Why Appreciation in the Workplace Matters

Remember Mary Ila’s take on “How to Be Authentic with Your Appreciation at Work”? We reference Chapman & White all the time in training and coaching with our clients. To celebrate Valentine’s Day with full hearts in the workplace, we’re bringing you an early look at the new updated version of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

We subscribe to the newsletter from Appreciation at WorkTM and got one of the first announcements of the new, post-COVID research on professional appreciation. Right away, I asked the team if we could do a blog about it. New research!? Yes! Here’s the blurb we got: 

Appreciation at Work has done peer-reviewed research and polling through and post-COVID. The result of this research is a completely new chapter on how to effectively show appreciation to remote and hybrid employees including topics such as: 

  • the variety of remote work relationships 
  • trust in remote work relationships 
  • creating and maintaining a workplace culture 
  • the employer/supervisor perspective 
  • the employee perspective 
  • the key to keeping remote employees 
  • what neuroscience is showing 

This edition also includes updated research (50+ citations) of data shared about the importance of appreciation and its positive impact on the functioning of businesses & organizations (including increased productivity and higher profitability when your employees feel appreciated.

Source: Appreciation at Work

I read it, loved it, laughed, cringed, and mostly just appreciated for the millionth time that Gary Chapman & Paul White adapted the Love Languages for professional relationships. They present their research on appreciation at work in a relatable, real life way. Here are some of my favorite quotes, classic and new:

  • “During the Great Resignation of 2022, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that employees were three times more likely to resign due to a lack of appreciation in comparison to financial compensation issues.”
  • “When leaders actively pursue teaching their team members how to communicate authentic appreciation in the ways desired by the recipients, the whole work culture improves. Interestingly, even managers and supervisors report they enjoy their work more. All of us thrive in an atmosphere of appreciation.”
  • “74% of employees never or rarely express gratitude to their boss.” (Reminder that appreciation is important up, down, and sideways!)
  • “There is a distinct difference between the Quality Time employees desire from their supervisor and what they value from co-workers. In response to this issue, we expanded the Motivating by Appreciation Inventory to allow individuals to indicate what actions they desire and from whom they want them.”
  • Acts of Service are about the other person, not about you. “Ask before you help. Don’t assume you know what help they want or need. If you are going to help, do it their way.”
  • “Our research with over 375,000 employees found that Tangible Gifts is the least chosen language of appreciation.” So if you’re going to do it, it’s important to give gifts “primarily to those individuals who appreciate them” and “give a gift the person values”. (Lorrie wrote about HPC’s take on gifts in “A Few of Our Favorite Things”.)
  • “The surest way to find out the appropriateness of Physical Touch is simply to inquire.” Many people appreciate a good high five, fist bump, or handshake to celebrate a job well done. Just check with them first, and don’t hold it against them if they prefer not to touch.

Chapman & White also devote an entire chapter to the ROI of genuine appreciation. Take a look at these charts from the book: 

Flow chart indicating that personally relevant authentic appreciation leads to employee engagement; which leads to reduced turnover, reduced absenteeism, and improved productivity; which leads to a better bottom line. 
Table chart indicating the overall impact of employee engagement in organizations. One column lists results of employee engagement, and one column describes the associated research findings.

Regarding remote and hybrid teams, Chapman & White basically say the needs are the same as fully in-person teams, but the intensity of certain needs are different. Here’s a snippet from the chapter on remote teams: 

“In one study, prior to COVID-19, with almost 90,000 individuals who had taken our online assessment…we found that Words of Affirmation was the most desired appreciation language, followed by Quality Time and Acts of Service. But remote employees chose Quality Time as their primary language of appreciation more frequently (35% of employees) than workers on site (25%). The same pattern was found with employees both during the pandemic and afterwards.” 

They go on to say, “…the single most important lesson we learned for effectively communicating appreciation to remote colleagues is that one must be more proactive than in face-to-face relationships. The most important factor is to understand, affirm, and relate to your colleagues as people.”

If you saw our new team video highlighting our operating values, or if you’re a longtime HPC friend, you know that People First is our number one value. We are all just people, with the same ups and downs, and the same desire to be loved, appreciated, and valued. If we were to sum up the 5 languages book(s) in the simplest terms, we’d say Be People First. Be people first toward yourselves, and be people first towards others. 

If we remember to be People First, we just might get better at genuine appreciation all on our own. 

For individuals or teams interested in learning more about The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, we highly suggest starting with the MBA InventoryTM, then reading the book (or listening to the audiobook). If you purchase the book, it comes with an access code to take the inventory. If you’d like to jump straight to the inventory, you can buy a single access code or codes for your entire team here. (I feel like it’s important for me to say that we’re not being paid to promote any of this, we just really like it.)


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Jillian Miles Massey