How to Really Show Appreciation at Christmas


By Neal Glatt

Have you ever given employees a Christmas bonus only to be disappointed by the response?  There’s a proven reason for this.  (By the way, if you couldn’t pay a Christmas bonus this year, check out “How to Afford a 14% Employee Bonus” in the archives.)  Here’s a better (and cheaper!) way to help employees feel valued.

Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White have done extensive research, testing, and development of what they call The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  You may be more familiar with their #1 New York Times bestseller, The 5 Love Languages, but the concepts apply wonderfully in the workplace as well.

The simple idea is the people express and receive appreciation in five different ways.  An employee bonus covers the appreciation language of Tangible Gifts.  For people who are wired to receive appreciation in this method, a traditionally Christmas bonus would probably do a fine job of making employees feel valued and motivate them to continue doing great work.  (Note that tangible gifts don’t have to be cash or even expensive).  But what about the other 80% of people?  A generous Christmas bonus may have very little impact.

Some people prefer to receive appreciation expressed as Words of Affirmation.  They like to be built up verbally so it would be much better for them to receive a Christmas card with a sincere note or letter.  Instead of cash, tell these people how important they are to the organization, how they uniquely contribute to the mission of the company, and what you enjoy most about them as a person.  Counterintuitive?  Yes, but more importantly, proven to be effective.

A third group of people feel appreciated with Quality Time.  I recognize these people quickly because they describe, almost in awestruck wonder, times when the CEO of their company met with them one-on-one.  For these people, skip the bonus and take them out to lunch.  Get to know them and have a genuine conversation where cell phones stay put away.  They’ll tell all their family and friends what an amazing boss you are for making time for them.

Other people desire Acts of Service to feel appreciated.  This happens to be my appreciation language and I’ll tell you that I love when people dig in on a project with me, stay late to help get things done, or even just help me carry heavy materials without asking.  Sure, I think a Christmas check is nice, but not as nice as working with people who want to work hard alongside me.

Finally, there are people who feel the most valued by Physical Touch.  I know what you’re thinking - the answer is a High Five.  It’s a universally appropriate gesture, can’t be misinterpreted, and is HR approved.  But for people who value physical touch most, it’s goes a tremendous distance in making them feel valued and appreciated.  

If you want to learn more about the Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, check out their website.  You can even assess your workforce and I always recommend my clients do so because of the incredible results this information brings.

And of course, I want to say how much we at GrowTheBench appreciate you!  In fact, we have a little gift for you which you can receive by clicking here.  Merry Christmas!

Tags: Bonus , Appreciation , Reward , Compensate , Christmas ,