Is appreciation in the workplace changing? Yes and no

Communicating appreciation has changed due to cultural influences. But no, the foundational aspects of appreciation haven’t changed.

Is appreciation in the workplace changing? Is it the same as it was 5 years ago? 10 years ago? Does the way we communicate appreciation change over time?

Yes, it does. But, in many ways, no it doesn’t.

Last week, a new revised and updated version of The 5 Language of Appreciation in the Workplace was released. The first edition was published in 2011 and some may think, ok, that’s great for those who haven’t read it already, but the topic couldn’t have really changed that much.

I would ‘beg to differ,’ as they say in my part of the country. A lot has changed in the area of communicating appreciation over the past 5-10 years. And we continue to learn more and more about how to communicate appreciation effectively as we work with thousands of companies and organizations. Changes are occurring but, over time, we’ve also had opportunities to better understand the issues related to authentic appreciation from the groups whom we have served.

Overall, the culture in which we live and work has changed, in many ways, dramatically. Economic conditions are different than they were in previous years. And our daily work cultures have changed as well.

Think about the following issues and how they impact relationships in the workplace:

  • The shift from high unemployment and personal economic uncertainty to lower unemployment and difficulty finding enough qualified employees to get the work done
  • The natural changes that occur as one generation in the workplace (Boomers) start their gradual exit from the workplace and an influx of the next generations (Millennials and Gen Z) begins
  • Movement from traditional, hierarchical, top down structures to an emphasis on more collegial, team-based ways of working and interacting
  • The extreme amount of attention now focused on toxic workplaces, bully bosses, and cultures
  • The impact of discovering widespread sexual harassment and misconduct that had been covered up or ignored for years
  • The dramatic increase in the number of remote employees

All of these changes impact how we communicate authentic appreciation effectively.

These are the issues that I’ve addressed in the updated edition of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – with new chapters on the importance of peer appreciation, appreciation and remote employees, and how generations differ in the ways they want to be shown appreciation.

Finally, the chapter on ‘The Business Case for Appreciation’ has been totally redone and considerably expanded – with over 50 research studies cited by organizations such as Gallup, Towers Perrin, the Boston Consulting Group, the McKinsey Group, and others. The new research documents the overwhelming evidence that shows appreciation contributes to greater productivity, increased profitability, and greater employee retention, even drilling down to such specifics as lower employee theft and fewer employee on-the-job-accidents.

Is appreciation in the workplace changing? Yes. Communicating appreciation has changed due to cultural influences. But no, the foundational aspects of appreciation (the need to communicate regularly, in ways meaningful to the recipient, and authentically) haven’t changed.

And to answer the implied question — yes, getting a copy of the new, updated book would be extremely worthwhile and beneficial to your understanding of appreciation in today’s workplace.

This article first appeared on AppreciationAtWork.

Paul White|is a psychologist, speaker, consultant, and the author of The Vibrant Workplace, co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace and The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.