Company Culture
Employee motivation
Employee recognition

The Healthcare Industry’s Guide to Rewards and Recognition

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Healthcare workers are putting in longer hours than ever and leaving voluntarily at record rates. Simply put: medical workers are burnt out. 😫 The solution is complex and can come in many forms: from hiring additional help and decreasing team workload, to meaningful team building events and bolstering vacation policies. However, there’s one key ingredient that impacts both employee burnout and retention: employee recognition.

While we think key healthcare employee holidays like National Nurses Day are important, effective recognition must be timely, frequent, and values-based for optimal impact. According to Gallup, “only 18% of healthcare workers say that teams and groups of people are recognized at their organization. This is below the average for U.S. employees (22%).” 

Now that we’ve gotten the doom and gloom out the way, here’s the bright spot: according to a recent study “Workplace appreciation had a significant effect in increasing performance and reducing depression and burnout among nurses and physicians.” As if that wasn’t enough, recognition improves patient safety and employees’ connection with their organization’s company culture. 👏

So, where should healthcare organizations start when it comes to recognizing their employees? Let’s jump in to 10 healthcare employee recognition  ideas that your employees (and your bottom line) will love! 

10 Healthcare Employee Recognition Ideas Your Staff will Appreciate

1. Extra PTO day

Let’s start with the obvious: the best gift you could give an overworked medical worker is time off. Whether they use this time to catch up on life tasks, nap, or spend extra time with their family, incremental time off is a great motivator. If you already have a robust vacation policy in place, consider assessing the average amount of vacation employees are taking and whether they might need encouragement to use their vacation time.

2. Incentivize positive patient experience

Healthcare success is driven by patient experience, reviews, and outcomes. You can use rewards and recognition to incentivize employees who go above and beyond to ensure patient satisfaction. Here are some ideas: 

  1. Incentivize employees to be more efficient with responding to patient emails, voicemails, and calls. For instance, recognize any employee who gets back to patients in less than 24 hours. 
  2. Receiving recognition increases patient safety, so consider setting up an employee nomination system for peers to submit employees who prioritized patient safety each month. 
  3. Recognize positive patient feedback by rewarding the employees whose names get mentioned in customer reviews. 

3. Encourage candidate referrals

Healthcare professionals are hard to find and even harder to keep, but your existing employees can be one of the best resources for sourcing new talent. Consider implementing a referral program and offering incentives (small or large) for employee referrals. 

4. Prioritize wellness

Employee burnout and positive mental health are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Consider adding moments of mindfulness and delight throughout the year, to show your employees that you care about their physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few ideas to keep your employees cared for:

  • Wellness gift basket: Put together a wellness gift basket for your employees, and consider aligning this gift with a key healthcare professional holiday. We’re talking essential oils, tea, tasty snacks, and cozy socks.
  • Wellness stipend: This is the largest expense on the list, but arguably the most impactful. Give your employees a set budget every month to spend on wellness-enhancing activities like gym memberships, therapy sessions, or new workout equipment. Though wellness stipends are a larger investment, they can pay dividends in the form of reduced stress and enhanced job performance. 
  • Host an event: Host a wellness event like a yoga class or group meditation. You only need five minutes to make a profound impact on your team's day. 
  • Bring in a masseuse: Surprise and delight your employees by bringing in a chair masseuse to offer massages during daily breaks. 

5. Custom swag

Company swag is a great way to promote your employer brand and employees love it! Might we suggest custom sweatshirts? We know those hospitals get cold. Or get personal with customized gifts like embroidered scrubs or engraved stethoscopes. 

6. Host team building events

Team building can have a powerful impact on morale and teamwork  and can create a stronger sense of community, which is key to retention. If you’re looking for low to no cost ideas to get started with, check out these meaningful team building ideas

7. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and new hire start dates

Celebrating special milestones in your team’s lives can have a strong impact on employee engagement. Create processes to celebrate employee birthdays, anniversaries, and new hire dates. Ensure the system is equitable and that you have systems in place to ensure no one’s special day goes unnoticed. You can also use an employee recognition platform to automate recognition for these celebrations so you’ll never forget a special day again!

8. Reserved parking spot

This one is as simple as it sounds. Reward one special employee per month with their own reserved parking spot. 🅿️

9. Nomination program 

Get the whole organization involved in nominating their peers to win a special award. Have them submit nominations aligned with your company core values. For instance, if you have a core value of safety, collect submissions for that core value and pick the employee with the most nominations to publicly celebrate with a special award. 

10. Everyone loves food!

Last, but not least on this list is #freefood. Not only does creating rituals around food in the workplace bring your employees joy, but it can create more opportunities for employee connection and increase morale. Consider instituting fun food rituals like Free Food Fridays or Trail Mix bar Tuesdays. Food for thought…🌮

The Takeaway

Healthcare employees are some of the world’s hardest workers, and the impact they create is second to none. It’s important they are recognized and rewarded for their critical work so they stay engaged in their roles. We hope you’re inspired to implement these fun and meaningful employee recognition ideas. If you’re ready to formalize your recognition program and improve your reward experience, you can set up time with one of our employee recognition experts so you can create a winning workplace. 

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