While many of us are familiar with love languages in relationships, the concept of appreciation languages in the workplace might be a whole new ball game.
With our primary focus on meeting deadlines and completing tasks, the workplace is perceived as a space for strictly business.
While we may recognize the importance of expressing gratitude along the way, we often fail to give this initiative our full attention.
However, prioritizing these expressions of appreciation can have significant benefits.
“When people feel valued, it leads to great results,” says Dr. Paul White, relationship psychologist and co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. “Along with reducing turnover and internal conflicts, employees feel more secure and care more about doing well.”
On the other side of the spectrum, it can help reduce pressure on the manager. “When employees feel valued, managers are less likely to face complaints and can focus on enjoying their work,” says Dr. White.
Here are four ways to help employees feel genuinely valued in the workplace, creating an enhanced environment for everyone involved:
1. Make it personal.
While check-in meetings are a common practice at work, these typically consist of status updates on projects and deliverables.
“To enable more of a personal and communicative space, try adding an extra 5 minutes to your scheduled meeting,” says Dr. White. “Use this extra time to get a sense of how your employee is
doing – both professionally and personally. This could involve sharing thoughts on their role, current workload, or even their life outside of work.
By creating this space, it reminds them that their wellbeing and satisfaction is just as important as their performance. and offers them an opportunity to voice any concerns they may have.
In the case of remote employees, it can be more challenging to create this space effectively. Without the readily available face-to-face interaction, these conversations have to be much more intentional.
In these situations, one useful tactic is to implement regular meetings via video chat.
“A video conversation has more of a qualitative impact than a regular phone call,” says Dr. White. “This is a great option for remote employees, because it offers an increased personal connection.”
2. Establish trust.
In order to integrate meaningful communication into the workplace, there has to be a give-and-take component involved.
As a manager, ensure that you are sharing appropriate information about yourself. This helps create a safe and trusting space, and can encourage the employee to open up too.
Additionally, it helps to promote this safe space from the start. “Leaders should actively express to their team that this level of support is available,” says Dr. White.
3. Be specific.
There’s a notable difference between regular recognition and authentic recognition, and it all comes down to your choice of words.
“Compliments such as ‘good job’ are too vague,” says Dr. White. “By using specific compliments, the feedback will feel much more authentic.”
Try swapping “nice work” for “I really appreciate the direction you took on this particular project.” Then, dive deeper by identifying a particular area where their skills really shined.
By offering detailed recognition, it helps employees truly feel that their unique expertise is valued.
4. Make it a habit.
“Both spontaneous and structural elements are necessary in work relationships,” says Dr. White. “Solely spontaneous communication won’t stick, and only structured communication feels forced.”
In order to create a healthy balance, focus on being intentionally proactive.
Along with actively scheduling these interactions, it’s critical to weave them into the workday naturally. This can be achieved with small offerings of encouragement throughout the day.
Through conscious appreciation in the workplace, you’ll create a thriving environment that employees can feel good about being a part of.