What’s Your Workplace Love Language?

2 September 2019 | 9 Comments

At a recent wedding, I was reminded of the 5 love languages, one of my favorite concepts for romantic relationships. The idea is that people feel and express love in different ways (gifts, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, and acts of service); it’s important to remember that the ways you feel loved may not be the same as your partner.

My previous job was as a director operations at a campus facility, and I managed a staff of around 15 people. It was there that I realized I could apply the concept of love languages–which work for any type of relationship, not just romantic–to the workplace. These are ways to show appreciation when an employee has gone above and beyond the call of duty, or celebrate an employee on a day that means something special to them.

So given that today is Labor Day in the US, I thought I’d share these workplace love languages with you. They’re variations and iterations of the original 5. In no particular order:

  1. Small cash bonus ($100 cash)
  2. Small permanent raise ($10/mo)
  3. Time bonus (extra day off, get off work early)
  4. Special recognition (thank you in the newsletter or company digest)
  5. Food treat (your favorite cake, candy)
  6. Special perk (have your car washed or your dry cleaning taken care of)
  7. Quality time with a loved one (gift cert to a new restaurant for you and your spouse)
  8. Quality time with an animal (bring your dog to work day)
  9. Personal growth (paid seminar or conference)
  10. Surprises (surprise party or gift)
  11. Touch (a hug from a staff member or a gift cert for a professional massage)
  12. Sporting event (nice tickets to a game)
  13. Group activity in your honor (staff happy hour)
  14. Outside time (a walk in the park during work)
  15. Corporate perk (company car for a week, special parking place)

One thing I’ve realized since then is that if you’re not in a leadership role, you can proactively share your workplace love language with your boss, just like it’s worth sharing your romantic love language with your partner so they don’t keep giving you gifts when you actually prefer for them to do your laundry. If there are a few of these love languages that make you feel truly valued, I think it’s worth telling your employer.

From an employer perspective, I’d recommend two things: One, please keep in mind that these love language perks are not a replacement for ongoing compensation, raises, and bonuses. Two, if you’d like to be prepared to celebrate an employee, feel free to send out this list to your team and let each person pick their top 3 love languages now. That way you already have their information when the time is right.

What are a few of your workplace love languages? Are there any you’d add to this list?

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9 Comments on “What’s Your Workplace Love Language?

  1. I’m a big-time believer in companies investing in their employees by showing appreciation. I worked at one company many years ago that did a great job of showing their employees how much they appreciated them, and then new management came in. All the appreciation stopped. As a result, many people left. The job didn’t get worse, the management just simply didn’t appreciate their staff as much anymore.

  2. I think the original book might be interesting for some of your readers so here it is:

    The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
    by Gary Chapman

    I am actually reading it now myself and it’s an interesting, and easy, read.

  3. The place I currently work does a great job of showing appreciation. They provide free coffee in the break room every day, there’s also a popcorn machine, occasionally catered lunches or snacks. Quarterly and annual awards to recognize people.
    For me the coffee is best. Don’t have to make my own or buy a cup, it’s just there everyday.

  4. At the indie video game company my wife and I started we currently have unlimited sick time and 20% project time.
    Neither of us get sick that often but when we do we’re usually hit hard so not having to worry about deadlines or goals helps immensely.
    The 20% project time we call “Fridays Are For Fun” or FAFF. We each can take 20% of our time (it can be on any day) and work on a fun pet project. These projects help our creativity because it eliminates the burden of the business of creativity.

  5. This is fantastic and I really thought that I was ground-breaking in my approach at both the FBI and the Air Force with teams which I’ve led. Taking a page from D&D DM days, it’s all about what incentivizes the character…is it love, a feeling of accomplishment, revenge (not recommended for the office), or whatever it may be. Through the course of our initial chat where I had the opportunity to set expectations for work performance and find out about each of the them and their families, I also took the time to find out a bit more…what incentivizes them or as you state…what’s their “love language” and how might I reward them.

  6. One not mentioned, but which is of utmost importance to me: the authority to make decisions. The feeling of “owning” one’s work is powerful, motivating, and pleasurable, and the authority to make decisions is critical to creating it. Managers have to practice delegating and letting go to make it happen.

  7. That’s quite an interesting perspective.

    At my workplace we nominate a person we feel like did something really helpful/extraordinary or was just nice in on or another occasion and they get put up for a perk (like a day off, or a massage, a voucher, etc).

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