Employee Recognition-A Matter of Health and Care

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By Roy Saunderson

When Dr. Jean-Pierre Brun, the Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Management at Université Laval in Québec City stated a lack of recognition at work was the second highest cause of stress in the workplace, it makes you realize how impacting on our health expressing appreciation can be in someone’s life.

What we have discovered is the art and practice of giving people recognition is a felt phenomenon which inluences the self-esteem of the recipient who then wants to continue to perform well in whatever work they do. It seems by expressing verbal and written praise and appreciation it is more than just a good thing to do – it’s a healthy thing to do too.

In California, at the Heart Math Institute, they conducted pioneering research studying heart rate variability (HRV) using echocardiograms (EKG) of when people put themselves into a self-induced state of frustration or into a state of feeling genuine appreciation. When individuals fixated on thoughts of frustration they displayed an erratic, disordered heart rhythm pattern. This contrasted significantly with the smooth, harmonious, and regular heart patterns of individuals who focused strictly on positive emotions of feelings of appreciation. When we feel appreciated we are likely to be healthier just by keeping a healthy HRV with our hearts.

Working for a good boss – whether a nurse manager, clinical department head, or a doctor – can positively or negatively affect your total health and wellbeing. A Swedish study of 3,122 men conducted in 2009 asked male employees to rate their bosses using a survey. These men worked in jobs which were a mix of union and non-union workplaces – similar to many health professionals. The survey asked 5 questions, two of which were on recognition at work, and were found to be most predictive of heart disease or stroke. Men who rated their boss as low in these areas were found to have a 50% greater risk of a heart attack.

Some hospitals and healthcare organizations develop an array of formal recognition programs to honor length of service, exceptional job performance, teamwork, personal development, and activities above and beyond expected work performance. The problem with these formal awards programs is they only include and impact about 1 to 3 percent of the total employee base. In addition, formal award programs most often happen just annually or at most quarterly and so are not frequent enough to make a lasting impact.

Real impact on a person’s life comes from the everyday individual recognition practices of taking time to show you care and speak words of positive acknowledgement to another. It has always been said that it is the little things that make a big difference.

How good is your manager at recognizing you?

Sometimes all it takes is creating awareness to the problem. There is no doubt healthcare professionals have heavy and unpredictable work demands placed upon them. Make time to tell your boss how much you appreciate what they do for you when they genuinely go to bat for you. Tell them that you like to hear how you are doing and request periodic, quick, one-on-one opportunities for positive feedback.

Recognition preferences

Share with your manager and supervisors what some of your likes and dislikes are for how you want to be recognized. It’s alright to express that you don’t like public presentation of recognition, if that is the case. Tell them the things that are important to you – favorite drinks, foods, sports, family needs and after work interests. A manager informed and prepared can more easily demonstrate meaningful recognition.

Be a positive example where you work

Start looking for opportunities to express appreciation to your colleagues on the floor or throughout the department. Be a “good finder” by just looking for good things going on and by making positive statements to those who help you with patient care activities; fill a medical order on your behalf; or finish off an assignment when you were called away.

When wanting to give better recognition…be specific.

Our research has shown the more specific you can be with recognition giving the better it feels and motivates a person. Strive to cut out generalities such as just saying “well done” or “good job”. When being specific use the “two-part specificity rule”, namely, specifically tell a person what they did and tell them specifically how what they did made a difference – to you, a patient or your healthcare facility.

By simply creating a more gratitude oriented mindset and showing genuine care and expressing recognition to one another, you will not only create a more positive to place to work at you will likely help yourself and your colleagues have a healthier life as well.

About The Author

Roy Saunderson is President of Recognition Management Institute, a division of Rideau, Inc. https://rideau.com/recognition-management-institute and author of Giving the Recognition Way. Saunderson is a global consultant and management trainer for companies on improving employee motivation that leads to optimizing productivity, efficiency, and initiative in the workforce. Listen to him weekly on Real Recognition Radio http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vshow.aspx?sid=1688 and send your comments to [email protected]