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In a healthcare setting marked by growing challenges, where demands include a rise in severely ill patients and extended work hours, nurses are finding themselves busier and more stressed than ever. The big question is: How can organizations make sure nurses are happy, involved, and wanting to stay despite these challenges? 

You can recognize and appreciate nurses without making it complicated or expensive. Discover quick and simple tips to show nurses that you value them. By learning easy ways to support their excellence and contributions, build strong teams, and encourage professional growth, you’ll create an environment where nurses feel important and appreciated daily. 

Thriving Together: The Power of Employee Recognition 

Healthcare workers often find motivation in a deep sense of purpose to serve and heal, which sets them apart from employees in other industries. Below are the reasons to acknowledge their unwavering commitment and contributions to patient well-being: 

Alleviates burnout among healthcare workers. 

Burnout is common among healthcare professionals, with the Journal of General Internal Medicine noting similar rates:  

  • Nurses (56 percent) 
  • Clinical staff (54 percent) 
  • Doctors (47 percent) 
  • Non-clinical staff (46 percent)¹

However, it’s essential to address this issue proactively. Research indicates that extended work hours and lack of sleep contribute significantly to burnout among hospital employees. These factors are common in hospital shift schedules and can greatly affect patient care.  

While the nature of healthcare may require unconventional working hours, employees should be recognized for their commitment to this demanding lifestyle. 

Showing support and appreciation recognizes their dedication, validates their hard work, and cultivates a positive workplace. Feeling appreciated and valued boosts morale, helping them cope with the challenges of their roles and, in turn, decreasing the risk of burnout. 

Related Reading: World Mental Health Day 2023: 7 Coping Strategies for the Nurse Burnout Syndrome 

Recognizes their remarkable contributions. 

We can’t talk about why we should appreciate healthcare workers without acknowledging their exceptional efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first year of the outbreak, 3,607 healthcare workers in the US lost their lives, creating a substantial gap that posed challenges for the healthcare system in dealing with the virus.² 

Surviving healthcare workers also faced their own difficulties. In a study focusing on hospital staff who worked during the pandemic, 39.9 percent reported experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, and 9.7 percent had suicidal thoughts.³  

The report recommended regular monitoring for signs of PTSD, especially among female healthcare workers who served on COVID-19 units. 

Related Reading: 4 Ways to Improve Patient Experience after COVID 

Though setting up a recognition program may seem like a small action, given the immense challenges healthcare workers face, it carries significant importance. It is a tangible way to express appreciation for the dedication and sacrifices they make every day. 

Additionally, linking recognition to rewards that support mental health and well-being is like giving them a lifebuoy. This helps them unplug from the demanding healthcare environment and take a moment to recharge. 

This connection between recognition and self-care reinforces the value placed on their contributions and overall welfare.

Support for the workforce on both national and global scales. 

Healthcare workers represent just one category of employees in our society. However, their exceptional efforts contribute to the well-being of workers across various industries, ensuring mental and physical health.  

Consider this scenario: A mechanic named Will visits the emergency room with a sprained ankle. After receiving treatment, he quickly returns to work, repairing cars for fellow employees who rely on their vehicles for their livelihoods. 

This cycle highlights the interdependency between healthcare workers and other professions – quality medical care allows employees like Will to continue contributing their skills across sectors. 

Healthcare workers are the backbone of our success and health. If they don’t get the support they need, we might face bigger health problems in the future. Ironically, these caregivers who desire to help others can end up neglecting self-care needs or hurting their health.  

That is why it’s important to appreciate those who help by prioritizing ways to support them. When we invest in our frontline workers, our whole society reaps the benefits. 

Showing Appreciation: Thoughtful Ideas for Nurses 

Showing recognition to nurses shouldn’t happen just once a year during Nurses Week; it should be something we do all the time in every unit. That’s why we’ve gathered some ways to help you celebrate your nurses’ successes, such as by expressing gratitude for their excellent work or just letting them know you’re thinking about them. 

1. On-the-Spot Recognition 

Demonstrating on-the-spot appreciation for your employees doesn’t require much effort. If you see someone going beyond their regular duties or completing a task exceptionally well, take a moment to thank them and acknowledge their excellent work. 

It might be easy to miss these qualities, especially on busy or low-energy days, but it’s essential to remember that your role would be incredibly challenging without your dedicated staff. A simple, spoken expression of gratitude can significantly improve your team’s mood and mental well-being. 

You can say: 

  • Hey Sofia, I saw how you handled that tricky patient case today—super impressed! Your attention to detail really shines. Thanks for doing such a great job! 
  • Tom, saw how you crushed that presentation—seriously impressive. Your hard work and dedication don’t go unnoticed. Thanks a ton for your stellar work! 
  • Sarah, thanks a million for helping out our new team member. Your willingness to help and share your knowledge makes a significant impact. 

2. Employee Newsletter 

Giving public recognition is a fantastic way to let everyone in the organization or even your customers know about your nurses’ appreciation. It’s also a great way to show that hard work and commitment don’t go unnoticed, encouraging other staff members to aim for acknowledgment too. 

Consider using an employee newsletter or spotlight section to highlight recent successes and accomplishments. Anyone—patients, visitors, or employees—can nominate staff members for their outstanding care. All nominees get a mention in the monthly newsletter, and a winner is selected every quarter. 

3. Sugar Magic 

Making people happy is simple when you give them goodies. However, it’s not just about bringing in a box of doughnuts—making the treat personal adds meaning and makes it unforgettable. Here are the following suggestions, and some of them can be prepared in advance so you’re always ready when a team member excels: 

  • Attach a handwritten note of appreciation to a basket filled with candy bars. The recipient can enjoy the treats, and the note can be displayed for everyone to see. 
  • When a staff member works an extra shift, gift them a roll of Life Savers candy and say they are a “lifesaver.” 
  • For a nurse who goes beyond their regular duties, offer a Nestlé Crunch bar along with a gift card expressing gratitude for helping out in a crunch. 
  • Start each shift by placing a bunch of bananas (and other assorted fruit) in the staff break room with a note saying, “You are a great bunch to work with!” 
  • Celebrate nurse involvement in interdisciplinary patient-centered committees by organizing a pizza party for the unit. 

4. Recognition Events 

You can appreciate nurses’ outstanding work by giving them financial rewards or gifts, but over time, these gifts might become expensive. To supplement or replace these gifts, consider creating unique awards for your nurses. 

For instance, at the end of the year, you can distribute special certificates or prizes to your nursing team. Some categories could be: 

  • Outstanding Patient Care Achievement Award 
  • Exemplary Attendance Award 
  • Best Bedside Care 
  • Most Valuable Employee 

5. Paid Time Off 

Expressing gratitude for dedication is best shown through a few additional paid time off (PTO), providing employees the opportunity to rest and recharge to prevent burnout. 

To establish a PTO system, consider integrating customized rewards into an employee recognition platform. Healthcare workers accumulate points for commendations and recognition, which they can exchange for personalized rewards, such as an extra day off. 

6. Create Space for Receiving Feedback 

No matter how much you strive to appreciate your nurses, actively listening to their feedback is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate your care. Allow room for staff feedback and make an effort to address their concerns as best as you can. 

Sometimes, simply making someone feel acknowledged is enough to show your gratitude. If your staff feels their opinions are disregarded, it could impact their job performance. When they know their voices are heard, they feel valued, which fosters a positive work environment. 

7. Career Advancement Opportunities 

Arguably, the most significant motivation and acknowledgment for excellent performance come in the form of a promotion. Choosing to promote from within your organization rather than hiring externally encourages your staff to strive for excellence. 

Offering career advancement opportunities to existing team members signals your belief in their capabilities. When a staff member senses stagnation in their career, they may lack the drive to challenge themselves or develop professionally. A promotion within your team communicates to everyone that a promising future awaits those willing to put in the effort. 

Read More: Is Continuing Education Worthwhile for Global Nurses? 

GIVE YOUR NURSING HEROES THE APPRECIATION THEY DESERVE WITH PRS GLOBAL 

Unleash your organization’s full potential by partnering with PRS Global to give your nursing heroes the recognition they truly deserve. Foster a culture of appreciation, inspire your healthcare professionals, and attract top talent to your team.  

In just 9 months, we can efficiently find healthcare professionals for you. Expand your recruitment pipeline with the potential to hire as many as 100 nurses each month. Establish an environment where nurses feel important and appreciated every single day. Start making a positive impact—contact us now! 

References 

1 Rotenstein, Lisa S., et al. “The Association of Work Overload with Burnout and Intent to Leave the Job across the Healthcare Workforce during COVID-19.” Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol. 38, no. 8, 23 Mar. 2023, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-023-08153-z. 

2 Guardian, The Staffs of KFF Health News and The. “Lost on the Frontline: Explore the Database.” KFF Health News, 7 Apr. 2021, kffhealthnews.org/news/lost-on-the-frontline-explore-the-database/. Accessed 12 Jan. 2024. 

3 Bayazit, Huseyin, et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Health Care Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Psychiatric Practice, vol. 28, no. 5, 1 Sept. 2022, pp. 354–361, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36074104/, https://doi.org/10.1097/PRA.0000000000000661.