Caring for the Caregivers: How to Recognize Healthcare Staff

We ask a lot of healthcare professionals. Their expertise, care, and dedication keep our communities safe and healthy. Without them, we’d be in much worse shape. But, this constant care can come at a cost, as reports of burnout have led researchers to believe that there will be a shortage of nearly 140,000 US-based physicians by 2033.

Demands from the pandemic and a large, aging population have exhausted healthcare staff and resources and will continue to do so if preventative measures are not put in place. So, what can be done? How can organizations care for the people who care for us? 

Recent statistics suggest that strong employee recognition programs reduce turnover by 31%, and 37% of employees report that recognition is the most important thing their manager or company can provide to motivate them. In this guide, we’ll explore why recognition matters and walk through strategies you can use to recognize your hard-working healthcare employees. Let’s dive in!

Why healthcare recognition matters

Aside from reducing turnover, healthcare recognition leads to benefits for both staff and patients. By elevating the organization’s culture, consistent and genuine recognition can achieve the following objectives:

  • Talent acquisition. Motivated and well-equipped employees want to work where they feel their contributions will be recognized. A strong recognition program helps your organization stand out for healthcare job seekers looking for an uplifting work environment. 
  • Patient care. When healthcare workers feel appreciated for their work, they can provide better care, which leads to higher patient satisfaction rates and can improve metrics such as readmission rates. 
  • Operational performance enhancement. Employees who feel recognized for their efforts are more likely to perform their positions with enthusiasm and commitment, which can boost operational efficiency.
  • Stress reduction. Recognition can allow employees to feel more emotionally supported and equipped to handle the challenges of their roles with resilience.

A quick change like implementing recognition programs can go a long way. But, your specific recognition program needs to reflect your broader organizational goals and cater to your staff’s expectations to be effective.

In the next sections, we’ll explore four tips you can use to achieve a higher job morale that leads to organizational success. 

1. Learn how your healthcare employees want to be recognized

What makes one healthcare employee feel recognized might not produce the same effect for another. That’s why you should assess each employee’s recognition preferences ahead of time to determine what motivates them most. When onboarding new employees, consider sending a motivational assessment tool and have them answer questions such as:

  • What motivates you in your role, beyond financial compensation?
  • Do you prefer public or private recognition?
  • Are there any recognition experiences in your career that stand out as particularly meaningful to you?
  • Would you appreciate recognition that includes tangible rewards and gifts?
  • Do you have any career goals or aspirations that recognition can help support?

Asking these questions will help you address employee expectations and tailor your recognition to suit both your organization’s and staff’s goals. Our platform BadgeCert can help you easily issue, track and award recognition based on these outlined goals. For instance, if an employee completes a lengthy EHR integration training course, you can quickly recognize them using a customizable digital badge. 

2. Offer peer-to-peer recognition opportunities

Often, healthcare workers collaborate in tightly-knit teams to provide value-based care. Peer recognition gives staff members an opportunity to recognize one another for a job well done in a spontaneous and genuine way.

Kudos, rewards, and peer nominations are all ways you can encourage staff to uplift one another on a regular basis. Other, more unique ways you can do this include:

  • Celebrating personal and professional milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries.
  • Offering mentorship opportunities for capable and interested staff.
  • Providing anonymous recognition to employees who would like to keep their achievements private.
  • Organizing a retreat where employees can come together and celebrate their achievements for a dedicated period of time.

Peers can motivate each other through timely and sincere recognition. Look for ways you can integrate peer recognition into your day-to-day operations to inspire and engage your staff. You can even offer team-based rewards to help new employees connect with each other. 

3. Provide regular manager-to-staff recognition opportunities

40% of employees rank managers as the group that has the most impact on them when it comes to receiving recognition. Healthcare managers are essential to the success of their directs as they lead by example and encourage high performance. This means your manager-to-staff recognition opportunities should be regular and meaningful. Here are a few strategies you can use to offer consistent validation:

  • Establish clear expectations. Provide managers with a clear understanding of recognition-worthy behavior that they can be on the lookout for and encourage their directs to emulate. 
  • Train your managers. Offer workshops and resources to help managers understand the importance of recognition and validation in relation to retention. Equip them with the skills they need to inspire their teams. 
  • Schedule feedback sessions. Make recognition a part of team meetings, one-on-one meetings, or performance evaluations, so managers do not forget to provide meaningful recognition feedback.

Consider providing managers with validation awards and kudos as well to celebrate supervisors who excel in managing and engaging their staff. This opens up channels of recognition that can flow from the top-down and also bottom-up. 

4. Celebrate healthcare holidays

Healthcare holidays can usher in a sense of collective positivity and celebration for the inspirational work your organization does every day. Here are some key US-based  healthcare-related holidays your organization should mark in your calendar:

  • Certified Nurses Day – March 19th
  • National EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Week – third week in May
  • National Doctors Day – March 30th
  • Healthcare HR Professionals Week – third week in March
  • National Nurses Week – May 6th-12th
  • National CNA Week – third week in June
  • Medical Assistants Day – October 23rd

Another holiday to be mindful of is National Patient Recognition Week, which is the first full week in February. This can be a time for healthcare staff to reflect on the services they provide to improve patient care. It also serves as a week for healthcare workers to recommit to offering superior delivery and honoring the patient-doctor relationship.

Use these strategies to encourage an employee-centric environment where healthcare workers feel seen and celebrated for their contributions. By consistently rewarding and recognizing individuals, your organization can experience higher levels of efficiency and protect against burnout.

January 12, 2024

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