The 5 Languages of Appreciation for Your Employees

Showing appreciation in a way that is meaningful to your team is especially important now because of the pandemic! Employee awards and bonuses often come up short as a means for employers to show their appreciation. Why? Because they usually only emphasize performance. Recognition tends to be top down, and most leaders assume all employees value the same thing. 

Take for example, Susie from Accounting. Unfortunately, Susie had to take some personal time to care for her elderly parents. As a result, she didn’t meet the performance threshold and will not be considered for this month’s employee awards. Furthermore, the company’s top down evaluation procedures mean that her small yet important contribution to the communications department (all while dealing with her family) won’t be recognized. Finally, even if Susie did receive the award, she’d get more value from a short-term flexible schedule and one-on-one meeting with the COO (whose parents recently had health issues), over the usual $50 Starbucks gift card.

While there are certainly advantages to awards and bonus plans, the program needs to be  a well-rounded program. In order to achieve this, employers should incorporate the “5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”. These 5 Languages, as identified by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White, take into consideration that there are different ways to communicate appreciation and encouragement, and individuals may value one way over another.


So, what are the 5 Languages of Appreciation? 


  • Words of Affirmation – Using words to communicate a positive message. For example, praising an individual’s personality or accomplishments via a written message, or a one-on-one meeting, or in a public setting. (Remember, extroverts love public recognition and introverts prefer a more private setting.)

  • Quality Time – Giving your focused attention. This can be achieved with a QUALITY (no interruptions!) conversation or shared experiences in a variety of manners. A lunch, a walk, off-site retreat, etc. 

  • Acts of Service – Providing assistance. In this scenario, it’s important to ask before you help, do it their way, and complete what you start.

  • Tangible Gifts – Example include giving awards, time off, or food. 

  • Physical Touch – Handshakes, high fives, or a fist bump.


Motivate Others Through Appreciation


As a leader/business owner, it is important to show employees that they are appreciated; awards and bonuses alone are not sufficient. Go ahead, encourage your managers to recognize and appreciate employees using the 5 Languages of Appreciation. Create avenues for peer-to-peer evaluation. Susie from Accounting deserves to be recognized for her dedication while caring for her parents! 

Implement these changes and your employees will feel they are cared for personally. And along the way, you’ll create a positive, supportive, and desirable work environment. You may experience challenges implementing these changes; business, structural/logistical issues, etc. I can help! You can contact me at