Nurse retention strategies: Formal recognition

Nurse Leader Insider, February 12, 2020

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Part of the challenge of recognizing staff performance is understanding its importance and making it a priority, taking the time to think about it and doing it as often as possible. Creating a structure for formal staff recognition in organizations, departments, and units can ensure staff get recognized on an ongoing basis.

One way to accomplish this is as simple as designating a week or month of the year as a time that staff contributions are recognized. (Many managers use Nurses’ Week as a yearly recognition.) Including this practice as part of your monthly staff meetings is a great way to recognize behaviors that you want all staff to emulate. Develop an employee-of-the-month program or employee-of-the-year lunch or breakfast that provides an opportunity for staff members on all shifts to participate.

So what are some things that can be done to recognize staff?

When it comes to staff recognition, managers must identify what is important and meaningful to the staff member. Not all staff are comfortable with public recognition in front of a large audience and would shudder at the thought of having to walk across the stage of an auditorium; they might prefer private recognition, such as a simple handwritten thank you note. There are many ways managers can recognize their staff members.

The following are a few ideas for formal staff recognition activities:

  • Public employee/organization forums
  • Staff meetings
  • Annual staff dinners
  • Organization newsletters
  • Put a plaque on a wall
  • Surprising them with lunch celebrations
  • Meet them at their car at the end of the day with a thank-you note
  • Special assigned parking space for a month
  • A poster in the lobby
  • A spot on the organization website

The ideas are endless, and so is the potential for creativity. Use your imagination and draw on the ideas of coworkers and those who know the staff member best. Form a council, committee, or task force of peers and team members to share their insights regarding how to best show recognition.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the Nurse Manager's Guide to Retention and Recruitment.

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