June 15, 2023
2 min read
Andrew Makhovskyi - CEO at Effy.ai

The 5 Languages Of Appreciation In The Workplace: Actionable Tips

In this article:

A survey conducted by Gallup found that over 70% of employees who feel appreciated at work are more likely to be engaged in the workplace. In today's fast-paced work environment, it's easy to forget how important it is to express appreciation for our co-workers. But it’s paramount to remember that appreciation and recognition are vital components of a thriving work environment. 

However, not everyone feels appreciated in the same way. So how do you show appreciation in a meaningful and effective way? The answer lies in understanding the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace. 

In this blog post, we will explore how to implement the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace environment and provide actionable tips to put them into practice. By understanding and utilizing these, you can express authentic gratitude in a way that truly resonates with each individual and enhances employee engagement.

How to use the 5 languages of appreciation

1. Words of affirmation

One of the most common of the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace is words of affirmation. You can communicate them through:

  • Compliments
  • Thank-you notes
  • Public recognition 

Employees want to know managers and co-workers recognize and value their hard work.

Here are some actionable tips for using more positive feedback and words of affirmation:

  1. Be specific: General compliments may not be as effective as specific ones. Instead of saying "good job", be specific about what the employee did well. 

For example, "I genuinely appreciate how you handled that difficult customer. You showed great patience and professionalism."

  1. Be timely: Don't wait until the annual performance review to provide feedback. Provide positive feedback in real time. Immediate recognition can be more meaningful and impactful. 
  2. Be genuine: Make sure your words are authentic and sincere. Don't use words of affirmation as a manipulative tactic or to sugarcoat negative feedback. Employees can tell when feedback is insincere.

2. Quality time

Quality time means receiving someone's complete and undivided attention, which can include:

  • Listening to their ideas
  • Taking them out for lunch
  • Organizing a team-building activity

Here are 5 ways you can use quality time effectively:

  1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings: Discuss any concerns or issues they may have in a safe and confidential environment.
  2. Make time for social activities: Organize team-building activities or social events that allow employees to spend quality time getting to know each other.
  3. Listen actively: When spending quality time with employees, ensure they have your undivided attention and actively listen to what they have to say.
  4. Be intentional: Plan activities or conversations that are meaningful and enjoyable for the other person.
  5. Be consistent: Make sure to schedule regular quality time with employees to build positive relationships and trust.

51% of employees leaving their jobs say their manager or company could have done something to prevent them from quitting. Imagine a manager with great work relationships who spends quality time with co-workers. They can stop employee turnover by paying attention and expressing genuine appreciation for their efforts in real time.

3. Acts of service

Appreciation In The Workplace Acts of service

Image source: Freepik

Acts of service involve doing something helpful for an employee, which could be as simple as taking over a task they are struggling with or offering to help them with a project. 

Here are some tips for incorporating them:

  1. Be proactive: Look for opportunities to offer assistance without being asked. This shows initiative and a willingness to go above and beyond.
  2. Be specific: Offer to help with particular tasks or projects rather than making a general offer to "help out." This shows you have paid attention to their needs and are willing to provide targeted support.
  3. Be respectful: Employees feel appreciated when you don't overstep boundaries or take over their work without permission.
  4. Don't micromanage: While offering support is essential, it's also necessary to give employees the space to do their job.

4. Tangible gifts

Tangible gifts are concrete, physical gifts given to employees to express appreciation in the workplace. These gifts can range from small tokens of appreciation to more significant rewards, such as a gift card or a company-sponsored trip.

One of the most significant benefits of this appreciation language is that you can customize it to fit individual interests or preferences. This level of thoughtfulness can go a long way in fostering employee engagement and loyalty.

Research from O.C. Turner states that employees are three times more likely to remember a recognition experience when coupled with a symbolic award. 

Here are some tips for employee appreciation:

  1. Personalize the gift: Put extra effort into learning about your employees' interests and preferences, and tailor the gift accordingly. This makes them feel appreciated for their individuality.
  2. Be timely: Give the gift right after the appreciating action. This ensures the employees feel appreciated and noticed.
  3. Be consistent: Don't play favorites by giving gifts to only certain employees; give gifts fairly and consistently. This will reinforce the importance of recognition in your workplace culture and encourage co-workers to follow suit.
  4. Consider the cost: While showing appreciation is essential, don't create an unsustainable expectation of lavish gifts on a tight budget.
  5. Be mindful of company policy: Make sure your gift is appropriate and within company policy.

5. Physical touch

Physical touch is the last of the 5 languages of appreciation and can take the form of:

  • Pat on the back
  • Handshake
  • Fist bump
  • Hug
  • High-five

However, it's important to note that physical touch can be a sensitive issue for some individuals. So, it's crucial to have appropriate ways to encourage people to respect boundaries and cultural differences with appropriate physical touch.

Research has shown how appropriate physical touch can positively impact people's mental and physical health. A brief hug or affectionate touch can reduce stress levels and increase feelings of social support.

Here are some actionable tips for incorporating physical touch as one of the 5 languages of appreciation for a more positive workplace culture:

  1. Respect boundaries: It's essential to respect personal boundaries and cultural differences. Not everyone feels comfortable with physical touch, so asking for consent before initiating any contact is crucial.
  2. Be mindful of the context: It should fit the context. For example, a pat on the back may be appropriate after a job well done, but a hug may be more appropriate after a challenging personal experience.

Appreciation In The Workplace Physical touch

Image source: Freepik.com

  1. Use touch to complement other languages of appreciation: Appropriate physical touch can be a powerful complement to other languages of appreciation, such as words of affirmation or acts of service. 
  2. Train employees on appropriate touch: To ensure proper and respectful use, train employees on physical contact in the workplace. This can include: 
  • Setting clear boundaries
  • Explaining the importance of consent
  • Providing examples of appropriate touch in different contexts

The 5 languages of appreciation: Best practices

Incorporating the 5 languages of appreciation into your workplace culture can elevate your team's morale and productivity. But it’s not enough to understand these languages; you must know how to use them effectively. 

Mentioned below are some best practices of the 5 languages of appreciation for your workplace:

1. Identify your employees' language of appreciation

Like everyone has their unique personality and communication style, they also have a distinctive way of feeling appreciated. Some employees prefer words of affirmation from their boss, while others appreciate gifts and public praise. As a manager or leader, it's your job to identify each employee's primary language of appreciation and incorporate it into your interactions. 

There are several ways to identify each employee's different languages:

  1. Ask them directly 
  1. Observe their behavior and communication style
  1. Use surveys to gain insight into your employees' preferences

2. Use appreciation languages regularly and genuinely

Knowing your employees' love languages is only half the battle. The next step is to make them a habit and use them regularly; otherwise, your efforts will come across as inauthentic or manipulative.

You can ensure regular appreciation by incorporating it into your daily routine. For example, you can:

  • Start your team meetings by sharing what the employees are doing well 
  • Set reminders on your calendar to regularly send out personalized messages of employee appreciation

It is also essential to express genuine appreciation and not overdo it. Otherwise, it can cause trust issues and loss of credibility.

3. Create a culture of appreciation

Finally, to fully realize the benefits of the 5 languages of appreciation, create a workplace culture that ensures employees feel appreciated and boosts staff morale.

One way to do this is to lead by example. As a leader, you can: 

  1. Set the tone for the entire organization by:
  • Expressing authentic appreciation regularly
  • Recognizing the contributions of others
  1. Encourage others to do the same by:
  • Providing training or resources on the topic
  • Creating opportunities for peer-to-peer appreciation

Another way to create a positive workplace culture is to make it a part of your company's core values and mission. Doing so sends a clear message to everyone that it is an integral part of company culture. You can reinforce this message by recognizing and rewarding those who embody this value in their work.

Ultimately, it is important to celebrate successes and milestones along the way and make sure everyone understands how they contribute to organizational success. 


Remember, appreciation and employee recognition are not just nice-to-haves in the workplace – they are crucial for job satisfaction and creating a more positive work environment. Incorporating the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace helps increase loyalty and creates empowering organizations.

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