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Words of Affirmation in the Workplace

Words of Affirmation in the Workplace Blog Image

Using words of affirmation in the workplace shows employees you appreciate them. This love language is especially useful for performance reviews. Learn why!

The Words of Affirmation Love Language

Keeping employees happy and satisfied is a goal of many HR managers. But this can be challenging during holidays like Valentine’s Day, which brings about mixed emotions for workers. So, why not encourage employees during these times using words of affirmation in the workplace? This article is part one of a series where we will look at the five love languages 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 five love languages and applied it to their personal and professional relationships. Here is a visual representation of the five love languages at work.

Acts of Service

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

Receiving Gifts

Someone who identifies with this love language feels appreciated when you give them a gift.

Quality Time

This type of person feels loved when you offer them moments of undivided attention.

Words of Affirmation

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

Physical Touch

People who identify with this love language feel loved when you are physically nearby in an individual or group setting.

Words of Affirmation Love Languages

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 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 effectively.

Redefine Performance Reviews to be More Meaningful

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:

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 various 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 benefits employees.

Use Performance Reviews to Show Workplace Affirmation

So what does it mean to apply Words of Affirmation to performance reviews themselves? While effective 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 frequently and holding employees accountable for reaching their goals.

Here’s how to structure 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 to praise employees 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.

Thumbs Up

Be Transparent in a Positive Way

It can be hard to talk to an employee about a poorly executed project, but if you brush up on your communication skills, you’ll find this process doesn’t have to be overrun with negative thoughts and feelings.

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. They should be a time 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 in time and training efforts. 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 positive affirmations for work from We think these are some of the best examples of words of affirmation in the workplace:

  • “Sally displays a cooperative spirit by performing (specific tasks) that 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 performance review phrases, 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 that you care enough to pay attention to their work details.

Applying appreciating language in the workplace can ultimately help you become a more communicative manager, and employees reach their career goals quickly. Furthermore, you can use these statements 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 contributes to job satisfaction. 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 contribute to the company’s success. These initiatives provide a positive work experience, drive retention rates, and even boost recruiting efforts.

We Take Care of Our Customers

APS earned the 2021 Tech Cares award because we provide a positive work culture. Because we take care of our employees, our customers benefit!

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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