Topic: Employee Recognition


5 Ways to Recognize and Appreciate Healthcare Workers in 2024

Easy, meaningful ways to express empathy, show appreciation, and connect your people

Insights from

Updated on 

April 22, 2024






Healthcare workers continue to burn out.

According to a 4-year study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare workers continue to face a mental health crisis, even years after the Covid pandemic, due to:

  • Overwhelming demands
  • Talent shortages
  • Stressful working conditions
  • Increased harassment and challenging interactions with coworkers and patients

This has led to healthcare workers feeling burnout “very often” and an increase in the number of “poor mental health” days, resulting in higher risk of depression and anxiety. Almost half of U.S. healthcare workers (46%) often feel burned out and are likely to change jobs (44%), despite investing years of their lives training and working in the healthcare profession.

As the healthcare industry continues to rapidly evolve with new technology, AI, changing business models, and margin pressures, healthcare organizations need to innovate to keep up. And they’ll need their people to do so. While leaders try to improve employee mental health with things like more appealing benefit packages, the CDC’s research finds a positive workplace culture is the solution for less burnout and better mental health.

Appreciation is key to preventing burnout

Healthcare organizations with thriving cultures can prevent and mitigate employee burnout. Providing things like skill building opportunities, nimbly resilient practices, and practical empathy can be keys to success. And don’t forget the impact of simply appreciating your people.

“We can all support health workers by expressing our appreciation for their essential work and treating them with understanding and respect.”
— Casey Chosewood, Director and Senior Medical Officer, Office for Total Worker Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Simple things like recognizing and celebrating employee efforts and achievements help employees feel valued and connected and find more fulfillment at work.

Recognition is shown to decrease burnout and improve resiliency:

Research from the 2023 Global Culture Report showed the following: consistent recognition decreases the odds of employee burnout by 80%; when employees are nimbly resilient and recognized, odds of engagement improve; w; hen employees feel a sense of purpose and feel appreciated, there is a 115x higher likelihood of fulfillment; recognition decreases likelihood of employee attrition by 29%
2023 Global Culture Report, O.C. Tanner


The latest research on gift-giving tells a similar story. It shows that expensive, infrequent gifts do not have the long-term impact one might expect. Smaller gestures given more often, over time, are much more meaningful and valued—especially if they’re personalized.

Although combating burnout at healthcare organizations will require many long-term solutions, regular appreciation should be part of the strategy. Every single one of your nursing staff and hospital employees deserves to be recognized. And while Nurses Week and Hospital Week are critical times to thank employees, they shouldn’t be the only times. Celebrate during these weeks, but also remember to integrate appreciation into everyday moments, every week of the year. 

Here are 5 meaningful ways to recognize your employees during Nurses week, Hospital week, and beyond:

1. Leverage your existing employee recognition platform.

Giving points through your corporate program is an easy and quick way to say thank you with a tool your people are already using.

45% of healthcare workers say the recognition they receive feels like an empty gesture. So recognize them in a meaningful way that lets them choose gifts that are personal to them. Employee recognition software like Culture Cloud have a built-in Group Points Deposit feature that allows you to give every employee a certain amount of points that they can use to choose a personal gift they’ll love.

One healthcare organization gave recognition points to their staff when they were working from home and couldn’t attend in-person Hospital Week events. They continued the appreciation after Hospital Week was over by doing point deposits weekly for those who practiced safety and shared ideas that resulted in better patient care, fewer errors, and an enhanced workplace.

Examples of recognition given to healthcare employees via Culture Cloud

2. Give out a company-wide symbolic award or special gift.

The award makes up over 40% of the impact of the entire employee recognition experience, so be thoughtful in what you give. Consider a special symbolic gift to thank them for giving their all over another challenging year.

Another large healthcare organization gave beautiful custom “frontline hero” pins to their employees to wear on their badges during the hardest times of the pandemic. Other hospitals have given awards that are both practical and memorable: things like power banks for phones, nice bags to carry lunch in every day, custom tumblers for morning coffee, and gifts employees can share at home with their family. Employees will feel your appreciation whenever they use them.

Have leaders present these gifts in a thoughtful recognition moment to build connection with each employee—don’t just have employees come down to HR to pick up their gifts.

Beautiful “Frontline hero” pins given by a large healthcare organization to employees to wear on their badges during the hardest times of the pandemic

3. Let employees hear directly from leaders.

Only 62% of healthcare workers say their leader acknowledges the great work they do. While many healthcare organizations send out messages from their CEO and other senior leaders for Nurses week and Hospital week, employees want to hear appreciation from their direct leaders.

Personal messages from leaders show they see and care about the impact employees are making on the organization. eCards are an easy, quick, and fun way to communicate appreciation. Or make it even more heartfelt with handwritten notes, like NewYork-Presbyterian uses to help build a culture of respect and reduce attrition at their hospitals.

4. Send everyone a custom swag box to help them feel valued.

Another great idea for Nurses Week or Hospital Week? Build a custom swag box or survival kit where you can select specific gifts and also include a memorable message of thanks from the CEO to drive home your deep level of appreciation.

You could even choose to personalize the message with specific thoughts from the worker’s immediate manager. Just a few simple gifts can surprise, delight, and get hospital staff talking about how great it is to work for an organization that really cares about them. You may also choose to include corporate swag, like branded T-shirts or tumblers, as part of the mix.

A swag box for Eviance Health employees created by O.C. Tanner

5. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition.

Recognition shouldn’t just be limited to leaders during Nurses and Hospital week. 43% of healthcare workers say they rarely receive recognition from others when they do great work. But recognition from peers can strengthen connection, belonging, and inclusion. It also reduces burnout and improves teamwork.

Make recognition social by showcasing employee accomplishments and contributions across your organization and invite peers, patients, family, and community members to join in the appreciation. Social walls like the Wall of Fame in Culture Cloud help amplify the impact of recognition.

The healthiest workplace cultures recognize daily efforts, above and beyond accomplishments, career anniversaries, and team successes.

Remember, employee recognition and appreciation aren’t just for one week in May. 48% of healthcare workers say their organization only recognizes large accomplishments, not the smaller everyday efforts of their people. Show appreciation throughout the year because your employees do great work every day.

The healthiest workplace cultures in healthcare recognize the daily efforts, above and beyond accomplishments, career anniversaries, and team successes. For example, Norton Healthcare recognizes patient satisfaction, and University of Kentucky Healthcare celebrates career milestones in a special way. Other healthcare clients recognize throughout the year with Group Point Deposits when employees complete volunteer efforts, ongoing certifications, or early employee onboarding milestones.

However you choose to recognize, you’ll be building a company culture where your people feel connected, valued, and want to stay.

“People come into health care wanting fulfillment through meaningful work. It’s part of who we are. In fact‚ many times‚ our employees would say ‘It’s just what we do’. But that’s why it’s so imperative that we show our appreciation.”
—Jacinta Nelson, System Associate Vice President, Human Resources Operations, Norton Healthcare

Need a flexible, easy recognition solution to show appreciation to your people? Check out Culture Cloud and talk to us.

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