A popular relationship book first published 20 years ago is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In his book, Chapman describes five primary ways in which we each feel loved. Each of us feels loved and appreciated in different ways and the book tries to improve romantic relationships through learning your partner’s primary love language and demonstrating it regularly. The love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. To borrow from Chapman’s concept a bit, I’d like to introduce The Four Employee Engagement Languages.
As managers and colleagues, we know the importance of employee engagement and a primary way we can keep employees engaged is to ensure they feel valued as a member of our organization.
1) Words of Affirmation
You have probably noticed that many of your employees or coworkers often find encouragement through recognition. Whether it’s for taking on an extra project or going above and beyond for a customer, simple recognition of that effort can speak volumes to an employee who appreciates words of affirmation. As a manager, find out which of your employees or colleagues appreciates encouraging words and affirm them regularly. Be sure to find out whether that employee prefers this recognition publicly or privately as it can be damaging to provide public recognition to an employee who doesn’t like lots of attention drawn to him or her.
2) Acts of Service
Some employees feel appreciated when a coworker or manager steps in to assist with a project or takes care of a problem without being asked. When someone jumps in to help relieve your workload or volunteers to take care of an unwanted project, you’re likely to feel a sense of unity within your team. Consider which employees might most appreciate someone stepping in and sharing the load and seek to meet that need when possible.
3) Receiving Gifts
Similar to words of affirmation, some employees enjoy receiving those small notes of encouragement or a box of chocolates to show appreciation. There are many organizations and catalogs at HR’s disposal to find creative ideas for employee recognition through small gifts. Be sure to recognize small achievements as well as the big ones. Don’t just wait for an employee to earn a certification to be given an award, find ways to award employees for the small things, too. And, it’s not always a specific achievement, but sometimes just a simple reminder of how much the organization values that employee.
4) Quality Time
You might recognize the employees who need quality time as the ones who often stop to talk with their coworkers or are quick to offer to have a meeting instead of an email or phone call. Employees who most appreciate quality time enjoy the interaction with their manager or colleagues and thrive on the ability to spend time with people, even if it’s just for work. While it can sometimes be viewed as a time-waster, consider employees who seem to enjoy or find a need for that extra meeting and try to meet one-on-one with them when warranted.
Getting to know your employees and coworkers at a deeper level and finding out what makes them tick will benefit both you and employees. Find the ways they feel most appreciated and seek to ensure they feel valued and remain engaged team members.