The 5 Love Languages of Your Learners

As a self-confessed romantic I happen to love Valentine’s Day. As we approach this year’s Valentine’s Day I wanted to share a story that got me thinking about how organisations and leaders can use digital tools to ‘show the love’ to their employees.

Identify Your Learners’ Needs

My story begins in true Melburnian style: I was eating brunch near the beach with a friend. While the meal itself wasn’t noteworthy, the topic of discussion was. My friend, the same friend who had frequently mentioned all the ‘perks’ of her company, had left the job. As I was under the impression the company was a great place to work, I was really surprised. When I expressed my shock, she explained that one of the main reasons she left was lack of feedback and support from her manager.

To help me understand her decision, she drew an analogy from ‘The 5 Love Languages’ and exclaimed that she had a different ‘love language’ than the organisation.

Having never heard of ‘The 5 Love Languages’ she explained that it’s a theory devised by Dr. Gary Chapman. Whilst the concept of 5 love languages focuses on romantic relationships, I could immediately see the parallels she was making to the workplace. The 5 love languages are:



Words of Affirmation
This language uses words to affirm other people.





Acts of Service
For these people, actions speak louder than words.





Receiving Gifts
For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.



Quality Time
This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.




Physical Wellbeing
To this person, nothing speaks more clearly than being physically ready to work*.



In my friend’s case her employers believed that ‘Receiving Gifts’ was the love language of the employees, and whilst these were appreciated, employees weren’t motivated by them. My friend’s love languages were ‘Words of Affirmation’ and ‘Quality Time’—basically she was asking for feedback from her leaders and peers, and she was also looking to spend quality time with her leaders. She mentioned that after her initial ‘onboarding’ period it was very difficult to get time with her manager and that training was virtually non-existent, which was also something that was important to her.

According to research by LinkedIn over 74,000 Australian and New Zealanders moved jobs in January 2015—and not for reasons you might think. Only 34% of those moved for better compensation and benefits, whereas 36% were not satisfied with the workplace culture[1].

How to Win Over Your Learners

Even in today’s global organisations there are ways in which you can build a great culture and help to reduce the employee churn by using digital tools to offer performance support and feedback to employees.

  1. Don’t stop paying attention after the initial onboarding
    A great onboarding blend is effective, but once the honeymoon period has ended, don’t forget that your employees still want to advance their careers, and to do that, they need to keep training. Recommend learning for your team through your LMS so that it meets with both their organisation and personal KPIs.

  2. Give employees a voice
    Social collaboration tools are great for enabling employees to feel like they are contributing to the organisation. Tools like Totara Social, Yammer or MangoApps gives employees the ability to write a post about something they are passionate about and to collaborate with their peers. Employees are the ones who will drive your culture so give them the tools to do so.

  3. Recognise achievement
    Give a shout to your team through a blog or internal communications message. You could also think about using Open Badges as a way of recognising their contribution.

If you’re a leader in your organisation, perhaps think about the different ‘love languages’ of your team – do they prefer the perks or are they more motivated by words of affirmation and support? If you’re unsure ask them yourselves or use our consultancy service. Use digital tools to your advantage to help give employees the support they require, by empowering them in this way, they are less likely to be on the job hunt any time soon.

*The physical touch of the 5 love languages perhaps isn’t as appropriate in a workplace scenario, but I believe this could be tweaked for the purposes of this blog to ‘Physical Wellbeing’.


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