Whether you want to recognize your staff for years of service, meeting a sales quota, finishing a project, or going above and beyond in some other way, knowing HOW to show your appreciation is just as important as recognizing them in the first place.
Each human is unique, so it should come as no surprise that each person has a way in which they like to be appreciated. A current bestseller looking at how we communicate is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book explains the five ways of communicating how we give and receive love in a way that is most relevant to the other person’s needs. However, all types of communication – including communicating appreciation – can be differentiated in this way. So Gray Chapman wrote another book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, where he defines these five unique “languages of appreciation.” They consist of: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, tangible gifts and appropriate physical touch.
What is particularly important to note about matching the right “language” to the person is that if you don’t appreciate them in the way they prefer, then they may feel like they have not been appreciated at all. If you have been reading any of our other blog posts you already know that employee recognition is a huge contributor to employee engagement and workplace happiness, so the last thing you want to do is waste your efforts and potentially send the wrong message. So let’s look closer at these “languages.”
Acts of Service
This is really anything you do that eases the burden of responsibilities for someone. This could be bringing lunch/dinner in for staff that are time crunched or have to work late. It could be noticing that someone needs help with setting up a presentation room and pitching in, or debugging a program to make it work faster for a co-worker. Taking over some of the more menial tasks, even when you are the more senior employee, shows you care. Simply noticing that someone needs help without being asked shows that you see them and value them.
In our busy, technology centered world, offering our full, undivided attention to a report or co-worker is really impactful. Managers who get to know their team on a personal as well as professional level, and who regularly check in with one-on-ones or lunch meetings, demonstrate loudly that they recognize and appreciate each team member and their contributions.
Words of Affirmation
For employees that value words of affirmation, a simple “thank you” or “great presentation” means a lot. Shooting an email to a report to thank them for their efforts on a project doesn’t take much effort, but shows that you recognize their efforts and took the time to acknowledge them. However, it is important that your words be authentic and as specific as possible. You don’t want to seem insincere or forced.
When giving gifts, the thought behind them is as important as the gift itself. Thoughtful gifts require attention to detail. Understanding what the employee values is the focus here. If your team has been working late nights to finish a project, then some time off or a dinner out may be appropriate. If an employee is a big fan of a particular sports team, then tickets to a game or some swag with that team’s logo on it shows that you really thought of them. Giving gifts that can only be earned - not bought – are very appropriate here, as the exclusivity of the award or gift has its own value.
Appropriate Physical Touch
Physical touch in the workplace is a sensitive topic, so observe caution here. However, a high-five, or just a proper handshake (now that we don’t have to physically distance so much), can convey the appreciation you want to show. And for those that value physical touch as a language of appreciation, a little can mean a whole lot.
Learning what form of appreciation your co-workers and reports prefer is worth the effort. Approximately 63% of employees feel that they don’t get enough praise. Feeling unappreciated leads to disengagement and could cause your employees to leave you for an employer who better meets their needs. It is difficult to find, hire and train good people, so don’t lose them because you didn’t understand their “appreciation language.”
By Ann Condon, Marketing Manager
Ann Condon has been with Dion for 17 years, working in Dion’s Marketing and Business Development Department. Although this was her first position with a jewelry manufacturer, she has learned a lot over the years. Ann enjoys getting involved in “All Things Dion” from volunteering at the Dion Golf Tournament to being a part of the Dion Diamonds Relay for Life Team. She has quite a number of Dion event t-shirts to show for it!
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