5 Types of Workplace Appreciation

This past week we’ve talked about why people leave their jobs and the importance of appreciation within a team. People usually leave because they don’t feel appreciated. Sometimes it’s because appreciation is not being shown. Sometimes it’s because appreciation is left solely up to the leadership team. Many times it’s because leaders believe that they are showing appreciation, but in actuality they are not speaking in the same language of appreciation that the specific team member speaks. Below are five different types of appreciation you can show your co-workers and team.

#1 Words of Affirmation

Taken from the book, The Five Languages of Appreciation, “Words of Affirmation is the language that uses words to communicate a positive message to another person. When you speak this language, you are verbally affirming a positive characteristic about a person.”¹ This is the most common way people show appreciation, below are a couple of ways you can do that.

Praising Accomplishments

According to the book of the week, The Five Languages of Appreciation, ‘One way to express words of affirmation is to verbally praise the person for an achievement or accomplishment.’¹ One of the most meaningful ways you con do this is to be specific. ‘Effective verbal praise is specific. The more you can ‘catch’ a staff person doing a task in the way you want and call attention to that specific task or behavior, the more likely that behavior is going to occur again.'”¹ So the key to praising accomplishments is in being specific. It’s not enough to just say “thank you”. Thank you for what? That little extra effort to take the time to be specific and say, “Thank you for staying over on Thursday to finish that project” or “Thank you for your input in yesterday’s meeting, you really had some great insight” can make all the difference.

appreciation, workplace, leadership, trees

Photo by Dragomir Vujnovic. Used by Permission.

Praising Character Traits

“Positive character traits in those with whom we work—traits such as self-discipline, perseverance, honesty, integrity, patience, humility, kindness, and unselfishness—are like jewels that should be highly valued. It is likely that most of the people you work with display some of these virtues. The question is, ‘Have you ever expressed appreciation for these character traits?’ For some of us, it is easy to give words of praise for accomplishments but much more difficult to give words of affirmation that focus on the character of another individual.”²

#2 Quality Time

When it comes to quality time, it’s not just about the amount of time you spend. It’s about sharing the type that is most effective with your co-worker or those you lead. Here are 5 types of quality time.

5 Types of Quality Time³

  1. Focused Attention
  2. Quality Conversation
  3. Shared Experiences
  4. Working with Coworkers on a Task
  5. Small Group Dialogue

#3 Acts of Service

Another type of appreciation that some people prefer is “…demonstrating appreciation through acts of service communicates caring. These individuals have the perspective: ‘Don’t tell me you care; show me.’ For them, actions speak louder than words. Therefore, giving them a gift or verbal praise can often be met with indifference. They are thinking, ‘What I could really use is a little help.’”

Below is a meme that perfectly shows how people who value acts of service feel when you show them another type of appreciation.

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 8.17.00 AM

#4 Tangible Gifts

What is usually thought of as highly valued, tangible gifts, “Only 6% of employees choose Tangible Gifts as their primary language, and 68% report it is their least valued appreciation language.”But for those who do have this as their most valued form of appreciation, as Chapman and White point out, “The issue isn’t how much you spent or the monetary value of the gift. The gift should reflect that you are getting to know them and what they enjoy.”When everyone gets the same gift or not a lot of thought is given towards what that particular person would like, your gift can actually miss the mark on the impact you hope to make with that person.

#5 Appropriate Physical Touch

Imagine a world where your spouse or family members never gave you a hug when you were going through crisis. Imagine never being hugged or held as a child? Imagine a grandparent who didn’t want to give their grandchildren a big hug when they walked through the door. We usually associate physical touch with those closest to us. And because of all the misuse, and fear of allegations, any and all type of physical touch has become kind of taboo in most workplaces.

Appropriate physical touches are a fundamental aspect of human behavior. In the area of child development, numerous research projects have come to the same conclusion: babies who are held, hugged, and touched tenderly develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. The same is true of the elderly. Visit a nursing home and you will find that the residents who receive affirming touches have a more positive spirit and generally do better physically than those who are not touched. Tender, affirming physical touch is a fundamental language of love and appreciation. What is true for infants and the elderly is also true for adults in the workplace. Affirming, nonsexual touches can be meaningful expressions of appreciation to coworkers.”6

It doesn’t have to be all weird though and here are a few things to keep in mind when applying this form of appreciation.

Ask Permission

If a team member or  co-worker is going through something life changing at work, it’s good to remember that we are all people with real life happening around us. Losing a parent, going through illness, or having some other life altering event may be appropriate for giving someone a hug. Depending on your background you may feel more comfortable with this or a hand on the shoulder. Either way the best way to get rid of the fear of the way you may be perceived is to ask permission. “Is it okay if I give you a hug?” I think this is a better solution than just standing there awkwardly in fear that you will be taken the wrong way. If someone is really hurting, they will appreciate the gesture, even if they say no.

Use as a Means of Celebration

A few types that The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace mentions are, “A high-five for completing a major project, a fist bump for solving a problem, a congratulatory handshake for closing a large sale, or a pat on the back when a colleague receives an award—all are examples of celebrating together through physical touch.”7

Today we talked about 5 different types of workplace appreciation including words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and appropriate physical touch. When you buy the book there is also an associated test and code you get to find out you or your team’s individual language of appreciation. It just may surprise you. Feel free to share this article with your team, co-workers, and boss. Every Wednesday we have a new book of the week, and throughout the week we talk about leadership skills and self-development.

Join us in an amazing journey of transformation SUBSCRIBE HERE, because we love leaders like you!  

Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl

Every week I talk about a book that we’re reading on leadership and self-development. You can follow along by going to the Book of the Week page at the top. And order a book (either kindle, audible, or paperback) by clicking on the photo of that book. When you do that, it also helps fund this site. 


  1. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (p. 56). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  2. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (p. 57). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  3. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (p. 70-74). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  4. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (p. 82). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  5. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (p. 95). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  6. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (pp. 108-109). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  7. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (p. 113). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.


  1. Pingback: Why People Leave Their Jobs (It’s Not What You Think) – Vigilant Poster Girl

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