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Book Summary – The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the workplace - Book summary

Many people are feeling strained and under-valued at work. Appreciation can create a better workplace for employees, and help companies to improve motivation and retention, without a huge cash outlay. Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, had positively impacted millions worldwide with their love relationships and marriages. This book, co-authored with Dr Paul White, addresses the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace, i.e. how to how to effectively communicate appreciation at work using the 5 languages that are important to people. This free version of The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace summary, gives an overview of the key concepts and the 5 languages of appreciation.

Why Workplace Appreciation?

Business competition has become increasingly global and intense. Retaining quality employees has become a crucial element of business success, and even survival. Studies in the United States found that only 12% of employees leave for more money; 88% leave for non-monetary reasons e.g. not feeling trusted, supported or valued.

The Importance of Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is an key factor of employee retention and organizational success:

  • One of the biggest organizational costs is staff replacement. Besides the tangible costs like termination, advertising, recruiting, selection, and training, there are also intangible costs like the temporary loss of efficiency, impact on morale and customer relationships. This is especially so since the team members lost are usually those who are the most talented and capable.
  • Staff retention and customer satisfaction. When employees are satisfied, they are less likely to even consider leaving their current jobs. Higher employee satisfaction is also correlated with higher customer satisfaction, which is key for business success.

The Importance of Workplace Appreciation

Job satisfaction, in turn, is greatly affected by whether we feel our work is valued and appreciated. Most employees also want to express and receive appreciation with their coworkers, and have an encouraging work environment and good relationships with their colleagues. Thus, effective expression of appreciation is not just for supervisors and managers, but for any level in the organization.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace summary_why workplace appreciation

In short, organizations are increasingly budget-strapped, and are unable to rely on financial rewards as a key form of encouragement or reward. Appreciation can greatly improve workplace satisfaction without large amounts of financial resources, to:

  • Reduce employee turnover;
  • Improve attendance, productivity and commitment; and
  • Increase customer satisfaction

You can learn more about the languages of appreciation from our complete version of The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace summary.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

Each of us feels appreciated in different ways, i.e. we have different “languages of appreciation”. We also have a primary language and a secondary language of appreciation. We are most deeply fulfilled when we receive appreciation in our primary language. Within each language, people also have different “dialects” that they are more conversant with.

Effective appreciation and recognition must be tailored and delivered personally, and must be relevant and valuable to the individual. Unless we express our appreciation in others’ primary language, we miss the mark and fail to meet their deepest needs for appreciation.

We’ll now briefly introduce the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace. For more details, examples, tips and applications, check out our full 13-page summary. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace summary_The 5 languages of appreciation

Words of Affirmation

This language is about affirming others using written or spoken words, e.g. praise for accomplishments, affirming someone’s character.

Quality Time

Quality Time is about giving someone undivided personal attention, e.g. quality conversations,  shared experiences (e.g. retreats), small group dialogues.

Acts of Service

Acts of Service is about pitching in to help and get things done, though there are nuances to watch for (e.g. asking before helping, finishing what you start), else it may backfire.

Tangible Gifts

Tangible gifts involve offering thoughtful, non-monetary gifts to those who appreciate them (e.g. tickets for a soccer match or a concert).

Physical Touch

Physical Touch is a much less valued (and more sensitive) form of appreciation compared to the other 4 languages, but can be still relevant in the workplace. Our complete summary touches on some areas to look out for, when using this language of appreciation as well as more  details on each of these 5 languages, including examples and tips for application.

Putting the Concepts to Work

The book ends off with many tips on how to put the 5 languages to work. Here’s a synopsis of some of the key ideas:

  • Start by identifying your language(s) of appreciation and those of your colleagues.
  • Know your important appreciation language, which is usually meaningless to you and those of your colleagues’, to avoid using the “wrong” mode of appreciation.
  • Be aware of the shifts in your primary appreciation language over time, context or during critical life events (e.g. loss of a loved one).
  • The book also addresses several challenges that must be overcome for effective workplace appreciation (e.g. busyness, lack of belief, personal discomfort, lack of genuine appreciation for your team members).

Our complete 13-page summary covers these in greater detail.

Getting the Most from The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

The authors also spend an entire chapter addressing how the Motivating by Appreciation model works across different industries and organization-types, including non-profit organizations, financial services, family-owned businesses, schools, ministries/ churches, medical / dental offices etc. The book also includes several additional articles, including how to pick up cues that your colleagues need more appreciation, how to reward volunteers etc. You can get a detailed overview of all these from our  complete book summary bundle, which includes an infographic, a 13-page text summary, and a 26-minute audio summary.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace summary - book summary bundle

At the end of each chapter, the authors included a short list of questions to help you reflect on the points discussed. The MBA Inventory is also promoted heavily in the book, and each book comes with a registration code for an online assessment. For more details, you can get the book here, visit or go to

Check out The 5 Love Languages summary to find out how to converse in the right love language with your loved ones. Or, check out the Nine Lies About Work summary to learn the truth about employee engagement and performance!

About the Authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People is written by Gary D. Chapman & Paul E. White.

Dr Gary Demonte Chapman (born 1938) is an author and relationship counsellor. He is the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc, and also hosts radio programs about marriage and relationships, airing on more than 400 stations. He speaks to thousands of couples through his weekend marriage conferences. He currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church.

Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, author, speaker, trainer and consultant who makes work relationships work. For the past 20 years, he’s improved numerous businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations with workplace improvements. As international speakers on the languages of appreciation, Dr. Chapman’s focuses primarily on marriages, families and the 5 Love Languages, while Dr. White focuses on work-based relationships and the languages of appreciation.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace Quotes

“The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.”

“Turnover among employees is one of the largest controllable costs an organization has.”

“Each of us wants to know that what we are doing matters.”

“Because you have listened to them, they will also listen to you.”

“Thoughtless gifts not only miss the mark but also communicate a negative message.”

“Our complaints reveal our deep emotional hurts.”

“The question is not, ‘Do you appreciate your coworkers or those who work under your  direction?’ The real question is, ‘Do they feel appreciated?’”

Click here to download the full summary and infographic

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