To read this content please select one of the options below:

How preferences for types of appreciation differ across employee age groups

Paul White (Appreciation at Work, Wichita, Kansas, USA)
Gene George (Appreciation at Work, Wichita, Kansas, USA)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 17 December 2021

Issue publication date: 4 February 2022




Organizational leaders and human resource professionals affirm that to have (and keep) an effective workforce, understanding one’s employees is critical. Thus, understanding the differences between employees of different age groups is important. Simultaneously, studies have demonstrated the significant positive impact appreciation has on the functioning of organizations. When team members feel truly valued, numerous positive benefits result, including lower staff turnover, less absenteeism, higher customer ratings and greater profitability.


Because individuals prefer to be shown appreciation in different ways and prior research has shown some age differences, this study examined how appreciation preferences differ across seven employee age groups. Over 190,000 individuals completed an online assessment based on the five languages of appreciation, which identifies employees’ preferred ways of receiving appreciation. The respondents were separated into seven age groups, from 19 years old and younger to 70 years old and above.


The results of an analysis of variance found that there were significant differences across groups. Although the patterns of preferences were largely the same across many groups, post hoc analyses found both the youngest and oldest age groups differed from employees in their 30s with regards to their desire for quality time. Additionally, older employees were extremely low in their desire for tangible gifts.


As the proportion of employees shifts from older to younger groups of employees, these results raise important implications for organizations’ approaches regarding how appreciation and other motivators should be adjusted for different groups of employees.



White, P. and George, G. (2022), "How preferences for types of appreciation differ across employee age groups", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 25-30.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles