Being a health care professional can at times seem like grueling, thankless work. With so many moving parts, you don’t always see the benefits of your actions, and not all stories have happy endings. That is why it is essential to recognize your team’s hard work and put in extra effort to make sure they feel valued for their sacrifices. According to Recognize Research, a study has shown that by giving meaningful recognition to team members, you can increase productivity and job satisfaction in your team and lessen mental health concerns.
Recognition is a truly fantastic tool, not only does it help the recipient and the giver but it also promotes team chemistry. As a leader, one of my favorite things to do is to be on The Daisy Award committee. I look forward to it every quarter, as it is when we get to award nurses who have shown extraordinary care and compassion, as well as clinical expertise. It’s uplifting to hear the stories that people are writing about those providing care and know that someone took the time to write it and submit it. The fact that someone noticed and cared to say, “You really helped me,” shows just how influential one person’s actions can have on another. Heartwarming stories like these remind me why I became a nurse and can lift us even on our most challenging days.
Knowing this, it becomes all the more important to find ways to recognize our individual health care professionals and teams; in doing so, we hope to provide assurance of their value and the fantastic work they do. Here are a couple of practical ways that we can give meaningful recognition to our teammates:
- Be on the hunt for good things. Evolution has trained our brains to look for what’s wrong to protect us from harm. Shift your mindset and try to find the good happening around you. Ask care team members to share and pass along the above and beyond moments that deserve celebration. Recognize people for what you see and what you hear from others. Often, the recognition sourced from a colleague is more impactful than recognition coming from a leader.
- Be specific in the way you recognize. For recognition and appreciation to be truly meaningful, it must be specific. A “thank you” is nice, but does it convey genuine appreciation and gratitude? Ask yourself: What am I thanking them for? I know many times, someone will reply with, “Oh, that’s my job.” Their job might be to educate clinical care to patients, but you can verbally acknowledge that they spent that extra 10 minutes to make sure they understood care instructions. Their job might be to care for patients, and you saw them being there for a patient who was struggling after receiving bad news. Be specific when recognizing their actions and behaviors to celebrate them and who they are. Acknowledging the small things goes a long way in encouraging your teammates when they are exhausted.
- Find out how people like to be recognized. Spend time with your team to get to know them and the things they love and how they would like to be appreciated. In our unit, we have something called an All About Me binder. It’s located right at the nursing station, so everyone can see it and have access to it. It’s full of information about each care team member’s birthdays, anniversaries, favorite drinks, favorite candies, favorite places to shop, etc. For example, I can bring a colleague her favorite chocolate bar when I know she has had a bad day. It’s a simple way to say, “I see how hard you are working. Thank you for all you do. I see and appreciate you.”
In these challenging times, taking a moment to recognize and celebrate your teammates is a game-changer. It reminds us all that we are not alone. It reminds us that we are valued and that our work matters.
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Danielle Graber, RN is the director of nursing at Banner Health, one of the largest health care systems in the country, with over 28 acute-care hospitals in their system under her care.