5 Languages Spotlight: Quality Time
Many people assume that appreciation is always communicated verbally. While using words is one way to show staff members that you value them, many employees prefer appreciation shown through the language of Quality Time. In fact, Quality Time is the preferred appreciation language for 26% of employees in the U.S. (or, one of every four of your colleagues.)
By Quality Time, we mean spending time with a colleague either by giving the person your focused attention, working collaboratively with them, or (for some people) just “hanging out.” You are showing that you value them by giving them your most precious resource: your time. We are not talking about simply being in physical proximity to another person. Many of us work closely with colleagues all day long, but at the end of the day we may feel that we didn’t have any connection with them. Why? Because the key element of Quality Time is not proximity but personal attention.
Individual and Collaborative Experiences
Quality Time was the language of appreciation that really forced us to consider how the languages of appreciation can differ in the specific actions individuals prefer. In part, this is because workplace quality time often falls into two categories, individual and collegial.
Individual quality time often involves one-on-one time with a supervisor, leader or peer. An employee who values this type of time is looking for focused attention from their coworker. Frequently, they want to be able to share thoughts and observations, ask questions, and get input. This type of interaction is generally valued more by older generations of workers.
Collegial quality time centers more on spending time with colleagues, often doing activities together. This may include something as simple as hanging out together during lunch. Or when multiple employees work on a task together. Spending time together outside of work (for example, getting together to go to a local festival) is another variation. While these activities can include a supervisor or leader, often team members prefer to connect with one another without the supervisor involved. Younger generations, especially Millennials, tend to favor these sorts of interactions.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are many settings in which managers and coworkers can express appreciation through Quality Time. Here are some of the different ways employees have said that they value spending time with both coworkers and supervisors:
- Go to lunch together to talk about work-related issues.
- Go to lunch together and NOT talk about work-related issues.
- Spend time exchanging ideas and solutions to problems and/or challenges.
- Stop by, sit down in my office, and check in with me about how things are going.
- Take a walk together during the lunch hour.
- Have an off-site retreat for the staff.
- Get together to watch sporting events.
- Give me a call occasionally, just to chat.
Spending Quality Time with others often does not require a lot of time — as little as five minutes to check in with them can be meaningful. But make sure you aren’t communicating a sense of being rushed by looking at your watch frequently or allowing yourself to be interrupted by your cell phone. Repeatedly rescheduling the date and time you plan to spend with an employee is also likely to offend them and sends the message that they are a low priority.
When, Where, Who?
As we have worked with organizations, we’ve received important and consistent feedback from non-manager employees. There is a distinct difference between what they desire from their supervisor and what they desire from coworkers. “The issue of quality time is difficult for me,” Holly said, “because it depends whether you are talking about time with my supervisor or time with my coworkers. Although I like my supervisor—he’s a great guy—there are some things I like doing with my colleagues that would feel weird if I did them with my supervisor.” As with all of the languages of appreciation, it is important to learn the specific ways that each individual prefers to be shown appreciation.
The increase in remote workers during COVID has added a new challenge for managers and colleagues of coworkers whose primary language is Quality Time. Make sure to set up individual conversations to touch base. Sometimes this is easily accomplished by setting up one-on-one time either before or after a group conference call. In some cases, connecting through videoconferencing is preferred over phone calls, emails, or text messages alone.
Showing appreciation by spending time with coworkers can take different forms, but the impact on your team members can be significant. If their primary appreciation language is Quality Time, your investment will pay huge dividends. Do you know what your and your colleagues’ primary language of appreciation is? Find out by taking the MBA Inventory.
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Appreciation, Managing By Appreciation, MBA Inventory, Quality Time, Workplace Culture