What’s your language of appreciation?

What’s your language of appreciation?

In Recognition and Engagement by Kristen O'Mara

Take the quiz!

How you recognize and how you want to be recognized says a lot about you, according to Dr. Chapman, New York Times bestselling author. Understanding your employees’ language of appreciation is an important factor in providing performance enhancing intrinsic motivation.

It sounds easy to do but there’s a serious disconnect in the workplace. The Society for Human Resource Management found that while managers say they are communicating appreciation regularly, employees don’t feel it. 69% of employees say they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. This lack of everyday recognition impacts your organization’s productivity, retention and morale.

While Recognition is the most affordable tool to motivate, it is highly under-used in the workplace. Managers who take the time to ask their people how they like to be recognized and act accordingly, have higher performing teams. One size doesn’t fit all. Organizational studies of generational differences in recognition are good to know (i.e. Baby Boomers appreciate moments that honor their experience so symbolic items resonate, whereas Generation Z values immediate recognition and experiences more) but managers need to go a little deeper to understand their peoples’ preferences.

Dr. Chapman’s Languages of Appreciation for the workforce is a great guide. Take the quiz to learn your language of appreciation. Have your team take the quiz too so you can apply the actions below in your workplace.

Words of thanks1. Words of Affirmation: “This language uses words to affirm other people.”

According to Chapman, words of affirmation are the and probably the most widely utilized in the workplace. This can be expressed both verbally or through writing but for it to be effective, it is important to know the difference between recognition and praise. Recognition involves specific feedback that promotes the positive behaviours you want practiced in your workplace, whereas praise strokes the ego, which is always nice, but ends up more generic and less actionable.

Check out our FREE recognition ideas, thank you cards, certificates and posters, just like the one to the left! 

2. Quality Time: “This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.”

When it comes to quality time, these individuals appreciate others’ company. This means they value team outings, spending time with colleagues during lunch, one-on-one meetings and check-ins.

3. Receiving Gifts: “For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.”

When it comes to recognition, these individuals feel most appreciated when receiving a gift. This does not mean the person is materialistic but that they care about the thought behind it. Examples of gift giving in the workplace can be recognition awards, whether it is an initialized journal for a new hire, a fun personalized sticker or a service anniversary package; this is how to speak their language.

4. Acts of Service: “For these people, actions speak louder than words.”

Individuals whose primary language of appreciation is Acts of Service appreciate the small gestures that are unexpected and helpful from co-workers. Some examples are picking up coffee for a colleague, assisting with technological issues, helping with a difficult project or merely allowing someone to borrow a pen.

5. Physical Touch: “To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.”

Lastly, there are individuals who value physical touch most when it comes to employee recognition. These people value a handshake, a high-five or a pat on the back when being acknowledged for their work.

Overall, it’s important to note that the primary way a person likes to be recognized at work is not exclusive. Focus on their dominant language and incorporate the other gestures occasionally too!

If you liked this article, you might also appreciate “How recognition can make you look smarter”.

Author: Kristen O’Mara

Kristen O'MaraKristen is a third year Marketing Management Co-Op student completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Guelph. Her creativity and innovative ideas are a culmination of her academic experience and entrepreneurial ventures. She is currently working as a Marketing Coordinator for CSI STARS and is reaching for the stars!