Dr. Paul White

Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, author, speaker and consultant. He is the coauthor of three books, including “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” written with Dr. Gary Chapman, who wrote the relationship book, “The Five Love Languages.” The book offers ways for organizations to improve staff morale, increase employee engagement and enhance trust. As a father of four adult children, White has been married for more than 30 years.

Why is appreciation in the workplace essential?

Since 2012, numerous Fortune 500 companies and more than 725 universities have applied the principles found in “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” Government agencies, hospitals, churches, public schools and police departments also use the principles.

According to White, 70% of employees feel they receive no praise or recognition at their jobs. While many organizations have implemented job recognition, job satisfaction hasn’t increased.

“We found when team members feel truly appreciated, a lot of good things happen,” White added. “Turnover and absenteeism decrease, productivity and profitability increase and customer satisfaction ratings go up. More importantly, managers report liking their job more when their team feels valued.”

What are the original five love languages?

The five love languages from Chapman’s book are words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. People receive and give love in different ways.

How can someone implement the five languages of appreciation at work?

White wanted to apply the five love languages to business. Around 200,000 people have taken his online assessment, and White paints a practical picture for what the workplace looks like in an atmosphere of appreciation.

1. Words of affirmation: Both oral and written, whether a note or email. Be “specific” about what someone has done and why it’s important to you.

2. Quality time: Interested in listening to someone or doing things together.

“A lot of men like to build relationships shoulder to shoulder, so we watch sports, go fishing or whatever and talk while we’re doing it,” White said. “Most women like the one-on-one, face-to-face, no distraction interaction.”

3. Acts of service: Doing something that helps your colleague’s day go a little easier, such as helping them out on projects, taking incoming calls, bringing them lunch or keeping interruptions away.

4. Gifts: Take time to notice your coworker’s interests or food they may enjoy. A gift is a personal token of thankfulness letting the other person know you’re thinking of them.

5. Physical touch: This includes celebratory high-fives, a pat on the back when you did a good job, a fist bump after solving a problem or a handshake after a sale or a promotion.

“We decided to keep it in the model because we didn’t want to advocate a touchless society in the workplace. Appropriate physical touch in a healthy relationship can be very meaningful,” White added.

How have employees and bosses become disconnected?

“In a secularization of society, taking God out, there’s been an increased focus just on productivity and profitability,” White said. “When that happens, employees essentially become resources to reach your goal. They’re treated like machines and less like people.”

White said authentic appreciation isn’t the same as employee recognition.

“Appreciation attributes it to a person’s worth,” White added. “As Christians made in God’s image, we have the understanding we all have value. Most bosses think people want more money, which is true, but more money isn’t a good long-term satisfier.”

But some people are just difficult.

“There are people that are more difficult to appreciate than others, and you may not understand them or you may have very different personalities,” he said.

White offered two ways to deal with difficult people.

1. Get to know what they do in their role or department.

2. Get to know who they are as a person. “When we spend time with someone, you usually find some kind of touchstone where your lives overlap, and you are better able to understand their perspective,” White said.