We all like to feel valued at work and know that what we are doing matters. Showing appreciation is a great way to convey this to others. Often, people will be unaware of how to best express appreciation to their colleagues. Here are some simple ways of how you can enhance your connection with the team, even when you can’t physically be in the office.
“Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival; to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”
According to research by Dr Gary Chapman and Dr Paul White in their book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, we all have a primary language of appreciation.
The Five Languages of Appreciation
1. Words of affirmation
- Sometimes, a quick “thank you” in person or by email is sufficient; however, it’s best to be specific and to use the person’s name, e.g.: “Sarah, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you being such an organised person. It’s been especially helpful during this crisis knowing that there is a structure in place.”
- It’s worth remembering that some prefer to be acknowledged in private (in person or via a call/email or a handwritten card), while others like public praise (which could be done from a distance though cc’ing relevant individuals or thanking them on a group video call).
2. Quality time
Here you are spending time with your colleagues and giving them your undivided attention – even just a few minutes during the day to discuss their progress on a project, allow them to vent frustrations or seek advice.
It is possible to spend quality time remotely – and it is important for one’s mental health to do so when physically working away from others.
- Schedule a video call with them, even if it is just to have a quick, non-work related chat to catch-up. Avoid distractions during the call.
- Keep all of the team appraised of relevant matters, particularly when the casual interactions of a shared work environment are not possible.
- Organise a video quiz with the team, or online after-work drinks
- Using the “breakout room” function provided by some video conferencing platforms like Zoom is a great way to split up a larger group, making it easier to have more manageable conversations that everyone can participate in.
- Have a virtual check-in during the day, just as you might stop by their desk to say a quick hello.
3. Acts of service
- One of the main requests in an office is for support with technology, and you may still be able to provide remote assistance to colleagues having technical issues, e.g. helping with video call accessibility.
- Simply ask, “is there anything I can help with?” and reassure them that you can spare the time if you have it.
- Clarify what area they need help in and how to go about the task before starting it.
- Schedule calls at a time of day that works best for them.
4. Tangible gifts
Give a thoughtful gift to a colleague. The material value is not important, only the thought that goes into the gift.
How to give gifts to show appreciation:
- Personalise it – gift them a voucher for their favourite restaurant.
- Keep it simple – arrange for nice coffee beans to be delivered to their door or, if you’re in the office, drop a cup of coffee to their desk.
- Send a “certificate of appreciation” via email or post. There are various templates available online.
5. Physical touch
- A firm handshake, a high-five to celebrate a win or an appropriate hug.
- It is clearly impossible to handshake when social distancing. Virtual high-fives through screens or using appropriate emojis can get the same message of respect, appreciation, support and encouragement across to team members.
Determining your colleagues’ appreciation language
- Observe how they show appreciation to others. Often how a person expresses appreciation reflects their preferred way of receiving it; and
- Listen to their main concerns, complaints and requests, which can provide clues as to what feedback or assistance they require.
Contributing to others’ wellbeing