Measuring Appreciation

How Do You Know If What You Are Doing Is Working? A key issue for the world of employee recognition and employee engagement is the question: How do you know if what you are doing is having any impact? Organizational leaders are saying: “We are spending all of this money on employee recognition and rewards, yet employee engagement continues to be low. Why should we continue to invest our time, energy, and financial resources when what we are doing doesn’t seem to make a difference?” It’s a reasonable question. The answer? Measure the desired behaviors and outcomes. Years of research show... Continue reading...

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February 19, 2024 10:24 am
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The 5 Love Languages at Work – Really?

Since its initial release in 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages has become a cultural phenomenon. In addition to having sold over 20 million copies and being translated into 50 languages, the 5 love languages are frequently referred to in casual conversations – especially those related to romantic, marital, and family relationships. What is interesting to me is that many people are still intrigued by the concept of applying the 5 languages to relationships at work. True, the concept of love at work can seem a bit weird (especially if your definition of love is based on the... Continue reading...

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February 12, 2024 9:53 am
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New Research: If Your Organization Primarily Uses Rewards to Show Appreciation, You’re Wasting a LOT of Money

For more than a decade, research with hundreds of thousands of employees has consistently found that giving tangible rewards to employees to show appreciation and increase employee engagement is a huge waste of money. Fact #1: In spite of companies and organizations, spending billions of dollars annually over the past decades ($16 billion in 2022 alone), Gallup reports employee engagement has actually decreased during the same time period to its lowest level in nine years. Fact #2: Research with hundreds of thousands of employees has repeatedly and consistently shown that receiving tangible gifts is the least desired way employees say... Continue reading...

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February 5, 2024 9:00 am
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Need Tips for Continuing to Build a Culture of Appreciation?

How to Keep Appreciation Growing Most people have good intentions. We want to help improve our workplace culture, become more positive and supportive. And many of us have tried – by starting to apply the languages of appreciation with our team members — but have gotten stuck in our endeavors. For some, your efforts in introducing the 5 languages of appreciation to leaders and colleagues have been met with a lukewarm response, while for others the process started out well, but fizzled before getting off the ground very far. Let me encourage you: Take heart! Steps can be taken to... Continue reading...

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January 29, 2024 10:28 am
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New, Updated Edition of The 5 Languages of Appreciation Released!

Our best-selling book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, has been revised and updated. Originally published as a hardback version in 2011, it was revised and released as a paperback in 2014. We then updated the content and research in 2019.  Obviously, a lot has changed in the workplace since 2019. And new research, including our own, continues to be done in the areas of workplace culture, recognition and rewards, employee engagement – and appreciation. As a result, we worked this past year to update the book to reflect current trends and issues, and to cite the most... Continue reading...

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January 22, 2024 9:00 am
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Avoiding Mistakes: Learning How Others Don’t Want to Be Shown Appreciation

While the primary focus of our work with the 5 languages of appreciation has been to help individuals learn how to communicate authentic appreciation in the ways meaningful to one another, we’ve learned that the flip side is also important. That is, how do you avoid inadvertently using actions to show appreciation that your coworker clearly doesn’t want? The goal is to communicate positively with one’s colleagues, so making them uncomfortable or even offending them is not what anyone really wants. Because we are committed to learning, growing, and improving, we began to explore the issue of avoiding unwanted acts... Continue reading...

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January 15, 2024 9:00 am
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Lessons Learned About Appreciation from 400,000 Employees

In December 2023 we passed a milestone: over 400,000 individuals have taken our Motivating By Appreciation (MBA) Inventory  to identify how they prefer to be shown appreciation at work. (This total includes individuals from over the past 12 years, including pre-COVID-19, during quarantine, and post-COVID-19.) In addition to celebrating this accomplishment (and offering a special discount – see below), we thought we’d also share some of the things we’ve learned over the years from the results of the inventory. Lessons Learned    1. The need for being appreciated hasn’t diminished and continues to be an ongoing desire. The number of people... Continue reading...

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January 9, 2024 9:23 am
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Thinking Ahead: How Are You Going to Improve Your Workplace Culture in 2024?

Yes, we are still in the midst of the end-of-year holiday season and all of the busyness that entails. But many leaders are also reflecting on this past year and asking themselves: “How can we make this next year better? What can we do to improve our culture – connecting people, making them feel valued?” The issues and challenges we encountered in this last year are not going away anytime soon. Helping people stay connected while working fully or partially remote. Less interaction with colleagues. Feeling alone and out there on your own. And it is clear – both from... Continue reading...

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December 18, 2023 10:06 am
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3 Tools to Help You Take a Break and Relax (Right Now)

If you are like me, you probably get tired of all the advice we are given – from social media, blogs, the news, our family. And one of the most common topics is “how to avoid getting overly stressed during the holidays” (which is helpful). But, to be honest, I don’t need more information. I just need to do some of what I already know I should. So, I thought I’d take a different approach this week. I’m going to give you some tools to take a break and relax right now (while you are reading this). Tool #1: Humor... Continue reading...

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December 11, 2023 9:00 am
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Reflecting on the Realities of Loneliness

The increasing references to loneliness in our culture creates a variety of responses within us (some communicated, most are not). Clarifying What Loneliness Is Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Feeling lonely is not just a result of being physically distant from others. We can be in the same room with others and still feel a sense of loneliness. Conversely, it is possible to be alone (physically) and yet feel cared for and connected to others. Loneliness is an internal experience which is often accompanied by sadness, unhappiness and a sense of disconnectedness from others. People who feel... Continue reading...

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December 4, 2023 9:24 am
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Avoiding Holiday Burnout: Tips for Managing Stress

“The holidays.” Those two words are packed with memories, fleeting media images and mixed emotions. The Hannukah-Christmas-New Year’s holiday season has begun, and if you are like me, they cause a rapid succession of excitement, anticipation, anxiety, wonder, and exhaustion (and I haven’t even done anything yet). Practical advice and some you (probably) don’t usually hear. Stress is essentially the experience of having more demands in your life than the resources you have to meet those demands. More stuff to do (make food, travel to relatives) with the same time = stress. Experiencing more people and relationships than you have the emotional energy needed... Continue reading...

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November 27, 2023 9:16 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey: How to Show Appreciation at Work this Thanksgiving

Team leaders are often encouraged (bombarded is actually a better word) to communicate appreciation to colleagues during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Expressing thanks for a job well done is sure to be received well, right? Not necessarily. At times, clueless managers are at risk for saying thanks in ways that won’t be received well. They don’t really “get” appreciation and what the big deal is – but they try anyway, and often their actions seriously miss the mark and actually wind up being offensive. Here are some actions to avoid: The “Who is this person impersonating our supervisor?” card. The... Continue reading...

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November 20, 2023 9:30 am
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An Easy Approach to Thanksgiving: An Activity for All Ages

  Trying to figure out how to make your Thanksgiving celebration meaningful can be challenging. Going around the table and having everyone share something they are thankful for is a time-honored tradition, but it can also feel somewhat mechanical and superficial. So I thought I’d put together a fun activity that might make it easier and more engaging for different ages present, from older adults to children. I call it: “How to Get F’s for Thanksgiving.” Since many of us rely on cues to access out memories, it is helpful to have some present when possible. Pictures, in particular, of... Continue reading...

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November 13, 2023 10:11 am
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The Most Important (and Hidden) Guest at Thanksgiving

We’ve entered November, which means Thanksgiving is approaching. And unfortunately, for many people, thoughts about this year’s Thanksgiving bring up negative reactions and raises our anxiety. (This is in contrast to focusing on past Thanksgiving holidays where we can usually recall some positive memories and feelings.) Why might this be? I would propose that there is a singular guest we all have at our holiday events – regardless of what type of Thanksgiving celebration we have. And this guest is usually hidden, until we learn they aren’t pleased. Who is it? Expectations. Take a moment to think about this year’s... Continue reading...

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November 6, 2023 9:34 am
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Recent Research about Remote and Hybrid Employees

Employees are returning to the office, but with more remote work flexibility than ever before. While it’s clear that remote and hybrid work is here to stay, it can be hard to navigate the continually evolving territory while also ensuring employees stay connected and feel appreciated. We wanted to highlight recent research about remote and hybrid workers and company hybrid policy from Gallup and McKinsey & Company that address some of the successes and challenges of these new work arrangements. Gallup – The Good and Bad of Hybrid Work In August, Gallup released the podcast The Great ‘Global Work-from-Home Experiment’... Continue reading...

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October 30, 2023 1:33 pm
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Answers to Common Questions about Appreciation

When people are introduced to the concept of communicating appreciation in the workplace, a number of questions are frequently raised. Sometimes the questions seem more like a defensive response, with the individual putting up an obstacle that they hope will relieve them from having to take the topic seriously. But many times, the person seems to be thinking through how the concept would apply to their daily work life. So, let’s identify and address some of the most frequently raised issues. “I barely have time to get my normal, daily tasks done each day. How will I find the time... Continue reading...

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October 23, 2023 9:37 am
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What Can I Do If I Really Don’t Appreciate a Coworker?

Let’s be honest, sometimes we have a hard time appreciating some of our colleagues. The reality is, some people are more difficult to work with than others. There are weird people, angry, irritable colleagues, people with a lousy work ethic and poor communication skills, and those that aren’t friendly or have negative attitudes. And there are others we just don’t understand or click with. What can you do? Here are a few tips: Don’t try to fake it. Whatever you do, don’t try to act like you appreciate someone if you really don’t. Most people have very sensitive radar for when others... Continue reading...

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October 16, 2023 9:27 am
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How Do I ‘Move On’ When Someone Has Offended Me?

Sometimes conflict at work arises when we feel we have been treated wrongly. This can result in our feeling hurt, embarrassed, let down by another, offended, angry, and disappointed. These responses are the result when someone’s actions (or lack of action) are in contrast to what we believe should have happened. That is, when our expectations aren’t met by others. Whatever the source of the conflict is, we cannot truly resolve it and move on unless we are able to let go of hurt, anger, fear, bitterness, and the other negative emotions we have. The process of letting go—that is,... Continue reading...

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October 9, 2023 9:00 am
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Do Your Colleagues Need Some Encouragement?

You may be surrounded by co-workers that need to be encouraged and feel appreciated, and you may not know it. While some people ‘wear signs’ on their faces or in their body language that show they are getting discouraged or nearing burnout, many people are harder to read. They may not say much or have non-demonstrative facial expressions. Additionally, some of us are not especially talented at picking up clues sent out by others. Here are some clues that you can watch for to help you know when your coworkers may need a message of appreciation or encouragement: Irritability and... Continue reading...

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October 2, 2023 8:58 am
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Overcoming the ‘Weirdness Factor’ in Appreciation

Feeling awkward about communicating appreciation among team members is normal. This “weirdness factor” is a common reaction when the 5 languages of appreciation are first introduced and teams begin to implement the concepts. It can feel particularly uncomfortable to speak words of affirmation to a colleague you aren’t used to talking to, or aren’t sure what kinds of words to use. What are common signs of people feeling “weird” about the appreciation process? Fear. Fear that others will think you are communicating appreciation “just because we are supposed to.” Fear that people will think your communication is not authentic or... Continue reading...

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September 25, 2023 9:46 am
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Creating a Culture of Appreciation: How to Get Past Common Challenges

While creating a workplace culture rooted in appreciation is fairly straightforward, a number of practical challenges also exist. Even though research has shown that teaching leaders and colleagues how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another can make their workplaces more positive, getting everyone on board can be difficult. After working with numerous organizations to implement the 5 languages of appreciation, we noticed some common challenges and patterns emerge. As a result, we wrote The Vibrant Workplace – Overcoming Common Challenges to Creating a Culture of Appreciation, where we identify and address ten common impediments. You Are Not Alone One... Continue reading...

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September 18, 2023 12:26 pm
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The Different Faces of Workplace Conflict

Not all conflicts look the same. And sometimes we don’t even realize there is tension in the air until someone points it out to us (“Have you noticed how standoffish Julie has been to us since that disagreement in the last team meeting?”). On the other hand, some individuals perceive friction when it doesn’t really exist in the other person’s mind. For example, you may think someone is upset with you because they have been “cool” toward you, when, in actuality, they are not very interactive because they are concerned about their mother who is in the hospital. Let’s lay... Continue reading...

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September 11, 2023 9:00 am
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Life Lessons Learned from Pruning Trees

One of my hobbies is planting and taking care of trees. I love to take a small tree, find the right place for it, plant it and nurture it so it becomes a significant part of the landscape. A piece of the nurturing process involves pruning – which is the process of cutting away dead or overgrown branches to shape and increase the tree’s fruitfulness and growth. Pruning trees is critically necessary for them to grow into well-shaped and healthy organisms, even though it involves cutting and even removing limbs that look healthy. Since I have been taking care of trees for... Continue reading...

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September 5, 2023 8:55 am
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How Do I Communicate Appreciation to My Boss?

Many front-line employees, and even supervisors, have concerns about communicating appreciation to their boss or those higher up in the organization – mainly for fear of looking like they are trying win favor or look good. While showing appreciation can be utilized in this way, most employees need not be concerned. Why? Because, over time, one’s true colors and intent will become evident. One occasion where these concerns come to the fore is Boss’s Day (celebrated on October 16th). At Appreciation at Work, we encourage people to communicate authentic appreciation year-round, but we also understand that this particular day can... Continue reading...

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August 28, 2023 9:52 am
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Overcoming Our Cultural Addiction to Busyness

Busyness seems to have risen to the level of addiction in our culture, and is even considered a badge of honor to some. When, for example, have you heard anyone report: “I’m doing great. I’ve got lots of extra time and energy to do what I want?” But how do we break this unhealthy cycle when it encouraged by many in our society? What is Busyness? To reduce busyness in our lives, we have to first understand what busyness is. Is it a set of behaviors? Is it an attitude? Or a perspective on life? Most people respond: “All three.”... Continue reading...

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August 21, 2023 10:00 am
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6 Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Say Thank You Enough (or Ever)

Words of Affirmation is just one of the five ways employees like to be shown appreciation. And business and organizational leaders are constantly reminded how important it is to communicate appreciation to their staff — and it is. But sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t said often enough. When employees feel truly valued and appreciated, good things follow. Team members are less likely to leave for another job, complain and grumble, steal from the organization, or get hurt on the job. Conversely, they are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and... Continue reading...

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August 14, 2023 9:00 am
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Understanding Workplace Conflict

Conflict at work happens – a lot. And it is a major source of stress for both employees and supervisors. It’s easy for most of us to recall a tense moment in our workplace — to remember the discomfort of watching a not-so-friendly disagreement in a meeting. Or to relive the sting of a critical comment made in front of your colleagues. One study found that, on average, each employee spends 2.1 hours every week (or one day per month) dealing with conflict in some way. Either being directly involved in a disagreement, or managing an issue between coworkers. The... Continue reading...

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August 7, 2023 9:00 am
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5 Misconceptions about Workplace Culture (and How You Can Make a Difference)

Workplace culture is both a hot and important topic in the world today. Companies, organizations, and government agencies are all struggling with the reality that they have seriously unhealthy workplace cultures. Yet many people (including leaders) have significant misconceptions about what creates “workplace culture” and whether or not (or how) it can be changed. Frequent results of these misconceptions include: a) individuals within the organization giving up trying to improve the culture because they view the situation as hopeless b) they want to do something to make a difference but don’t know where to start, or c) their attempts to... Continue reading...

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July 31, 2023 9:38 am
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Can Appreciation Cross Cultures? Or Is It Just an American Concept?

I have had the privilege of traveling internationally to numerous countries to introduce the concept of authentic appreciation in the workplace. And from these experiences I’ve learned that appreciation and vibrant workplaces aren’t limited to certain cultures. And, more importantly, the need for appreciation in the workplace is deeply felt by the leaders and employees who work in these countries. Lessons from a Multinational Training Experience A few years ago, I had the opportunity to train the management and supervisors of an elite international organization in how to communicate authentic appreciation to their staff. Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries,... Continue reading...

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July 24, 2023 9:30 am
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The Employees You Should Worry about Losing? The Average Ones

A disturbing long-term trend has been documented by research – that a vast majority (up to 87%) of the workforce is either not engaged (read: they are present physically but not mentally or emotionally), or are totally disengaged (they actually undermine the success of an organization). This is in spite of the fact that over 85% of organizations have an employee recognition program (which obviously aren’t working). Don’t Focus So Much on Top & Low Performers A basic challenge in working together with others is that not everyone performs at the same level with regard to the quality and amount... Continue reading...

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July 17, 2023 9:39 am
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