With National Nurses Week (May 6–12) and Hospital Week (May 7–13) quickly approaching, It’s an important time to recognise healthcare workers. Organisations are looking for new ways to thank nurses and hospital workers for their amazing work and perseverance after another year full of ongoing challenges and uncertainty.
What is the current state of nursing and healthcare? CBS News reports that about one in five registered nursing jobs are still going unfilled—and the shortage is only getting worse due to the combination of the lingering pandemic, an aging workforce, and an aging population in need of more care. That shortage can lead to the stress of high workloads or picking up extra shifts.
Keeping those nurses and hospital workers remains another challenge. Robyn Begley, CEO of the American Organisation of Nursing Leadership (AONL), tells Nurse.com that burned-out nurses are leaving organisations because they want better work-life balance. She adds, “Not feeling listened to or supported at work ranks right up there with insufficient staffing and insufficient pay among the reasons nurses list for leaving.” Further evidence how nurses are feeling? Just days into 2023, more than 7,000 nurses at two major New York City hospitals walked off the job, citing widespread burnout and an inability to properly care for their patients.
In short, nurses are exhausted. Although the remedy to combat burnout at hospitals and other healthcare facilities will require many long-term solutions, regular appreciation can go a long way in helping nurses feel seen and valued. Every single one of your nursing staff and hospital employees deserves to be recognised.
— Dr. Laura Forese, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President
Recognition connects people to their organisation because it helps them feel appreciated, valued, and more inclined to stay. Unfortunately, only 66% of healthcare workers feel appreciated at work. And 38% of healthcare workers say their situation at work is hurting their ability to be happy in other aspects of their lives.
Research from our 2023 Global Culture Report uncovered more frequent recognition can be more powerful than once-a-year recognition efforts alone. So although Nurses Week and Hospital Week are a critical time to thank employees, it shouldn’t be the only time. It’s vitally important to integrate appreciation into everyday moments throughout every week of the year.
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 personalised.
This year, in addition to gifts of appreciation, catered meals, or a week of fun activities, remember to show your employees genuine, heartfelt appreciation for all the work they do to take care of patients and keep your organisation going. But also make plans to integrate recognition experiences more frequently throughout the year.
Following are five meaningful ways to recognise your employees during Nurses week, Hospital Week, and beyond:
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 recognise 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 organisation 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.
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 organisation 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.
Only 62% of healthcare workers say their leader acknowledges the great work they do. While many healthcare organisations 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 organisation. 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.
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 personalise 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 organisation that really cares about them. You may also choose to include corporate swag, like branded T-shirts or tumblers, as part of the mix.
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 organisation 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.
Remember, employee recognition and appreciation aren’t just for one week in May. 48% of healthcare workers say their organisation only recognises 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 recognise the daily efforts, above and beyond accomplishments, career anniversaries, and team successes. For example, Norton Healthcare recognises patient satisfaction, and University of Kentucky Healthcare celebrates career milestones in a special way. Other healthcare clients recognise throughout the year with Group Point Deposits when employees complete volunteer efforts, ongoing certifications, or early employee onboarding milestones.
However you choose to recognise, you’ll be building a company culture where your people feel connected, valued, and want to stay.
— Jacinta Nelson, System Associate Vice President, Human Resources Operations,
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