Hospital Workforce Recognition: Top Ways Employee Recognition Will Increase Engagement and Retention

Updated on August 28, 2023

By Peter W. Hart

In today’s healthcare and hospital workforce environments, staying competitive and compliant requires a focused and motivated workforce. Keeping all employees motivated and engaged  from administrators to physicians and nurses to technicians and support staff is essential for optimal patient care and profitability.  Yet, the rapid pace of healthcare reform with short and long-term changes in regulations, compliance, research, and consumer concerns requires high morale from the entire organization and all of the external moving parts to achieve optimal growth, purpose and profitability.

Over 90% of North American companies have “recognition” programs. But, according to surveys, more than 60% of their employees don’t feel recognized. This significant disconnect must be addressed immediately or the consequences will hit companies hard.  According to a recent Deloitte Talent Edge 2020 study, employers are at risk of losing their top talent and the unfortunate truth is that this exodus is hitting organizations at the same time as predicted talent shortages are projected.

Today, the world’s best organizations treat recognition as a critical business process, closely tied to improving employee retention, engagement, and performance. Companies deciding whether to launch an employee recognition program or improving an existing one should consider the following approach, tips and techniques. Below are the top tips for recognition to increase engagement while positively impacting retention.

Make recognition a strategic priority.  Supervisors need to be trained on the merits of employee appreciation and given suggestions and methods to put the practices into action. Managers must be made aware that meeting and exceeding their deliverables and quotas is directly linked to the employee satisfaction of their teams. It is essential that executive staff communicate the importance as well, so that all managers take employee recognition seriously and deploy it on a day to day basis and not just monthly, quarterly or annually.

Make it purposeful.. Did a manager notice how an employee handled a difficult situation? How about their excellent interactions with patients or other staff? Managers should take note of daily working behaviors with both patients and colleagues and recognize these actions in addition to customer service and performance goals.

Define the targets carefully. Recognition will fall flat if employees don’t know the business objectives being recognized and their roles in achieving those objectives. Make sure the rules are clearly spelled out for expected employee behaviors and overall performance expectations.

Celebrate with others. Not all recognition needs to be based on individual performance. Make time to celebrate team achievements and project goals reached as a group. Whether sharing a pizza, cookies or a lunch together, foster camaraderie among employees.

Build peer to peer recognition. Supervisors can’t see everything going on in order to recognize everyone. All employees should be encouraged to be on the look-out for exemplary actions and to nominate their colleagues for incentives.

Instant results merit instant recognition. Make a big deal out of every occurrence of goal achievement and highlight those achievements in staff meetings. Remember, re-energizing and re-fueling is critical for a positive attitude and a dedicated workforce.

Just because.  All employees must show up to get paid – but their attitude while on the job can be influenced by managers.  Assure that managers have sufficient budgets to maintain the positive flow of everyday recognition events and activities. Managers can handout chocolate bars, soda & snacks, or movie tickets as tokens of appreciation and to show support for employees’ steady performance and commitment to the company’s success.

Constant positive feedback.  Whether it is work done by an individual or exceeding benchmarks as a group – announce it like a winning touchdown to keep the momentum going and reinforce team spirit. Managers should stroll the maze of cubicles, offices, and floors and make time to give genuine pats on the back and positive verbal feedback for what employees are doing well. Everyone appreciates a “thank you!”

Peter Hart is President & CEO of Rideau Recognition Solutions ( and has been advising and serving the industry for over 20 years. He can be reached at [email protected].

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