A Guide to Boosting Employee Morale

The 5 Languages of Love. Chances are, you’ve heard of the idea. Gary Chapman’s book, published in 1992, took the self-help world by storm. The idea of the book was that people give (and receive) love in different ways. If you want to know your partner best and be the happiest in your relationships, you should understand what language they speak love in. Do they like Quality Time? Give Gifts? Physical Touch?

Now the idea has migrated to the workplace. Although, it isn’t referred to as “love” there. A variation of the book, called The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, also written by Chapman, has brought a similar idea to the table. That is, managers must learn how their employees FEEL appreciation so that they can connect with them on the level they resonate with.

We found a great article from the New York Times that explores this topic. The article opens with a visceral example that comes along with an ever greater visual one can image, about a mining company in South Dakota.

“The miners of Pete Lien & Sons, in Rapid City, S.D., spend their days drilling, blasting and loading shot rock into trucks. Their hard hats protect them from flying debris. But they also serve a subtler purpose: Each hat has a colorful sticker whose icon symbolizes either quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service or gifts — what are broadly known as love languages.”

The article goes on to explain the feelings of Tucker Green, a 48 year old employee. “When this first started you could see the eye-rolling,” said Tucker Green, 48, a plant employee who likes words of affirmation. “We’re a mining operation, and the touchy-feely thing isn’t something men are generally comfortable with. But it’s become so much a part of what we do. I’m a believer.”

While you may not work in a South Dakota mine, there’s a good chance you can relate in some way to the desire to feel more valued at work. Maybe you appreciate free snacks, gym memberships, catered lunches or paid days off?

The articles goes on to explain, in “recent decades, employers have learned that they have to supplement paychecks with other sources of motivation, especially when they’re asking workers to spend long hours on the job and when there’s a labor shortage. Workers want reassurance that their bosses and teammates like them. The benefits of appreciation are manifold: lower turnover, fewer days missed, even a reduction in on-the-job accidents.”

The Five Languages of Workplace Appreciation are:

  1. Words of Affirmation preferred by 46% of the workforce.
  2. Quality time, preferred by 26% of the workforce.
  3. Acts of Service, which 22% prefer.
  4. Tangible gifts, which only 6% of the workforce prefer.
  5. Appropriate physical touch, which less than 1% of employees appreciate.


We asked Sandy Director of Client Services, Erin Myers to share her thoughts on this vibrant topic. ”Connected leaders continue to recognize that people are our most valuable asset and that our people are core to creating a desirable company culture,” she explains. “As many of us are still navigating remote and hybrid work environments, we’re required to learn new ways of establishing and maintaining relationships with each other. This can be as basic as understanding when someone gets their most productive work done and their communication preferences.”

As a specialist in finding juicy projects for freelance and free agent talent who prefer the #OOOLife to the traditional nine-to-five, Erin understands the challenges and nuances that come with both appreciating AND recognizing employees for the work they do.

“Sometimes appreciation and recognition can be used interchangeably, but they are quite different,” Erin clarifies.  Appreciation shows gratitude for someone’s value while recognition is related to the value of someone’s actions. Understanding what motivates us, how we like to be recognized, and ultimately how we feel appreciated is not just important for ‘managers’ to know, but for our peers as well.”

Interested in learning more about these ideas? Check out the piece in the Times here!