You’ve no doubt heard of the wildly popular self-help book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” by Gary Chapman. It suggests that every person has a primary language that “speaks” more deeply to them than others in terms of communicating love. I won’t weigh in on the validity of this theory as it pertains to personal or romantic relationships, but when it comes to how our employees receive “messages” that communicate their value or standing within your organization, there are definitely different primary languages. What works or is clear for one employee can be ineffective for another. Since today is all about love, it’s a great time to take a look at the 5 love languages for employees. Surprisingly, apart from one of Chapman’s original 5, the languages are identical!
Words of Affirmation- Using words to build up the employee.
Do you think an employee does a great job? Do you appreciate their contribution? Then this one is pretty simple—tell them! Better yet, tell them with an audience from time to time. A quick shout out in a meeting or a mention in a company email does so much to validate an employee’s efforts.
Gifts- A gift says, “They’re thinking about me.”
Gifts are symbolic. If you purchased something for an employee, it shows that you remembered them. It’s less about the value and more about having a tangible “thank you.” Gift cards, hand-written thank you notes, or items for their workspace work well.
Acts of Service- Doing something for your employee that you know they would like.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. It’s one thing to say you appreciate your team; it’s another to put those words into action. Little things like providing lunch, bringing snacks, hosting employee appreciation functions, and putting on team challenges go a long way. One of the best ways to speak this language is to get in the trenches with them. When work loads are massive and hands are short, roll up your sleeves and hop into the fray.
Quality Time- Giving your employee your undivided attention.
Yep, it’s all about face time. One of the common complaints from employees is they feel that their supervisor can’t be bothered to sit down with them. Carve out some time to sit and talk with each of your team members on a regular basis. It can be something as quick as a small check-in each Monday. Just make sure it is indeed quality time. This means turning off your email notifications and putting away your phone. Technology is a significant deterrent in relationships both personal and professional.
A Bright Future- Being forward focused WITH the employee shows that they’re part of the big picture.
The standard 5th love language is physical touch. You can see why that would prove problematic in the workplace. I’ve replaced it with what I consider the most widely desired and most satisfying of all languages when it comes to a career, a future. It’s up to you to show an employee where they’re headed and make them feel confident in the fact that you’re committed to taking them on that journey. No one likes to guess about their future, and in the absence of communication, employees are left to fill in their own blanks.
There you have it. Hopefully, you’ve already tackled taking care of the loved ones in your personal life today (or have a plan in place to do so). Now it’s time to loop in your work team. What can you do today to start speaking their love language?