Last year, I wrote a blog about some of the ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in the office. These suggestions ranged from needing a little planning, to last-minute-can-dos, and you can check them out, here.
This year, I took a little bit more time in deciding what I wanted to plan for Employee Appreciation Day, and while I can’t share it all now (it’s a surprise!), I can provide the background.
A few weeks ago, I picked up a book called, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, by Gary Chapman and Paul White. If you haven’t read this book, or at least the Cliff Notes, I highly suggest you do.
To paraphrase, everyone has a dominant appreciation language, or a preferred way to give and receive recognition. These languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Gift Giving, and Physical Touch, and there are several dialects within each language. For example, in Words of Affirmation, does the individual like one-on-one personal thank yous, or do they prefer to have their praises sung in public?
So, what would examples of each language look like? I’m glad you asked:
- Words of Affirmation: tell me you think I did a good job.
- Acts of Service: help me complete a project.
- Quality Time: take me to lunch.
- Gift Giving: give me something you know I would appreciate.
- Physical Touch: give me a high five after a presentation well done.
Now, I know what you’re thinking about that last one. Physical touch does sound like something that can lead to a lawsuit, but there are ways that it can still be utilized in the office. For some, a handshake or pat on the back after a meeting can mean more than a nice note. The trick is to understand the balance of appropriate and inappropriate, and to understand if someone does, or really doesn’t, appreciate this language.
So, why is this important to know? Because there can be a disconnect between the giver and the receiver of recognition, and if it does not align, it can create confusion and possibly resentment. For example, let’s say that Sally just completed a particularly gruelling RFP, and her appreciation language is Acts of Service. Meanwhile, her coworker, Fred, knew she was working on this, and his appreciation language is Words of Affirmation. Upon submitting the RFP, Fred might say to her sincerely, “great work on finally getting that RFP squared away!”
Although she may smile and say thank you, Sally might be thinking, “yeah - and it would have been done sooner if I had had some help.” Fred walks away from the situation thinking that he has recognized Sally, and maybe even motivated her. Whereas Sally is left frustrated and annoyed.
Now, what does this have to do with Employee Appreciation Day?
In an effort to better know our team, I sent everyone a short survey to find out their appreciation language. This was two-fold; knowing this going forward ensures that we are effectively communicating, but more importantly, I could tailor Employee Appreciation Day for each individual to guarantee that it is meaningful to them. Keep an eye out over the next few days for the surprises our team has in store for Employee Appreciation Day, and how we plan to utilize the 5 Languages of Appreciation.