Topic: Employee Recognition


Norton Healthcare: Rebuilding Community and Wellbeing with Recognition

Norton Healthcare
North America




of employees recognized


percentile leader relationship score

*Norton Healthcare won the 2023 Breakthrough Award for Strategic Impact

Working in health care can be tough. The COVID-19 pandemic put additional pressure on health care workers creating higher stress and burnout.  Norton Healthcare, a not-for-profit health care system based in Louisville, Kentucky with over 18,600 employees in more than 350 sites of care—including 6 hospitals—has created a culture where recognition and appreciation help people feel valued for the important work they do. When the organization faces challenges like a global pandemic, they can lean on that culture of recognition to ensure employees stay in the Norton Healthcare family and are connected to Norton Healthcare’s mission.

“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 important that we show our appreciation.”
—Jacinta Nelson, System Associate Vice President, Human Resources Operations


Norton Healthcare believes in the power of recognition. Their program, N Recognition of You (powered by O.C. Tanner), provides a centralized way for employees and their leaders to recognize everyday efforts, great work, and years of service of their peers. N Recognition of You is aligned to Norton Healthcare’s values and allows all employees the opportunity to be recognized and provide recognition in every aspect of their life at work—from their first day on the job to big and small accomplishments throughout their career, major career milestones, and even retirement.

Along with recognition, Norton Healthcare regularly listens to their employees. During and after the pandemic, they heard employees were feeling additional stress and burnout and needed more resources to support and strengthen their well-being. Because Norton Healthcare knows burnout leads to decreased productivity, increased turnover, increased workload, and adverse patient outcomes, they wanted to find immediate solutions to support their employees, specifically their front-line workers and leaders.


Norton Healthcare used N Recognition of You to help build connection and community at work. Previous analysis of recognition and engagement scores found a statistical correlation between the number of times an employee was recognized and their engagement level.

So, the organization increased recognition to strengthen connection with their teams, appreciate employees when they least expect it, and share employee stories, accomplishments and contributions that connect to their purpose. They built recognition into leader tools, training, and communication, all helping to strengthen leader relationships and help employees feel valued. The Employee Experience team leveraged their business partners, including Patient Experience and Patient Safety teams, to ensure recognition was happening throughout the entire organization. They created monthly employee communications around engagement and recognition to promote using N Recognition of You and share employee stories.

“Being able to use the system to help with different initiatives we are working on and consistently tying it all back to recognition has been very impactful,” says Jason Coffey, Director, Employee Experience.

Norton Healthcare also encouraged their leaders to get to know their people better through leader rounding. These check-ins give employees opportunities to speak up and allow leaders a chance to act on the employees’ concerns and suggestions. All of this contributes to a renewed focus on employee wellbeing through listening, connection, and leader relationships so Norton Healthcare takes care of not only their patients, but also their employees.

“Recognition is the world’s greatest retention tool.”
—Russell F. Cox, President and CEO

Norton Healthcare’s Recognition Journey

  • 2001: Began partnership with O.C. Tanner and launched Years of Service program
  • 2009: Launched N Recognition of You to recognize performance
  • 2012: Created business partner integrations
  • 2013: Received Recognition Leadership Award from O.C. Tanner
  • 2015: Received Recognition Champion Award from O.C. Tanner
  • 2017: Launched Great Work Mobile Application
  • 2019: Launched on-the-spot offline recognition tools (N – Action Cards)
  • 2021: Achieved Millionth Recognition moment


  • In 2021, Norton Healthcare celebrated their one millionth recognition moment
  • 100% of employees have been recognized with N Recognition of You
  • After increasing the amount of recognition, leader relationship scores increased from the 86th percentile in 2020 to the 99th percentile in 2021
  • Burnout scores improved despite the pandemic, as did the feeling “Norton Healthcare helps me deal with stress and burnout” (from 31st to 85th percentile)
“We feel like the O.C. Tanner team is part of our own work team. They understand our culture and our needs and are always available to brainstorm ideas and help with our overall recognition and employee experience strategy.”
—Jason Coffey, Director, Employee Experience

Outcomes are everything
We’d love to share what we’ve helped Norton Healthcare and thousands of other clients achieve. Reach out to us to start your employee recognition journey.

related Resources

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The Top 5 Questions about the ROI of Employee Recognition

Get answers to common questions about the ROI of employee recognition.

6 Reasons To Choose O.C. Tanner for Employee Recognition

Here are six reasons why O.C. Tanner is the ideal employee recognition partner—based on client survey data and testimonials.

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