What the 5 Love Languages Can Teach Us About Job Satisfaction

By David Hassell

The nature of motivation is different for everyone, but underneath it all lay a set of ideals. Whether it’s a pat on the back, an award for a job well done, or some one-on-one time, we each have unique emotions attached to what makes us feel appreciated.

Our motivation is maximized when we receive our ideal form of praise, encouragement, or reward for our efforts. Since it is the job of a manager, leader, or boss to not only keep the company or department running but also to keep up a happy workforce; understanding what makes individuals tick is crucial for helping the bottom line.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

In the 21st century, a thriving business tends to be based on relationships. Since 1995, relationships (couples) around the world have been learning from Gary Chapman’s seminal book, The 5 Love Languages. According to Chapman, the desire to be loved is our deepest human desire, and one that is often left unmet due to the differences in the way we express and receive love. He explains that in order for us to feel as though our deep-seated need for love is met, the love that we receive must make sense to us.

“Taking [The 5 Love Languages] into the workplace was a natural transition”, explains author Gary Chapman, who in 2012 in collaboration with Dr. Paul White released The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. “Because we don’t normally think in terms of our coworkers loving us — the word appreciation fits much better — but it is meeting that deep need to feel that somebody cares about me, and somebody appreciates me.”

Having been inspired by Chapman’s original book and understanding of these languages, Dr. White saw the need for the love languages in the workplace. “Every person is unique in the way that they feel love or express love in personal relationships, but it’s the same in how they feel appreciated and valued in work relationships,” explains White.

Thus, the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace were born:

1. Words of Affirmation – uses words to affirm people
2. Acts of Service – actions speak louder than words
3. Receiving Gifts – people like things to feel appreciated
4. Quality Time – giving someone undivided attention
5. Physical Touch – appropriate touch (pats on the back)

However, large companies, with hundreds, if not thousands of employees can’t possibly take the time to invest in identifying each person’s language of appreciation, but department heads and team leaders can and should. Why? It is directly correlated to job satisfaction, increased employee productivity, and to the health of the organization. In order to have good health at an organizational level, the individual level must be taken care of first.

Satisfied Employees Are Happier Coworkers

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Those words could not ring any truer. If a manager or leader can properly create and maintain a happy workplace, team members will seamlessly work together, be more productive, and more engaged therefore helping the company as a whole. “Work has become a barely bearable chore, with only 45 percent of workers in a recent survey saying they were happy with their careers,” explains Dr. White.

But it doesn’t have to be so. Staff on the front line want to encourage each other too. “What we found was that when we incorporate the peers, teams, and the colleagues along with the supervisors it’s a very powerful model that creates a positive snowball as far as changing the culture.”

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When we feel valued and appreciated, we are able to perform at peak levels. Feeling cared for and supported increases our mental and emotional wellbeing, which translates into improved work performance. When we maximize our personal performance, we find ourselves with the time and ability to reach out and support our colleagues, in turn. Eventually, as team members begin to work in greater unison, they will begin to see the fruits of their shared labor and become more invested in their success as a team.

There is No One-Size-Fits-All

If the 5 Languages of Appreciation teaches us anything, it’s that no two individuals are alike, and that we each have our own unique desires and needs. While it may seem like a daunting prospect at times, it is the responsibility of a leader to learn which languages are most meaningful to her staff.

“Take quality time for example. It may be that some people want some individual time to talk with their supervisor, while others don’t want to meet with their supervisor at all,” explains Dr. White. “It just differs for everyone. So we created an assessment to help these people identify their top languages, and their least valued language (a blind spot for a manager), but also the specific actions and for whom.”

One of the best ways to discover how others prefer to be acknowledged and recognized is to practice experimentation and observation. For example, try taking your staff out for a one-on-one lunch once month. Observe the impact of your gesture — did they respond positively? Did they seem happier? Did you notice an improvement in their work? Did they pass on the gesture by doing something kind for a coworker? These are all indications of how effective that method of appreciation was.

While the ultimate goal of any plan or program to increase staff engagement is to improve the health and productivity of your organization, challenging yourself to create an environment where employees feel appreciated and valued can have impacts far beyond the bottom line.

While it may not be measurable, happiness truly is an invaluable commodity in the workplace — and one that is endlessly attainable. is thankfully in endless supply.

5 Languages of Appreciation

Have you made the choice to invest in happiness? Share your favorite ways to appreciate those around you. Leave a comment! Do you know what your language of appreciation is? Three lucky commenters will win a signed copy of the book!

Image Credit: viZZZual.com

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  • Curtis Martin

    My favorite way to show appreciation is with a handwritten note. The company also has an e-appreciation form that can be sent to an employee. This also goes into a drawing each month for gift cards. My language is words of affirmation (the note cards), but I have realized that some people don’t really register that as recognition. Some people need quality time, or acts of service (like my wife). Those are not on my native radar, so I have to work at it once I recognize the signs that is needed.

  • Shanelle Mullin

    Awesome interview! I think I appreciate those around me in one way and like to be appreciated in another. I tend to give acts of service, but I prefer affirmation and/or quality time. Do people always fit into just one language?

  • David

    I do feel somewhat under appreciated, which in turn has effected my own self-esteem and knowledge as to whether I am really any good at my job. I was not sure if it is an important aspect in Job’s these days? It seems it is. 🙂

  • Deb New

    Experience tells me saying thank you and “you’re appreciated” is huge and so easy. At the end of a big project we sent thank you notes, balloons and a $5 gift card to people and they’re still talking about it months later!

  • Pingback: VideoBlog Interview with David Hassell (cited by Forbes as “The Most Connected Man You Don’t Know in Silicon Valley”) « Dr. Paul White()

  • VidCruiter

    Great article. The value of employee engagement and recognition is something that is often overlooked by employers. Keeping your human capital happy and engaged is one of the best ways to increase your bottom line and decrease costly employee turnover. Determining you company culture and hiring right the first time is a great start.

  • Walter Melanson

    Folks do like to be recognized for their accomplishments – YES – but some would rather have those “accomplishments” equally recognized by the very people that work within their echo system and not only to the people they report too.

    One way we accomplish that at PropertyGuys.com is to look for opportunities to share our people’s success stories with their peers and celebrate their successes in more of a public forum.

  • Megan

    I’ve worked in a couple of major organizations. One company had “reward certificates” – anyone could send smaller amounts to anyone in the company and higher amounts required signoff from managers or above. It was always a pleasant surprise to receive one of these reward certificates as it meant that someone had really noticed hte hard work I was doing.
    A later company, however, had serious issues with employee recognition. I ran a major project with national news coverage which required hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime and I was barely recognized (the only people who sent me a thank you note were external to my department), while my co-worker who did a few half hour seminars in different cities to talk with clients was nominated by management for a company wide award and celebrated at our annual conference. This oversight is something that really stuck with me and I left the company feeling unappreciated and unsatisfied. I later found out through an ex co-worker that the managers and directors realized how badly they had treated the entire situation after I left. Sharing the success of employees & recognizing their achievements is essential and I love the ideas presented to managers here.

  • Davvy

    Very insightful article. My favourite way to show appreciation is to take someone out for coffee or dinner.

  • fatima

    A kind word, a kind act have been things my parents taught me to practice since I was young. And as an adult now I have always seen the impact these small gestures have on others.
    I really wish everyone realized the powers they had at their disposal – it’s free and it’s for everyone.
    Considering we spend so much time with random people these small things can have a huge positive impact and that’s good that the word is being spread.
    Thank you.

  • Elizabeth

    My parents have always taught me to say please and thank you, especially when asking favors of others. Now working as in intern, I really appreciate good manners. A simple word of thanks can easily make someone’s day brighter. I still have much to learn, but I hope others will catch on and make the workplace a much more enjoyable place.

  • Karine

    I think that human relations in the workplace are the foundation to a winning enterprise.

  • Scott Matheson

    My way to show appreciation for people is to cook them a nice meal. Nothing says more than a home cooked meal. And there is no better place to talk than in a kitchen while preparing the meal 🙂

  • Bryan

    A very well-written article! I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand what they’re going through in life. It’s humbling to see how everyone is just trying to get by and be happy. We’re all in it for the same reason! To enjoy life!

  • dougo13

    Interesting. Worth a read at the very least.

    Thank you…

  • Nicky

    I appreciate those around me with words. I tell them what I appreciate about them or their actions. I find people are often surprised to hear direct positive feedback (especially at work!), so it’s nice to be able to make someone smile and feel good this way.

  • Diane S

    I had our group write something about each of the others that they appreciated. Then they were handed out anonymously.


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