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Specific acts of appreciation valued by employees

Natalie Hamrick (Appreciation at Work, Wichita, Kansas, USA)
Paul White (Appreciation at Work, Wichita, Kansas, USA)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 24 April 2020

Issue publication date: 22 July 2020




Although managers agree that showing appreciation to their employees is important, many do not know how to do so effectively. Languages of Appreciation have been identified that uniquely convey that the recipient is valued when appreciation is expressed in the “language” they prefer. Moreover, a wide range of specific actions can be effective within a given appreciation language. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify the top ten action items within each language of appreciation to discover the actions preferred most frequently by employees.


Of the over 200,000 individuals who have completed the Motivating by Appreciation Inventory, approximately 1% of respondents were randomly selected to represent each primary language (Words of Affirmation N = 1,000, Acts of Service N = 500, Quality Time N = 500 and Tangible Gifts N = 300). Respondents’ action item preferences were then tallied.


Numerous themes were identified, along with the most desired acts of appreciation within each language: Words of Affirmation: acknowledge when I have handled a difficult situation well; Acts of Service: offer to do some menial tasks that will allow me to focus on higher priorities for me; Quality Time: go to lunch together and not talk about business issues; and Tangible Gifts: gift cards (visa gift card or to favorite store/restaurant).


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to report on the specific actions most desired by employees within their preferred appreciation languages. The results can help inform actions that are most likely to be successful in showing appreciation to colleagues in the workplace.



Hamrick, N. and White, P. (2020), "Specific acts of appreciation valued by employees", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 163-169.



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