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Differences in preferences for appreciation across various work settings

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

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 7 December 2022

Issue publication date: 28 February 2023




Previous research has documented the distribution of preferences of various appreciation languages by employees in general work settings. This paper aims to explore if employee preferences for appreciation vary across different types of workplace settings.


The Motivating By Appreciation Inventory assesses individuals’ preferred ways of receiving appreciation from their workplace colleagues, determining each person’s primary language of appreciation in one of four appreciation languages. Results for 114,827 individuals were examined across the general workforce and in six work settings (government agencies, medical settings, military personnel, nonprofit organizations, remote employees and schools).


Preferences within four work settings (government, nonprofits, remote, schools) were consistent with those from general work settings. But employees in medical settings and in the military choose Acts of Service more frequently than other employees. Quality Time is more valued by school and remote employees. Tangible Gifts are chosen at lower rates by government employees and military personnel.

Research limitations/implications

The subjects are all English-speaking and predominately in the USA. The results may not be generalizable to other cultures and language speakers.

Practical implications

Human resource professionals should be aware that employees in different types of workplaces vary in their appreciation preferences. Adjusting appreciation programs and practices should mirror these differences.


To the best of the author’s knowledge, this research is the first known to document differences in preferences for appreciation across various types of workplaces.



White, P. (2023), "Differences in preferences for appreciation across various work settings", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 17-21.



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