RX for Healthcare Employee Engagement

Updated on August 28, 2023

Kimberly AbelBy Kimberly Abel

No industry is currently having more disruption than the healthcare industry. Yet while healthcare providers are morphing and transforming their businesses by the minute to accommodate the Affordable Healthcare Act, and legislators continue to debate the implications of the massive changes – the expectations for healthcare employees remains the same –stay focused, be engaged, work harder and smarter.  But, how? How can we expect our employees to go on as usual when something so unusual is going on?

Start by saying thanks.  From supervisors to support staff – saying thanks for a job well done will increase morale and performance. But while department chiefs and C-level execs always have good intentions – actually knowing how to effectively show gratitude across a large, multi-generational, diverse workforce isn’t always easy. The science of human behavior tells us that people are both rational and emotional.  The emotional side of our brain is wired to respond to appreciation.  The emotional side of our brain is what connects us to people, teams and organizations.  Showing sincere, personal appreciation is appropriate and important especially in an industry experiencing so many upheavals.

No matter their role:  lab technicians, nurses, medical assistants, administrators, dietitians, physicians, administrative assistants, people want and need to feel valued and be thanked for the work they do.  And study after study shows that employee satisfaction is required for patient satisfaction and both are required for strong business performance.

Getting started with a workforce recognition solution doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be complex.  Start small, build a strong cultural foundation and keep improving over time.  Here is a basic RX prescription to follow:

Keep recognition timely, personal and meaningful

–Recognition should be timely, personal and reflect who the employee is and what
–Make it easy by empowering managers, front-line peers and patients to provide recognition on-the-spot when they have a great experience or witness great work

Provide choice, value and selection of rewards

–Enable employees to select from a menu of reward options that include trusted brands and strong value,

–Go for employee delight, provide a vast selection of potential rewards to choose from

Be sure recognition is commensurate with performance

–Assess the level of effort required and if the performance was outside the scope of normal job expectations

–Evaluate the impact to the organization, including how the patient experience was affected

Celebrate and socialize

— Celebrate internally with a team lunch or dinner

—  Socialize within the organization by sharing accomplishments through social media, newsletters, or a company-wide meeting

Employees who are appreciated are more engaged and engaged employees perform better, boosting health care quality and business results.  Thus, in addition to the benefits of increased retention, attracting top talent, and lower operating costs, health care leaders can include “quality of patient care” to the list of “why it’s important to have satisfied, happy employees”.

Kimberly Abel is the Vice President, Employee Solutions for Maritz Motivation Solutions www.Maritz.com, responsible for developing and communicating the company’s thought leadership and point of view on workforce performance and employee recognition solutions. Her clients have repeatedly won national awards for their solutions including strategy, communications, training, certification programs, events and measurement methodologies. She can be reached at [email protected].


Workforce recognition can be realized with one, several or a complete portfolio of programs.  Examples include:

Getting Started: How to Leverage Performance Based Recognition Systems in Healthcare
14 Ways to Tell Employees They Matter and Are Important

▪ Milestone Recognition

▪ Life Celebrations

▪ Early Engagement – Onboarding

▪ Employee Referrals

▪ Performance Behaviors

▪ Performance Outcomes

▪ Quality

▪ Organizational Achievements

▪ Patient Commendations/Compliments

▪ Wellness

▪ Team/Project Excellence

▪ Bright Ideas

▪ Hand-washing observations

▪ Press Ganey Scores

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Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.