February, 2021

Words of Affirmation in the Workplace

The Words of Affirmation Love Language

Valentine’s Day is all about showing that special someone how much you love them and what they mean to you. But what about offering employees a little love using words of affirmation in the workplace? In this blog series, we’re going to look at the five love language concepts and how you can incorporate them at work.

We will begin this series by focusing on one of the five love languages, Words of Affirmation. From there, we’ll discuss the link between words of affirmation and workplace appreciation. We’ll also highlight how you can show employees workplace appreciation through a redefined performance review process.

What is a Love Language?

Dr. Gary Chapman is the bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, which discusses love languages as ways to express and experience love and appreciation. People worldwide have taken his concept of the 5 love languages and have applied them to their personal and professional relationships. Here is a visual representation of the five love languages at work.

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Acts of Service

When this is someone’s primary love language, they feel loved and appreciated when someone does something nice for them.

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Receiving Gifts

For someone who identifies with this love language, they feel appreciated when someone gives them a gift.

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Quality Time

This type of person feels loved when someone gives another person their undivided attention.

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Words of Affirmation

A person with this love language feels loved when someone expresses affection for them through appreciation, praise, or spoken words.

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Physical Touch

People who identify with this love language feel loved when they are close to someone physically.

What’s Your Love Language?

Find out by taking the love language quiz.

Words of Affirmation For Work

Now that you know what a love language is, it’s time to talk about words of affirmation for employees. Staff wants to hear from their managers that they are doing a great job and that their work matters. When dedication is recognized and validated, it results in more productive and satisfied employees. This concept is why performance reviews can be so impactful in the workplace.

Performance appraisals are a great way to affirm an employee’s contributions while also holding an employee accountable to set goals. Understanding words of affirmation and applying them to your performance reviews is the key to better understanding your employees and communicating with them effectively.

Redefine Performance Reviews, So They Mean Something

Performance reviews are nothing new to the business world, yet some companies argue they have little impact on employees. You might even find that your performance review process looks something like this:

The review is held at the end of the year;
Employees rate their performance on a scale of some sort;
Their manager jots down some notes on the performance review;
From the review, areas of improvement are identified and goals for the new year are set.

Then the performance review is signed, placed in a file, and never looked at again.

Does this sound familiar? This process happens in multiple organizations across industries. The problem with this scenario is that it leads to employees and managers not taking performance reviews seriously. The good news is just because your company’s performance review process isn’t living up to its potential right now, that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the process entirely.

One solution to this drab performance review cycle is to redefine your company’s performance review and incorporate words of affirmation into your review process. Positive affirmations will give you assessments that better align with your business needs and are also beneficial to employees.

Use Performance Reviews to Show Workplace Affirmation

So what does it mean to apply Words of Affirmation to performance reviews themselves? While performance reviews can be difficult, there is a way to create a positive experience using the Words of Affirmation love language. Companies need to be more proactive about conducting reviews more frequently and holding employees accountable for reaching their goals.

Here’s how to setup up your company’s performance review process using words of affirmation:

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Provide Regular Feedback

Although managers may prefer annual performance reviews, providing regular positive feedback is the key to letting your employees know they are producing quality work. Consider implementing a monthly appreciation meeting where you give employees praise for current projects.

You can also block out time on your calendar to meet with employees in a virtual or in-person one-on-one setting. Encourage them, and ask if there is anything you can do to help them succeed. This concept reinforces your commitment to your employees and keeps your staff motivated throughout the year

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Be Transparent in a Positive Way

It can be hard to talk to an employee about a poorly executed project, but it doesn’t need to be communicated negatively. One rule of thumb to remember when having this type of conversation is to follow the pro-con-pro approach. Be transparent about missed opportunities in a professional, constructive way. Employees should know you are discussing missed opportunities as a guide to help them to become more successful in the future.

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Set Goals

Performance reviews aren’t just an evaluation of an employee’s performance, but they should be a time that is set aside for managers to set goals for an employee’s future success. Setting goals with your employees shows you recognize their dedication and believe they are worth investing time and training. A good rule of thumb for goal setting is to follow the SMART approach:

S - Make sure the goal is specific
M- You want data to measure the success of your goal
A- Goals should be attainable
R- Though you want to strive upward, goals should still be realistic
T- Make sure the goal can be completed in a timely manner

Performance Review Language Examples

Now that you know regular performance reviews are essential for employee engagement, how do you navigate employee performance review language? It’s vital to use positive words for performance reviews and avoid a negative tone. Here’s a list of performance review phrases from Indeed.com. We think these are some of the best examples of words of affirmation in the workplace:

  • “Sally displays a cooperative spirit by performing xx task to contribute to xx project.”
  • “Dylan sets well-thought-out goals and continuously strives to achieve them.”
  • “Danielle contributes to the overall performance of the company through consistent and high-quality work like___ and ____.”
  • “John takes ownership in the company’s success and accepts responsibility for oneself and contribution as a team member.”
  • “Heather quickly adapts to changes in the performance of required duties.”
  • “Michael applies creative thinking to implement a vision for the company.”
  • “Paul continuously suggests new ideas in meetings and on projects.”

As you can see from these examples of the words of affirmation love language, each statement has several things in common. They each discuss a positive accomplishment or step an employee has taken to better themselves, their team, or their workplace. Providing metrics to back up the statement is a bonus because it shows an employee you care enough to pay attention to their work details.

Furthermore, you can use these statements as sample language for employee performance reviews and to encourage words of affirmation for coworkers. It’s equally important for employees to receive positive feedback from their colleagues.

Want To Nurture Your Employees?

According to an article by Clear Company, 76% of employees want opportunities for career growth. Furthermore, 87% of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are significant. While positive feedback is essential, words of affirmation must go beyond mere verbal praise.

Employees aren’t just looking for verbal recognition; they want career nurturing and development. Workers must know they are a value-added resource and are contributing to the success of the company. These initiatives provide a positive work experience for employees, drive retention rates, and even boost recruiting efforts.

Read More on the Ways to Provide a Positive Workforce Culture.

Talking the Talk With WorKPLACE Affirmation

As you can see, love languages are an integral part of employee recognition within the workplace. More specifically, words of affirmation in the form of positive performance reviews encourage employees to do their best continually.

With better visibility into how employees meet their goals, management can make more informed decisions about raises, bonuses, employee incentives, training, and even recruiting and hiring. When you speak the language of proactive and meaningful performance reviews, you end up with happy employees. And when you have happy employees, you’re speaking their love language.

To read more about the love languages and how to incorporate them into the workplace, check out our other articles:

  • Physical Touch: We discuss appropriate methods to incorporate physical touch to promote a positive workplace culture without employees feeling uncomfortable.
  • Receiving Gifts: The act of recognizing employees through compensation, whether through incentivized bonuses or PTO packages, can show employees appreciation in the workplace.
  • Acts of Service: Providing benefits to employees can motivate your workforce and show employees the value they provide to your organization. 
  • Quality Time: Learn how communication in the workplace between managers and employees boosts engagement and productivity.

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