Lessons Learned About Appreciation from 400,000 Employees

January 9, 2024 9:23 am Published by
The Expanded MBAI & Introducing the Senior Care Version | Appreciation at Work with Dr. Paul White

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 who have taken the MBA Inventory has grown from ~11,500 in its first year, to a high of over 56,000 in one year. During an average workday, between 175 to 250 people will take the inventory.

2. Getting specific is important. Over the years, we have created eleven different versions of the Expanded MBA Inventory related to specific industries. The primary goal has been to develop versions where the actions for each appreciation language are practically relevant to those employees. These versions include General Workplaces, Remote/Long Distance employees, Medical settings, Ministries & Nonprofits, Military, Schools (K-12), Government agencies, Senior Care settings, Professional Trades, Veterinarians, and Dental practices.

3. Appreciation crosses culturesIn response to requests by publishers and consultants, our book  has been translated into 26 languages, and the inventory is available in 8 languages:









(with Hungarian coming in 2024)

We continue to have requests for additional languages of the inventory, and we are currently analyzing data from the MBA Inventory results in these languages (watch for the coming research.)

4. The frequency of individual’s preferred appreciation language has been incredibly stable over time. In 2016, when we reached 100,000 MBA Inventory takers, we found the following distribution of primary language preferences, which is followed by the distribution in research done in 2022 with (at that time) the most recent 110,000 users.

                     Words            Quality           Acts            Tangible

               of Affirmation     Time        of Service          Gifts

2016             47%                   25%             22%                6%

2023             45%                   27%              21%                7%

As you can see that among English-speakers (mostly in the U.S.), the preferences of individuals’ primary appreciation language have remained the same over time.

5. Differences exist across work groups. When exploring various work settings, we found a few trends which demonstrate differences in preferences.

  • Employees in medical settings choose Words of Affirmation as their primary language most frequently (40%) but choose Acts of Service (32%) more frequently than Quality Time (20%).
  • Those who work in military settings choose Acts of Service (37%) as their primary language of appreciation more frequently than Words of Affirmation (33%) and Quality Time (27%) – which is the only group we’ve found not to prefer Words of Affirmation the most often.
  • Remote employees choose Quality Time at a higher rate (35%) than onsite employees (27%) but still choose Words of Affirmation at the highest rate (39%).
  • Differences exist across age groups and generations but they really are more prevalent at the ‘action’ level rather than across appreciation languages. For example, Quality Time for younger employees is more focused on time with colleagues rather than focused attention from their supervisor. And receiving “time off” (comp time, extra paid-time-off) is valued more highly than receiving a tangible gift for more and more team members.


Authentic appreciation from coworkers – communicated in the specific ways that each of us desires – continues to be valued (and needed) by employees. We are excited about the continued opportunity to help organizations teach their team members how to meet this need, regardless of work setting, age, location, or language of the employees. Join with us to get the word out to your friends and family members about our evidence-based, effective, and low-cost resources, wherever they work: companies, schools, nonprofits, government agencies, medical facilities, manufacturing, or the military. We want to assist in people feeling truly valued for who they are and the contributions they make.

Purchase a group of discounted MBAI codes for your team members using these codes at checkout.

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Published by
January 9, 2024 9:23 am

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