May 6-12, 2023 is National Nurses Week. Nurses perform some of the most important yet difficult work in the world today. They’re often the first person a patient sees when they’re at their most vulnerable, they work long hours on their feet, and they keep the healthcare system running by completing the most critical day-to-day patient care tasks. And Nurses Week is a week dedicated to recognizing this selfless work.
Recognizing nurses is even more important in recent years as we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses served on the front lines, risking their own health and wellness to care for people who needed it the most. As a result, many nurses have struggled with burnout and mental health challenges. Nurses Week is one small way you can show your appreciation and improve your nursing staff retention.
On top of this, when your nursing staff feels recognized and valued they’re more likely to share their positive experience with their friends, family, and peers — which can help you drive more applicants for your open roles. In fact, employee referral programs are the number one source of talent among Hireology customers.
So how can you recognize your staff during Nurses Week and beyond? Whether you’re an agency or a skilled nursing facility, these six recognition efforts can go a long way in making your team know how valued and appreciated they really are.
Here’s how to recognize your staff during Nurses Week (and beyond)
No matter which of the approaches you take below, the key to making sure your messages are received is always tying your appreciation back to patient outcomes. Make it clear that without the hard work and dedication of your staff directly impact the experiences and outcomes of your patients.
With that in mind, here’s our advice:
Say thank you!
A good old fashioned “thank you” can go a long way. Say it in person to each member of your staff, send everyone a personalized email or note, and put up signs around the break room and other areas your staff frequents that say thank you and show you value their commitment to your organization. A heartfelt thank you is easy for you and it means a lot to the recipient. And it’s something that you should be doing regularly — not just during the designated week of appreciation.
Turn the tables and care for them
Nurses are on their feet all day and they are more likely than most professionals to struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. Acknowledge the toll this job can take by turning the tables and caring for them. Maybe you treat them to a spa day with gift certificates, bring in meditation or yoga experts to lead them through relaxation exercises, or offer access to counseling.
Give awards during this week that recognize either stand-out nurses or honor team member anniversaries. For example, maybe you create an annual award for the “Nurse of the Year” to recognize a team member every year who goes above and beyond. Or you might honor team members once they reach their one-year, three-year, and five-year anniversaries. Recognizing time of service is also a good way to get people to stick around, as it gives people something to work toward and prevents them from jumping ship to other opportunities.
Open up to feedback
Sometimes the best way to show you care about your team is giving them a channel to express their feedback and needs. Send out a survey or a suggestion box where staff can anonymously share what they like about working for you and what they’d like to see changed. But of course don’t just stop there — commit yourself to taking action on this feedback. Making real and legitimate changes in response to your team’s input demonstrates that you care about their well-being.
Give gifts and offer other perks
Gifts are also a good way to show your appreciation. This can come in the form of flowers, gift cards to local coffee shops or restaurants, cash bonuses, water bottles, sweatshirts, or other branded items. But remember that people can tell when you give a gift with no real emotion or true feeling behind them. Giving gifts of course should be always paired with some of the other tips in this guide, such as heartfelt thank yous, public displays of appreciation, and a willingness to hear and act on feedback.
Publicize your appreciation
Private messages and notes are important because they allow you to personalize your thoughts, but sharing your appreciation publicly can also go a long way. Showcase nursing staff members on your career site or feature individuals on your social media profiles. For many, the publicity of the recognition can add even more meaning to the message. Plus, it’s great for your employer branding strategy as it shows potential applicants how deeply you value your team.
Nothing shows your appreciation more than a fully staffed team
When your nursing team is fully staffed, it allows people to have more flexibility in their schedules, makes it easier for them to take paid time off, and generally helps your team avoid burnout. At a time when many healthcare workers are redefining what work means for them and pursuing opportunities that allow them to live the lives they want for themselves, you need to do everything you can to provide that added support and flexibility.
But of course healthcare recruiting isn’t easy these days. We’re still facing an unprecedented labor supply and demand imbalance. And healthcare is feeling the effects of this more so than most other industries. It’s tough to stand out among the dozens of employers competing for every one job seeker — many of which are offering perks like higher pay and remote work.
The good news is that there are adjustments you can make to your healthcare staffing strategy to attract more nursing and other caregiving talent.
Here’s our advice:
- Revamp your employer branding: Rewrite your job descriptions, job board ads, and career site content and articulate what you offer that job seekers want. Lead with benefits like flexibility, paid time off, career growth, and of course your track record of employee appreciation.
- Leverage your existing employees: Healthcare workers often rely more heavily on their networks when looking for jobs than traditional channels like job boards. So incentivize your employees to spread the word about your open positions to their industry acquaintances through an employee referral program. Offer cash bonuses or other prizes for caregivers who are hired via referrals. And make it easy for folks to submit their referral contacts.
- Embrace candidate texting: Nurses work on their feet all day — they spend very little time on computers. So when you do have someone interested in your open roles, communicate with them via text. Emails are difficult to craft on a phone and too easy to miss. But texts are rarely overlooked, and they’re easy to respond to on-the-go.
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to serve as many patients or provide the top-notch care you strive for. So during Nurses Week (and beyond) use the above advice to go out of your way to show these vital team members just how deeply you value their work.