There are five work love languages. Here's how to work out yours.

By now most of us are aware of the concept of ‘love languages’. If you’re in a relationship - and you're lucky - your partner will know if you're all about verbal expressions of devotion (words of affirmation), and you’ll know that when they make you a coffee unprompted, that’s their way of expressing the same thing (acts of service). 

According to Gary Chapman who developed the five love languages — and wrote about them in his 1992 bestseller, The 5 Love Languages, understanding each other’s love language is the key to a harmonious relationship

What you may not know is that love languages don’t just apply to romantic relationships; they also apply to an employee's relationships with their employer. And can make all the difference to employee satisfaction and retention.

Chapman developed the workplace equivalent of love languages in partnership with psychologist and leadership trainer Paul White, who went on to write The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. 

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Some of us love proactive validation from our superiors, plunging into panic if we don’t receive constant praise. Others find continuous contact smothering, leaving them feeling micromanaged, the constant checking-in a sign trust is lacking. 

But, why does it matter? Well, according to research, employees who feel valued do more work, more quickly, and are less likely to jump ship. They’re also less likely to be cranky, creating a more positive work environment for everyone. 

Interesting, the five workplace love languages are similar to romantic relationship love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, tangible gifts, appropriate physical touch and acts of service - here's that they mean in relation to a work environment.

Words of Affirmation.

A person who fits into the 'words of affirmations' group thrives on positive feedback — lots of it — regardless of whether it's verbal or written. 


Praise for accomplishments and even personal character traits keep this type of employee engaged, confident and happy. 

Quality Time. 

The quality time lover needs in-person time to feel connected to their workplace. That includes regular one-on-one feedback sessions, or regular check-ins. 

This type of employee also thrives off team-building activities and social gatherings, where everyone is focused on each other. That means putting phones away. 

If there's a quality time loving remote worker on the team, get used to scheduling regular Zoom calls. 

Tangible gifts. 

As the name suggests, the gift lover loves something tangible as proof of appreciation. It could be a literal gift, like a bottle of wine or box of chocolates to say ‘well done’ on a big achievement. 

But it doesn't have to be physical. It could be offering time off to run errands, allowing them to watch their child play school sports during the day, or a willingness to provide flexitime. 

These employers are all about give and take - literally. 

Appropriate physical touch. 

A tricky one to navigate, appropriate physical touch can mean a lot to the right person. 

This could mean a high five, a fist pump, a handshake or even a pat on the back. Steer away from anything too intimate though. 

Acts of service 

This type of employee wants to know their employer cares about them. Acts of service could include removing an action item, bringing them a coffee when they’re flat out or lending them a charger when their phone dies. 

Ultimately, it’s about showing an interest - now and in the future. That could mean connecting them with a mentor or giving them the heads up about a new job opportunity. 

Feature image: Getty

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