A common aspect across companies with thriving cultures is that appreciation for team members is present and tangible. Knowing that one is appreciated is not quite the same as feeling it, and this difference is crucial when it comes to workplace culture. According to a 2018 survey by SHRM, employee recognition has a positive impact of:
- 89% on employee experience
- 87% on employee relationships
- 86% on organizational culture
- 84% on employee engagement
- 82% on employee happiness
At Reimaginez, we are grateful to be working with Leaders who prioritize their people and their culture and, as a result, whose talent is enthusiastic about showing up and contributing to their vision.
Like many other aspects of a thriving culture, appreciation for team members is best done on an ongoing basis and built into the everyday behaviors that embody your company’s core values. In particular, the end of the year is a special time for going the extra mile in your team member appreciation mission.
But what is the best way of showing appreciation for your talent?
A Framework for Exceptional Connection and Belonging
In 2007, Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White published the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” in which they present a valuable framework for understanding the different forms of appreciation and how they resonate with the different members of your team.
There are three key aspects to succeeding at showing appreciation towards your talent:
1. Culture is the blueprint and the heart of everything you do in the company
Designing each of the five appreciation languages into your culture will make them unique to your company’s identity and contribute to promoting the ways of relating to each other you want to see in the organization.
2. Appreciation languages work similarly to the different languages around the world
If you speak to someone in a language they don’t understand, and they speak back in a language you don’t understand, you might capture bits and pieces of each other’s intentions, but most of the meaning will get lost.
When it comes to appreciation, each of us feels valued by others through different actions. Most people have a primary appreciation language they deeply resonate with and a secondary one. Does this mean they are entirely unreceptive to the other three? Not exactly. It means that if you “speak” to them in a language other than their primary or secondary, they will rationally understand you appreciate them, but they will not feel it as much.
This is why learning to be fluent across all five languages will help you show appreciation to each of your team members in a way that profoundly gets through to them. Bonus tip: for most people, their main language for receiving appreciation is also their preferred one for showing it to others.
3. Much like in languages around the world, each appreciation language also presents multiple dialects
Different team members will resonate better with different ways of communicating within the same language. For example, spending quality time with someone over a shared meal is different from doing it by inviting them to attend an event together. Being on top of these nuances will help create an exceptional experience for your team members.
Five Languages for Workplace Magic
Quality Time: The Gift of Attention
People who have quality time as their primary appreciation language deeply value opportunities to connect with others beyond the usual check-ins. This is especially true when it comes to Leaders offering mentorship, support, and guidance to junior team members.
Quality time can take many different shapes: going for a walk together, sharing lunch, working by the seaside, and inviting someone to come to an event with you, are all great ways of fostering a deeper connection with your talent by giving them your undivided attention. And, of course, a conversation over a cup of coffee remains a timeless classic.
Words of Affirmation: The Magic of Verbal Appreciation
For some people, the best way of making them feel appreciated is by going straight to the point and telling them. But, while it might seem simplistic and cliché, mastering this appreciation language is actually an art.
Frequent “thank you”s and “good job”s can be combined with more extensive and specific praise regarding anything from someone’s delivery in a certain project to how grateful you are to have them in the company.
The best way of getting through to them, however, depends on the team member: options include verbal acknowledgment in front of others, leaving them a note in their workstation, sending them a Slack message, crafting a handwritten card, or telling them in person.
Presents: The Art of Gift-Giving
Gift-giving in the workplace is a great way of showing someone you know them, you care about them as an individual, and you support their journey by investing in them. Explore our 2021 Gift Guide for High Achievers for some great ideas to add value to your team members’ paths and to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Acts of Service: The Gift of Practical Help
When gifts and verbal affirmation don’t seem to do the trick, we might be relating to a team member whose main appreciation language is more on the practical side.
Acts of service are a way of showing appreciation through thoughtful actions that are valuable and purposeful for the receiver. This implies getting to know the person and understanding how you can be of service to them: depending on the team member, it can be anything from making them a cup of coffee or picking them up at the airport to helping them out with a project or making valuable referrals for them.
Physical Touch: The Magic of Connection
Out of the five languages of appreciation, physical touch in the workplace is the most delicate. However, because nothing beats a good high-five or a pat on the back for those who truly appreciate it, it is important to keep an open and positive mindset around it.
What’s essential to keep in mind when approaching physical touch as an appreciation language is the social and cultural context: what’s regarded as appropriate physical contact varies between countries and communities. Being mindful of cultural differences and, of course, of each person’s preferences, is crucial for mastering this appreciation language and creating meaningful experiences.
Appreciation Elevates Culture
Showing appreciation to team members is a wonderful way of nurturing your company culture throughout the entire year. If you’re starting to experiment with the different languages, the end of the year is a particularly special time to show a deeper level of appreciation and bring additional magic into the workplace. As we previously mentioned, appreciation is the most effective and meaningful when it is aligned with your culture and the behaviors you want to create.
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