Are you a words of affirmation type of person? All about those acts of service? Is quality time your thing?
If you immediately know what we’re on about, you’re likely already versed in the world of love languages – the way we prefer to give and receive love in our relationships.
But this approach doesn’t just apply to our romantic bonds. Some people believe that you can have a work love language, too.
What is a work love language, you might ask?
It’s essentially your working style – and what you need to feel happy and appreciated in the world of work.
Dr Gary Chapman, the author of the original five love languages book that has been riffed on across internet quizzes and TikTok videos, has created a version for workplaces, and he believes that there are five work love languages: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, tangible gifts, and appropriate physical touch.
We don’t want to slam Dr Gary, but we’re not sure what physical touch would be appropriate in the workplace, so we’ve swapped that language out for money – the idea being that some of us are more driven by tangible, ‘physical’ things over, say, being told how great you are.
Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor, reckons understanding these love languages can be key to ensure your happiness at work and make sure you’re making the right career decisions.
She also notes that bosses and managers should get to know these, too, if they want to keep employees around.
‘When employees are satisfied, they are more likely to remain in position – and a crucial weapon to fight to chronic labour shortages all industries are currently experiencing,’ Jill tells Metro.co.uk.
‘But with employee work styles often individual, it’s key for leaders to understand how their reports like to be managed.
‘Our natural default in the workplace is to treat others how you would like to be treated ourselves. But recognising that co-workers, direct reports or managers might have different styles is critical if you want to work in harmony.’
So, without further ado, let’s break down the work love languages – and see which one resonates with you.
Words of affirmation
Jill explains: ‘You’ve worked hard on a project, collaborated well with others and hit target. Your boss says “great job!” but you’re left deflated. If this sounds like you, then you will thrive with words of affirmation.
‘With this style, you want to know exactly what people thought of your work and for your manager to be specific with their praise, or critique.
‘Vague statements won’t wash – instead, you want to hear what you are being praised for, have the skills you used recognised and understand the impact it made on the company.
‘For managers, it’s good to remember that well-structured praise should also be timely and appropriate and can come in many forms, whether a short slack, longer email, in-person, or as part of a team meeting.’
Gifts and perks
Free breakfasts in the office? A bottle of bubbly on your desk after a project well done? A round of drinks bought at the bar?
If your work love language is gifts, it’s these little things that go a long way to making you feel appreciated.
Look for companies that really prioritise working culture and ask about perks when interviewing – it might seem silly to care about these things, but if this is your love language, a present at Christmas or snacks on demand really do mean a lot.
Just make sure you don’t accept a few measly cereal bars in place of fair pay and proper treatment.
If you’re a quality time person, you might have struggled with the shift to working from home in the pandemic.
For you, it’s all about that face-to-face interaction, plenty of meetings, and feeling like you’re really tuned into what’s happening in your workplace.
You’ll hate feeling rushed, and really appreciate it when your boss takes the time to chat through your ideas.
‘If this is you, ask your manager for a regular one-to-one where you won’t be distracted,’ suggests Jill.
Common work styles
Along with the work love languages, it’s worth getting to know your working ‘style’. Paul Farrer, founder and chairman of Aspire, explains four common types:
Creative or ideas orientated
These are ‘people who conceptualise are creative and generate new ideas’, says Paul. ‘They are innovators who seek solutions to every problem.
‘They can get easily bored, not see ideas through and can lack attention to detail as it bores them.
‘They like the big picture.’
Paul describes this type as: ‘A great partner for the creative thinker, the detail-orientated individual offers a sense of order and pragmatism, approaching challenges thoughtfully.
‘They can get frustrated with a bombardment of ideas when still working through the last great new idea.’
‘Less detail-orientated, a logical worker analyses the challenge and applies a lot of focus towards the goal and getting things done,’ Paul explains. ‘They are efficient and effective.’
Are you a people person? This might be your working style.
Paul says: ‘The relationship-builder values collaboration and is sensitive to others. They make good team leaders, as they facilitate communications.’
Act of service
Actions speak louder than words, right?
If you’re an acts of service type of person, you’ll massively appreciate it when your boss shifts around your workload, delegates when needed, and creates an environment in which you can focus and do your best work – whether that’s allowing you to work from home more often, getting rid of unnecessary meetings, or recognising when you’ve got too much on and taking stuff of your plate.
‘With negative mentions of burnout in employee reviews up 48% in the last year on Glassdoor, it’s no surprise that workers are looking to their manager for action rather than words,’ says Jill.
‘The physicality of doing “something” shows the employee that you value them and appreciate the contribution they are making to the company.’
The easiest work love language to understand: you’re all about the money. A salary bump, a job offer with a massive pay packet, a bonus at the end of the year, all that stuff drives you.
You’re not going to be happy in a job where you know you’re being underpaid, and your career plans see your salary at an incline.
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