The 5 languages of appreciation according to Gary Chapman in the work context

Kristina Püschel
June 22, 2024

In the book "The 5 languages of appreciation in employee motivation", Gary Chapman, together with Dr. Paul White, adapts his well-known concept of the "5 languages of love" for the workplace.

Soft things first

Anyone who knows us knows that we focus on human skills in our day-to-day work. We can only work well (together) if we know ourselves and our colleagues. By measuring these soft facts, we enable employees to work together more satisfactorily and efficiently. Communication is one of 15 soft facts that we have identified and scientifically visualized. And appropriate communication includes appreciation.

The 5 languages of appreciation

Appreciation and recognition play a central role when it comes to motivating employees and creating a positive working environment. Everyone prefers a different type of appreciation, and understanding these differences can significantly improve teamwork and well-being. In the following, we present the five languages of appreciation and show how they can be applied in the work context - by team leads, but also by every individual in the company.

1. words of appreciation

People who speak this language feel valued through verbal recognition and positive feedback. A simple "Well done!" or "I appreciate your hard work" can mean a lot to them.

Application in the work context:

  • Praise in meetings: Praise each other publicly in meetings for your achievements.
  • Personal messages: Write handwritten notes or emails to express appreciation.
  • Regular feedback: Give constructive and positive feedback regularly, not just in annual performance reviews.
2. time together

For people who speak this language, it is important to spend time together. This can mean giving them undivided attention or working together on projects.

Application in the work context:

  • One-on-One Meetings: Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to provide direct feedback and offer support.
  • Team events: Organize team-building activities or joint lunches to strengthen the bond and sense of community.
  • Show presence: Be available for each other and make time for personal discussions.
3. gifts

For some people, gifts are a sign of appreciation. It doesn't have to be expensive; small, thoughtful gifts can have a big impact.

Application in the work context:

  • Occasion-related gifts: Give small gifts for birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Celebrate success: Reward exceptional performance with small gifts such as vouchers or flowers.
  • Company merchandise: Distribute company merchandise or personalized items as a token of appreciation.
4. helpfulness

Some people feel valued when others actively offer them support. This can be done by taking on tasks or offering help with projects.

Application in the work context:

  • Offer support: Actively offer help when someone is overloaded or needs assistance with a difficult task.
  • Promote teamwork: Promotes a culture of collaboration in which team members support each other.
  • Mentorship: Establishes mentoring programs to help new or less experienced employees.
5. physical affection

In a work context, this language is of course the most sensitive, as physical affection is very personal and can often be inappropriate. Nevertheless, there are appropriate forms, such as a friendly handshake or an appreciative pat on the back.

Application in the work context:

  • Respectful gestures: A firm handshake or a pat on the back can mean a lot at the right moment.
  • Non-physical alternatives: Rely on other forms of appreciation when physical gestures are not appropriate, such as symbolic gestures of recognition.

Find the right language

Understanding and applying Gary Chapman's 5 languages of appreciation in the work context can lead to a much better working atmosphere and higher employee motivation. By recognizing what kind of appreciation your colleagues prefer, you can express more effective and personal recognition. This not only contributes to a positive working environment, but can also increase productivity and team engagement.

Kristina Püschel
December 19, 2023