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August 30, 2022
January 20, 2021

The 5 Love Languages and the Workplace

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Ah, love. Moonlit walks on the beach, romantic dinners by candlelight, and—wait, this is a business blog? Oh. *ahem* Let’s change gears here.

You’ve most likely heard of love languages before. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor, wrote a book about how people experience and feel love and appreciation. The book narrowed it down to five different love languages:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Physical touch

Everyone tends to prefer one or two of these methods when it comes to how others show them love. But what does this have to do with the workplace?

Well, at Awardco we’re all about showing employee and coworkers appreciation. We know that when people feel appreciated, they’re more motivated, productive, and happy. But showing appreciation in the best way isn’t always easy. After all, if everyone has different love languages, doesn't that mean every employee has different appreciation languages?

In this post, we’re going to break down each of the traditional love languages into more work-appropriate ideas so that you can show appreciation, care, and support to your employees and coworkers in the best, most effective way possible.

Words of Affirmation: Employee Recognition and Feedback

People who enjoy words of affirmation need similar appreciation at work. While you probably shouldn’t confess your undying love for them or give undeserved praise, employee recognition is a fantastic way to tell people how awesome they are.

You can recognize any employee for all sorts of meaningful things. Did they do a good job on that project last week? Tell them about it! Are they always reliable, no matter what? Recognize that accomplishment! Did they just have a birthday or other life event? Show you care by celebrating with them!

Feedback is another important part of this love language. Well-meaning, constructive feedback is key for personal growth, and almost every employee will appreciate hearing how they can improve. Just make sure to convey any feedback in a positive, helpful way.

Quality Time: Creating Friendships

The workplace is just that—a place for work (English is such a creative language). However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put effort into bonding with your employees and coworkers. And those whose love language is quality time will particularly appreciate these efforts.

This type of bonding should be primarily non-work-related. One thing you can do is simply have meaningful conversations with them about their lives, their interests, and their goals. You also have to make sure people actually have time for that type of bonding. Whether through a team lunch or activity, or even just time at the beginning of meetings to chat, that quality time can be a huge morale boost.

Gifts: Employee Rewards and Development Opportunities

Giving this love language a work-related twist was easy! If people feel the most love when they receive gifts, make sure you’re as liberal as possible with employee rewards (and gifts). Whether for birthdays, holidays, work anniversaries, or spontaneous events, make sure the rewards are something that each employee will love.

Hint: With Awardco, you can easily recognize AND reward employees in a personalized way. You can customize the reward and the message you send so that each employee feels appreciated and valued!

But companies only have so much budget for employee rewards and gifts, right? So instead of blowing the budget on physical items only, professional development opportunities are a great work-related gift. Employees want learning opportunities—they want to get better, smarter, and more skilled. And when you provide those opportunities, you can expect a higher retention rate, more productivity, and more profitability. Not a bad deal, right?

Acts of Service: Mentorship and Support

This one is tough because leaders, managers, and employees all have responsibilities, so they can’t go around serving others all day, unfortunately. Luckily, acts of service are really just a way to show that you’re willing to give your time and effort to make someone else’s life better. And providing mentorship and support is a great substitute for the workplace.

Being a mentor to someone means providing them with the advice and guidance they need to really succeed. You should be open to all questions and supportive in any challenge, and you should frequently check in with people to see if they need help of any kind.

Support people by walking them through difficult projects or tasks, providing helpful resources, or even bringing in snacks on a day when everyone is busy or stressed. When you proactively show that you care, the people who prefer acts of service will know that you’re there for them.

Physical Touch: Touchpoints, Encouragement, and Appropriate Touch

We’re not going to make any jokes about how physical touch doesn’t quite work in the workplace—HR violations, awkward interactions, etc., etc. The point is, for people who appreciate physical touch, you can provide touchpoints and encouragement.

A touchpoint can be nearly anything. A quick check in, an effective 1-on-1, or a handwritten note of encouragement; these are great substitutes for physical affection.

But some physical touch is totally okay at work. Give out high fives and fist bumps like they’re candy! That simple physical contact boosts feelings of teamwork, cooperation, and happiness. 

Share the Love (Languages)

Everyone feels appreciation and support differently. Some people may dislike high fives but love quality time, while others may not like socializing but appreciate a sincere compliment. The key is to get to know your employees and coworkers—understand which love language fits them best. Then, you can easily and effectively show just how much you appreciate them and all that they do.

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