5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Do you appreciate your colleagues? Here are five key ways to show it.

You’ve probably heard of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts. Understanding these can be beneficial in your personal life, but what about at work? Appreciation is key, considering a lack of it often leads employees to quit. We remixed the love languages to guide you on your journey to creating an engaged, positive, gratitude-filled culture:

1. Words of Praise

Our first language was inspired by, you guessed it, words of affirmation. Praise is the best (and simplest) form of positive feedback! It lets people know when they are doing something right. Acknowledge the big wins, but don’t forget to recognize daily efforts. After all, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

2. Personal Connection

Building personal connections with others at work signals that you care. Strive to know your colleagues outside of just work. Ask about their personal lives and genuinely listen. One on one meetings or lunches are a great opportunity for this. You can also lean into team bonding which can happen at a yearly company party, a spur of the moment happy hour, or a team trip to the bowling alley. However you do it, building a personal connection with someone truly demonstrates appreciation.  

3. Mentorship & Collaboration

Express appreciation for others by helping them grow. Experienced employees can mentor and teach those that are younger or newer. As a manager, share knowledge with and guide your direct reports. It’s also great to share knowledge and collaborate peer-to-peer. You don’t have to be in a leadership position above someone else to impact them! People want to learn from those around them.

4. Awards

Awards can be split into two categories: milestones and nominations. Milestones, also known as service anniversaries, provide yearly opportunities to emphasize how appreciated employees are. Elevate big career milestones (every 5 years) with an award or gift and a celebration if possible. Loyalty and years of hard work should never go unnoticed!

Whether they are big or small, nominations also highlight daily efforts and dedication. If your company has a nomination program, you can recognize an employee that is living out a core value. They will feel seen, and this helps further instill those values into your culture. Bigger awards that are given out once a year are also a chance for front line employees and managers to nominate others and express gratitude.

5. Pleasant Surprises

Surprises can bring a lot of joy. A favorite candy bar, custom company swag, a free team lunch, an extra day off…there are plenty of ways you can create a pleasant surprise. Sometimes the unexpected gifts or treats are the most exciting and thoughtful. And they don’t have to be expensive! Always try to throw in a handwritten note detailing why you appreciate the person.


Whether you are a people leader or a front-line employee, utilize each of these appreciation languages in the workplace. Try to identify others’ main appreciation language so you can maximize the impact. Your appreciation will come across as more genuine when you tailor it to the individual. That’s the power of authentic recognition and appreciation.