How Employee Appreciation Programs Can Help Keep Healthcare Workers Engaged Amidst Labour Shortages

Date: September 7, 2022
Healthcare shortage

The healthcare industry continues to suffer from major labour shortages and it’s costing it millions. According to NSI Nursing Solutions Inc, the average annual turnover expense for nurses leaving the workforce adds up to $4.85 million. Currently, the national turnover rate ranges from between 8.8 to a shocking 37%

There are several reasons why the industry suffers from such high turnover rates. The number of professionals entering the profession is declining, the average age of nurses, in particular, is climbing, and the average salary for registered nurses is not changing enough to justify the long hours and emotionally-draining work involved. Healthcare workers are also burning out more than ever before. A Mental Health America survey found that 75% of healthcare workers reported exhaustion and burnout on the job, only making the profession a less appealing one to take up by the minute. 

The case for employee appreciation programs in healthcare

employee appreciation program

With many factors at hand, it may be a while before the supply and demand of talent levels out in the healthcare industry. On a micro-level however, there is certainly more that organizations in the industry can do to avoid turnover. Research has shown that nurses who feel valued, appreciated, and respected will stay at an organization and remain engaged in their profession. Let’s take a look at some of the ways healthcare organizations can reduce turnover by investing their efforts into employee appreciation programs. 

Employee appreciation programs help increase the frequency of recognition    

A 2021 Harvard Business Review study found that people like nurses and other professionals in “helper” professions place a high value on social recognition and are far less motivated by salary. 

Sadly, healthcare workers aren’t getting very much of this. While they do get referred to as “heroes” and are celebrated in annual appreciation events by the public, this is hardly enough to meet their needs for social recognition. Internally, many nurses report that they get very little recognition and praise from their managers. Relying on managers alone also poses a problem since they are seldom around to witness every interaction between the nurses and their patients every day. There are far too many instances of exemplary performance that slip under the radar. As a result, nurses and other workers are returning home every day without feeling any sense of appreciation after navigating the very high demands of their jobs. 

employee appreciation program
Source: Wagmag

Opening up the opportunity for peer-to peer-recognition in healthcare organizations can be a game changer here since peers are usually the ones around to witness how a worker goes above and beyond for patient care or how they handle a particularly challenging situation. Introducing peer recognition can then help increase the frequency of recognition and the amount of praise and appreciation nurses get in their work week. 

An SHRM/Globoforce survey found that organizations that have implemented peer-to-peer recognition perform better. When you look at companies that promote peer-to-peer recognition versus those that don’t, they are 11.5% more likely to impact engagement in the workplace and 34.8% more likely to help with employee retention.

An easy way to get the ball rolling on peer recognition is to implement employee recognition software that’s built with peer recognition capabilities in the platform. Rolling out one of these platforms can help make sure that recognition and appreciation are shown in more timely, frequent, specific, and meaningful ways — all of which are essential for making workers feel valued. 

Employee appreciation encourages connection in the workplace 

employee appreciation program

A common reason why nurses feel disengaged on the job or leave the field altogether is due to feeling isolated on the job. A study by Oncology Nursing News found that nurses who experience fewer interactions, and of lower quality, with their managers, trust their supervisors less, and feel that their work is not meaningful have a much higher level of workplace loneliness.

Healthcare organizations can use employee appreciation initiatives as a tool for building community in the workplace too. Praising staff, either verbally at standup meetings, more casually as part of cultural norms, or through a peer recognition platform can help build strong cultures of appreciation and help recharge teams. Fast Company states that workplace connections can increase happiness as much as making $100,000 annually can. When nurses feel like they are part of a positive culture, have real friendships at work, and feel a sense of belonging with their community, they protect themselves against feelings of isolation and loneliness on the job and are far less likely to consider leaving their “work families”. 

Employee appreciation programs help improve performance and patient care

Disengaged and burned-out employees in the healthcare industry can be a huge risk to others, as at the end of the day, patient care suffers as a result. A survey found that 44% of nurses worry that their patient care will suffer because they’re so tired. This is a risk that healthcare organizations simply cannot afford to take. 

Reports suggest that healthcare companies with high levels of employee engagement face 41% fewer patient safety incidents. Since employee appreciation and recognition are known to positively impact employee engagement, investments in such incentives are extremely worthwhile, both to the workforce and to patients deserving the very best care.

employee appreciation program

An idea for showing appreciation and giving recognition in the healthcare industry is to offer employees customized employee rewards for their performance. When deciding how to recognize and reward employees, hospital and healthcare facility managers should do their best to avoid focusing on financial rewards alone and explore what else might be of interest. By offering a range of rewards from experiences, to bonus days off, free subscriptions, and more, they are more likely to appeal to a wider range of employee wants and needs. 

To get an idea of how employee recognition and rewards software can be used in the healthcare industry, read this case study on how a leading global provider of in-home care implemented a program to keep staff engaged and build a world-class culture, lowering its turnover rates from 80% down to 40-50%. 

In an industry faced with high burnout rates, high turnover, and labour shortages, healthcare organizations must do all that they can now to engage their staff by showing true appreciation for hard work. It may still be a while before enough talent enters the workforce, but fostering work environments that are dedicated to appreciation can certainly help make a difference to workers who truly value it.  

Curious about Bucketlist Rewards and the impact employee rewards and recognition programs can have on your healthcare workers? Contact us for a product demo with one of our friendly Culture Evangelists to learn how Bucketlist’s employee reward and recognition software can help you keep your team happy and increase retention!

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