The 15 Workplace Love Languages

A year and a half ago, I wrote about the five love languages. I mostly talked about how they can be applied to improve romantic, familial, and friend relationships, but I briefly touched on how they can be effective at the workplace.

Last week, I realized that I could expand upon that idea by polling my employees on their workplace love languages. 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.

Thus I present to you the 15 Workplace Love Languages. They’re variations of the original five, but I’ve seen from the results of the survey so far that the specificity matters.

I should mention that I asked employees to pick one #1 love language, and then attribute scores of 2, 3, or X (if something is completely meaningless or even a turn off for that employee) to the rest of them.

  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 (tickets to a Cardinals 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)

What’s your #1?

11 thoughts on “The 15 Workplace Love Languages”

  1. Are these ranked 1-15 based on how your people voted?

    I’ve given employee recognition a lot of thought, and certain things stand out to me from this list. Anytime I’ve asked people about how they appreciate being recognized, and most people cite some form of “more money”. However, in my experience, this tends to be one of the most fleeting forms of recognition–particularly when it’s a raise. People very quickly adjust to the raise as a new norm and it loses its luster.

    I think the most important thing to consider when you’re recognizing someone is your desired impact. Do you want to make the person feel special? Do you want to create a lasting memory or effect? Do you just want the person to realize that you’ve noticed something he or she is doing? Do you want the recognition to motivate continued positive behavior?

    In my opinion, the most important takeaway from the list above is that you are making an attempt to personalize the recognition to what the person likes/desires, which is a great step in the right direction!

    • Trev–The list is numbered just so people could reference specific points in the comments.

      Those are really good questions to ask, and I can see how the answers would vary. I think the last one is particularly good: Do you want the recognition to motivate continued positive behavior? I wonder if there are certain workplace love languages that do that well, and others not so well.

      So what’s your number 1?

  2. By the way, does anyone else think McCain looks a lot like Bilbo Baggins in this picture? (Just add a little more wild hair and try to picture it.)

  3. I give a recognition form to all of my employees when they’re hired that is very similar. It gives several examples of recognition and asks them to place check mark next to the methods of recognition they would prefer (an award or plaque, a thank-you note from their boss, schedule flexibility, lunch with senior management, chance to work on a new project, etc. Raises are pretty strict and scheduled around here). It’s interesting to see the different answers and that what matters to some people doesn’t matter to others at all. I haven’t analyzed them enough to look for trends, but most people usually choose some form of recognition as well as more autonomy at work.

    This one made me laugh. It makes it sound like you work in a prison or something! 🙂

    My #1 choice would be a time bonus–day off from work or leaving early. I cherish my time off!

    “Outside time (a walk in the park during work)”

    • Katie–That’s awesome that you’ve done something like this for a while, and those are some ideas that I hadn’t thought of.

      Ha ha…some people like to take a stroll during work! 🙂


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