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1.6 million workers feel that they have never been shown appreciation at work, according to a new study. 

Surveying 2,000 UK adults, online printing specialists instantprint, looked to uncover the most common love languages, and how these translate into our professional lives. 

The theory of ‘Love Languages’ has been sweeping social media by storm, with the topic boasting nearly 250 million views on Tik Tok alone. Based on a concept by Gary Chapman, love languages are commonly used to describe how we prefer to show and receive love in our personal relationships, but how do our love languages play out in our professional relationships at work? 

Of those surveyed, over half (53%) could identify their love language, with a third of them (33%) stating that quality time was their top way of showing and receiving love. Physical touch was the second most popular love language (28%) followed by words of affirmation (18%). 

Acts of service and receiving gifts were the rarest forms of love language, securing 15% and 6% of the vote respectively. 

Men were found to be considerably more inclined towards physical touch than women (18% vs just 12%), whereas women were more likely to choose quality time (19%) than men (16%). 

Top 5 Ways Employees Want to Be Appreciated at Work 

To test whether our love languages align with how we want to be appreciated at work, instantprint assigned common ways of showing appreciation to a love language and then asked UK office workers what makes them feel the most appreciated at work. 

Act of appreciation  Attributed love language  % of workers who prefer this 
Private praise for a good job  Words of affirmation  51% 
A pay rise  Receiving gifts  48% 
Public praise for a good job  Words of affirmation  32% 
Receiving prizes, incentives or bonuses  Receiving gifts  30% 
Consistent, prompt feedback  Acts of service  29% 

Despite words of affirmation only ranking third when it came to the nation’s top love languages, they score highly in a work environment. This act of appreciation was unanimously voted as office workers’ preferred way to build professional relationships and feel appreciated at work, with private praise for a good job coming out on top with over half (51%) of employees rating this act highly. Over a third (32%) also said they appreciate public praise for a job well done.  

When it comes to receiving gifts, only 6% of us claim this as our love language. However, pay rises (48%), bonuses and promotions (30%) rank extremely highly when it comes to our professional lives.  

Although physical touch is a firm favourite way to show and receive love outside of work, in the office, this love language might be best avoided – just 14% want to get close and personal when working together, and only 13% would like to receive a handshake to show appreciation.  

Men are more likely to want to receive a handshake or pat on the back at work for a job well done (15%) than women (12%). When it comes to feeling appreciated, women would prefer more autonomy over their working day (25% vs 18% of men) and getting time to chat with co-workers (29% vs 21% of men). 

Top 5 Ways Employees Are Actually Being Appreciated 

In addition to sharing how they prefer to be appreciated, survey respondents were also asked how they are usually shown appreciation at work, finding that words of affirmation are the most common choice for employers. 

Act of appreciation  Attributed love language  % of workers who’ve received this act 
Private praise for a good job  Words of affirmation  44% 
Public praise for a good job  Words of affirmation  23% 
Consistent, prompt feedback  Acts of service  19% 
Getting time to chat with co-workers  Quality time  17% 
A pay rise  Receiving gifts  16% 

Private praise for a good job (44%) and public praise (23%) were found to be the most used way for employers to show their appreciation, with them placing first and second on the list.  

However, this shows that despite over half (51%) of workers favouring this type of praise from their boss, 56% have not ever been praised privately for their efforts at work. 

Although receiving gifts was the second most popular way to receive appreciation according to employees, employers aren’t as likely to give them out, with only 12% of workers being given new opportunities. Just one in ten (10%) have been given more control over their working day, and 8% have received a promotion. 

When asked, 5% of employees actually confessed that they had never been shown any appreciation at work, translating to 1.6 million workers across the UK feeling this way. 

Laura Mucklow, Head of instantprint, commented on the findings: “Although the theory of love language might not always translate to office relationships, words of affirmation go a long way to building relationships, whether personal or professional.  

“Get to know your team’s ‘office love language’ and make sure you’re showing appreciation for their hard work – it could be the reinforcement you need to ensure you’re keeping the best staff engaged and employed with your business!” 

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