups and addressed how important acts of service are to us as individuals, what are some acts of service that someone has done for us and what is something we have done for someone else, what was the response from ourselves and others? Again, we were challenged to consider asking someone from our team if there is something that we can do to make their work easier?

  1. Tangible Gifts

Tangible gifts are another physical way of showing your appreciation but rather than helping with a task it is something that you gift to someone.

Gift giving is a challenging way to show appreciation as it can be a powerful message to a person who accepts it well but to a person who does not receive them well, it does not have the same impact.

When gifting someone to show appreciation it is important to consider what the person would consider a gift and select the right thing as giving the wrong gift to someone can be quite offensive and make them feel as if you do not know them or do not care enough to select the right thing but the right gift can be the perfect way to show your appreciation to the right person.

When the gift is presented is also important, some people love to be given them in front of a group, but some would prefer to be taken aside and be given it one on one.

Discussion groups again focused on how important it is to us as individuals to receive gifts, how we have received gifts from co-workers or managers in the past and when we have given gifts how did the recipient respond.

  1. Physical touch

Physical touch is quite an unconscious way that we show appreciation, a hug or pat on the back.

Research shows that although physical touch is common in our lives, not one person has physical touch as their primary language of appreciation in a workplace.

Most of the time physical contact is considered inappropriate in the workplace. Do you think there is a place for appropriate touch as a sign of appreciation? Consider things like a handshake, High fives or a fist bump.

Our groups discussed what types of physical touch in the workplace we find affirming if any. Do we have co-workers who are the “Touchy-feely types” and if touching comes easily to us, have we noticed others that drawback from us when it is offered?

Ros concluded the workshop with a theory that the real question is not “do you appreciate your team?” it is “do your people know you appreciate them? And Do they feel appreciated?”

Have you been showing your appreciation in the right way for your team?

Successful managers are the ones that seek to understand what others want and need and plan to show their appreciation in the language that speaks to the individual.

What are you doing to action with your team?

What is your number one priority?

What support do you need?

If you are interested in finding out what language of appreciation your staff member or team responds to best, you can purchase the Motivating by Appreciation Inventory via Shaping Change for $30 per person + gst or you can purchase the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace Book, which includes a link to the assessment (single use).

Don’t miss our next Brunch and Learn workshop, Human Instincts in the Workplace, click here to learn more!

Book Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *