Utilizing Love Languages for Workplace Appreciation

February 14, 2024 by Verified First

Utilizing Love Languages for Workplace Appreciation

Happy February! Sometimes, it seems like Valentine’s Day often focuses on romance and forgets to leave room to celebrate different types of love. From friendships to pets, to coworkers, and more February can be about more than just romantic endeavors. But you can’t talk about love these days without talking about love languages. And did you know that love languages can also apply to workplace appreciation? 

That’s right, there are love languages of business and office relationships. And utilizing them efficiently can help you significantly improve your workplace culture. This article explores the five love languages of business and workplace appreciation and how to effectively utilize love languages to improve productivity, motivation, and culture. 

What Are Workplace Love Languages? 

The 5 Love Languages is a concept first introduced in 1992 by Dr. Gary Chapman. His idea shared that there are five different “languages” that people use to express and experience love. Dr. Chapman’s theory suggests that identifying these specific communication preferences can improve connections and relationships between partners. The five love languages Dr. Chapman identified are: 

  • Quality time
  • Physical touch
  • Words of affirmation 
  • Acts of service 
  • Gift giving/receiving 

Just like identifying love languages in a romantic partner can strengthen the bond and improve the relationship, understanding professional love languages can create a more productive and positive office environment. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach to showing care and appreciation to others. Dr. Chapman argued that some people may have one dominant love language, but it is more common to have multiple ways of expressing and receiving love. 

So, what are the five love languages of business? They include: 

  • Dedicated 1:1 meetings as quality time
  • Encouragement (with respect to boundaries) as physical touch
  • Feedback as words of affirmation
  • Support as acts of service
  • Rewards and incentives as gift receiving/giving 

Identifying Languages of Appreciation in the Office

Each person in your organization has unique motivations fueled by their beliefs and preferences. Some people may enjoy a high-five while others might prefer a monetary reward or public recognition. No matter what it is, we all have distinct opinions on what makes us feel most valued. Determining what makes each of your employees feel valued can improve office dynamics, productivity, and culture. 

It is critical to be aware that not all forms of appreciation are accepted by different people. It is important to understand boundaries, ask for explicit consent, and use common knowledge when showing workplace appreciation. 

To identify your coworkers' love languages for office appreciation, you must recognize each person’s individual efforts, personal motivations, and characteristics. Here are two simple ways to start understanding your employees' love languages: 

  • Observe. Watch for how your coworkers show appreciation to others. Oftentimes, how a person treats other people is how they’d like to be shown appreciation in return. For example, if someone is constantly shouting out their coworkers for jobs well done, they likely seek words of affirmation, too. 
  • Listen. Take notice of what people don’t like and complain about. This can help you work backward to determine what they need. For example, if someone complains that they don’t get enough 1:1 time with a superior, one of their love languages is likely quality time. 

You can also learn more about your teammates, and yourself, through a free love languages quiz developed by Dr. Chapman. It is important to understand that people can also seek different appreciation for different relationships. Something that you give and want from a romantic partner can be different from a colleague or leader. When trying to identify office love languages, consider these questions: 

  1. How do I show appreciation to my coworkers and teammates? 
  2. What gestures from colleagues mean the most to me? 
  3. When do I feel the least valued in the workplace? 
  4. What makes me most appreciated at work? 

How To Use Love Languages In The Workplace

Everyone deserves to feel valued and appreciated. Using someone’s preferred styles of communication and appreciation lets you elevate small gestures into meaningful, relationship-building acts. It can also motivate employees, increase productivity, and create a more positive workplace environment. Let’s explore how you can effectively use the five love languages of business. 

Quality Time

Some people thrive on interaction and shared social experiences. That's why the idea of quality time can be just as crucial to professional relationships as it is to personal ones. In the office, quality time means giving a colleague or teammate your undivided attention. This entails actively listening to the person and allowing them to express their ideas. 

You can give your time in many ways, including: 

  • Getting coffee or lunch
  • Dedicated 1:1 working sessions
  • Taking walking breaks together
  • Non-mandatory team-building activities
  • Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries
  • Hosting small groups for employees to share concerns 

Words of Affirmation

In the office, words of affirmation can include both verbal and written recognition. Providing positive feedback and recognizing jobs well done can make employees feel appreciated and valued. With words of affirmation, it is important to be as specific as possible, because a generic “good job” will not suffice. Show employees that you are paying attention to what matters. 

Take the time to compliment a certain skill set, action, or accomplishment. Be sure to provide positive, constructive feedback when applicable. Before giving words of affirmation, it’s important to understand your audience: 

  • Verbal affirmations can take place in individual meetings or in front of the whole company, depending on the person’s preferences. Some people enjoy public recognition, while others prefer quick and low-key mentions. Make sure to take note of the individual’s preferences before offering words of affirmation. 
  • Written affirmations can also be a preferred and effective method of appreciation. With written affirmations, you should still consider how you share the message and whether that person prefers public or private recognition. Also, a handwritten note can be a lot more personal and effective than an email!

Physical Touch

One of the most well-understood love languages in romantic relationships is physical touch, however, in workplace situations, it can be the most difficult to navigate. Appropriate physical touch in the office is dependent on personal boundaries and consent. Ultimately, do not touch anyone who does not want to be touched – no exceptions. 

For employees that do feel valued through physical touch, consider handshakes, fist bumps, and high-fives. Physical touch should not be your primary way to show workplace appreciation, but it does not have to be completely ignored. 

Acts of Service

Actions speak louder than words, and for people who value acts of service, actions can go very far. Some employees may feel more valued and appreciated when another person offers a helping hand. When you can tell someone is overloaded, consider pitching in or alleviating a task completely. This can show that you not only recognize the amount of work they are doing but truly value their efforts. 

Gift Giving

Giving tangible gifts does not have to be about the cost of the item, but rather that you thought about the person. People with gift-giving and receiving as a love language value a personalized gift that shows you took the time to get to know them and think about something they would like. These gifts do not have to be lavish, just tailored. Consider these scenarios: 

  • If you know that an employee likes coffee from local shops, make an effort to get a gift card from there instead of Starbucks. 
  • If you know that someone enjoys hiking and camping, find a book or guide about outdoor activities in their state. 
  • If you know that an employee is struggling to balance work and family duties, for example, they’ve commented about how difficult cooking dinner has been lately, you could gift a month-long meal kit subscription to help them find the balance. 

Final Tips for Showing Workplace Appreciation 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to using love languages for workplace appreciation. Everyone’s preferences, comfort levels, and relationship to you can help determine what the best way to show your appreciation is. Let’s recap a few suggestions to help you effectively integrate love languages in the office: 

    1. Be aware of people's boundaries. You must always respect an individual’s boundaries and comfort zones. Not everyone will be comfortable with certain gestures and actions at work, no matter what their love language is. Always ask people for consent, and if you do cross the line, know how to apologize. 
    2. Remember that like any relationship, workplace appreciation is give and take. People will be more likely to reciprocate kind gestures and services when you do so for them. And sometimes, certain people will need more support than others (and yourself). Try not to go overboard and make people feel like they “owe” you something in return. 
    3. Give without conditions. You should not expect anything in return when you show workplace appreciation (besides improved efficiency, productivity, and culture). For appreciation to be meaningful, it should come with conditions or expectations. 

How Verified First Supports Your HR Initiatives

It can be extremely challenging to manage fruitful, engaging HR projects when you are bogged down by manual day-to-day tasks. Verified First can help you streamline your hiring process from start to finish, giving you more time and money to spend on employee and culture-centric initiatives. Our patented extension lets you manage background screening, drug testing, and more all in one platform. Plus, we integrate with over 100+ HR and talent acquisition platforms so you never have to leave your chosen technology. 

See how we can help your business.

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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