HR & business leaders

Translating Love Languages for More Authentic Workplaces

I’ve written many HR articles in my day, and to be honest, a lot of it is teaching you to suck eggs. Even when I’ve reached out to HR leaders—those at the peak of their game—I rarely hear something new. It’s mostly: build diverse teams, create inclusive cultures, collect feedback…

But, honestly, there’s not much newness out there in HR. Since the pandemic and the shift to remote work, it’s mostly the same stuff. Mental well-being, remote work, and more flexibility have been the biggest changes in recent years. They’ve meant we’ve had to shift workplace communication, employee engagement strategies, and overall workforce management styles. So, what’s next?

Well, with Gen Z slipping into the workplace quicker than the gray hairs sprouting on my head, we’ve got change encroaching on the horizon, and it’s coming in with heart.

Gen Zers are looking for business owners and CEOs to lead honestly, openly, and cut through the fabricated noise. They want authentic leadership and management that leads from the heart. It’s a new level of emotional intelligence that goes way beyond the typical interpersonal relationships we’re used to in the workplace, and I’ve seen it rising stronger than ever in my content marketing agency.

It got me thinking: what’s more heart-led than the language of love?‚—or the five love languages as we know them?

If you’re from my generation, you’ve probably taken a Buzzfeed quiz and know your love language by now. If not, here’s a quick recap on the infamous love languages that dictate most peoples’ relationships:

Love language #1: Words of affirmation: you value your partner affirming their love for you. You need verbal reassurance to confirm that everything is okay and you remain loved.

Love language #2: Acts of service: you like to give or receive acts of service. This can be something as small as cooking dinner or holding the door open for your partner. Or, it can be something grander to showcase love.

Love language #3: Gifts: people are quick to dump this one on shallow relationships; however, it’s just another love language for how you show or want to be shown by someone that your connection is strong and thriving. Gifts don’t have to be huge; it’s the thought that counts!

Love language #4: Quality time: one close to my heart. Quality time means you need to spend 1-1 time with your partner to affirm your relationship, things like date nights or time together outside of your friendship groups.

Love language #5: Physical touch: another one I resonate with. Physical touch can do so much to affirm that someone loves you or help you express your love for someone else when words fail you—big hugs!

Got that down? You’ll probably find one or two that resonate with you.

But, it’s not just our personal relationships that talk in these languages; it’s our working relationships too. So, in this article, I’ll cover how you can understand and better implement love languages in the workplace to build teams that lead with heart.

Ready to get uncomfortable?

How to translate the five love languages in the workplace

So, how do these appeal in the workplace? Surely, they’re just for personal relationships, right? Wrong.

I’ve found that, as a leader, when you understand your love languages, you can identify your need for them and determine if your workforce is not delivering on your needs or not delivering full stop—it’s been a humbling experience when managing my B2B content agency.

I’ve also found that understanding your team’s love languages will help you build better workplace cultures and environments that people can enjoy being in, as they enable you to answer your team’s unique needs better. It’s a people management tactic that I believe makes sense.

So, let’s explore the five love languages of the workplace, what they look like, and how you can better facilitate each one.

Love language #1: Words of affirmation

Feedback and effective communication! Identify which of your employees need feedback, and more importantly, positive feedback, and then ensure you’re providing it!

I come from London agency corporate culture where the only feedback I ever really got was negative. Although I definitely don’t live that experience for my team, I know I often forget to look for positive feedback because, in my head, no news is good news.

Words of affirmation are also a great way for you to handle conflict resolution. If you see a problem emerging with your team or someone in particular, don’t get stuck on what they’re doing wrong, focus on what they’re doing right and 10x it.

So, identify which of your team members need positive feedback to stay inspired and continue delivering great work. Then, deliver on that and ensure you give compliments where they’re due. At dslx, we run SEO strategy for SaaS companies, and I know we wouldn’t be half the agency we are today without the passionate team behind our work—they deserve to have their talent and passion appreciated.  

Love language #2: Acts of service

Are you walking the walk and talking the talk? It’s SO easy for a leader to say: “we’re going to do XYZ,” or “we’re going to implement this next quarter.” But are you following up on your word? Or, are you failing to let your actions speak for your intent?

It can be frustrating for your workforce to hear empty promises you’re not delivering on. You’ll soon lose the trust and respect of your team.

The evolution of this love language is to plan acts of service to show how grateful you are for your team, and that you value and respect them.

These acts of service can be anything your operational structure and budget allow, but put time and thought into it to show your workforce that you genuinely care. I guarantee it’ll boost your employee satisfaction rates.  

Love language #3: Gifts

The simple one, right? Wrong! Gifts come in every shape and size, and there is always a gift for businesses with a tight budget too.

For example, nothing says you value a team member more than gifting them their time back. Many businesses are exploring the benefits of the four-day working week, which profoundly affects staff productivity and overall happiness—who can blame them? If your company can gift time and still achieve great work, what’s stopping you?

If you’re going for the physical side of this love language and want to give physical gifts, then think about how you can translate them into gifts that benefit your workforce and their personal and professional development.

Maybe it’s new work equipment? Perhaps it’s well-being benefits, perhaps it’s a bonus at Christmas time? A lot of these benefits are essentially gifts; it’s how you package them up and send them on their way that makes all the difference.

What gifts are you giving your workforce at the moment? Here’s what we’ve got going at dslx right now:

  • Home Office Budget
  • Coworking Budget
  • Paid Leave
  • Referral Commissions
  • Holiday Budget
  • Wellbeing budget
  • Mental Health Days
  • Paid Volunteering Time Off
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Company Retreats
  • Personal Development budget
  • Personal Development time off
  • Birthdays
  • Public to Private holidays

Some of these cost dslx direct money, and some of them don’t. Figure out what your business can afford in terms of time and budget and get gifting!

Love language #4: Quality time

Oh so, so, important in the hybrid world we now live in. Quality time. We’ve created all of these fantastic tools that enable us to save time by ditching the meetings. However, many people value that time we have together. Especially for remote workers, 67% say they feel disconnected from their in-office teams—quality time has never been more important.

The trick is you need to make time for quality time. So, think twice before you create that Loom video in replacement for that meeting. Think again before you send that Slack summary rather than jumping in a huddle. And, maybe even consider formalizing pre-meeting chit-chat, time to connect before you dive straight into business on calls.

It takes three minutes to say hello and catch up, those three minutes aren’t going to do your meeting any harm, and they are going to do someone’s well-being a world of good. Ensure you’re threading it into your organizational behavior.

In short, make time for quality time, and ensure you’re spending it wisely when you do sync up with colleagues.

Love language #5: Physical touch

Last but not least, we’ve got physical touch. The world as we knew it was flipped on its head during the pandemic. For most, we got extremely comfortable on our own. However, that’s not to say most don’t miss the physical, in-real-life experiences we used to have.

At dslx, we write for a couple of TravelTech brands, and it’s so fantastic to see the data on real-life events soaring again. We’ve got a couple of years to make up for, and team-building events in real life will always beat an online event; no matter how great our tech gets or how immersive the metaverse gets, it will not be a replacement for true human interaction.

I know this could potentially be the most costly of love languages to bring to fruition, especially when you’ve got employees across continents. However, it is well worth the effort if it’s not going to break the bank.

Time to ask your team what language they speak

That’s your lot! Now, go and figure out what language your team speaks. Are they looking for gifts to feel appreciated and looked after? Or, do they expect greater acts of service from leadership or their managers? Perhaps it’s a mix.

I can tell you, understanding what love languages your team speaks will help you to build more comfortable, transparent, and authentic workplaces where people truly feel heard and cared for. And, you know why? Because it’s actually happening.
- Ray

I am the text that will be copied.