Finding a successful healthcare employee recognition solution has been elusive for many healthcare organizations. Traditionally, recognition programs have tended to focus on length of service and have failed to connect reward and recognition to the well-documented need for meaningful work and more specific types of recognition. This disconnect has frequently left employees feeling under-recognized despite the best efforts of their employers.
Surveying Employees About What Is Meaningful
The WorkHuman Research Institute surveyed more than 2,700 employees. The research made some significant discoveries that can help us better understand the importance of reward and recognition, and it also helps us to understand the relationship between reward and recognition and its impact on employee perceptions regarding meaningful work. Interestingly, this research also establishes a relationship between values-based recognition programs and a more positive overall work experience. So what steps should you take to ensure that your organization’s reward and recognition program really connects the dots between the work and the company’s values? Here are some helpful employee recognition ideas for healthcare:
Align your healthcare employee recognition program with organizational strategy. The Maritz World at Work research reports that fifty percent of reporting organizations had written strategies that supported their recognition programs. Nearly all of those organizations (97%) reported that their recognition strategies aligned with their organizational strategies. This step is foundational to many reward and recognition best practices.
Be specific with recognition. It is simply not possible to tie recognition to your organization’s values in a meaningful way without highlighting a specific action, contribution, or achievement by an employee. Recognizing an employee for 10 years of service is probably important too, but when an employee is recognized for staying late to work with a patient and their family to arrange for a smooth transition to another level of care, that is a great way to show the kind of specific behaviors that bring an organization’s values to life. In addition to being the kind of recognition that will resonate with the employee, it is also useful in helping other employees understand what patient and family-centered care really looks like. When reward and recognition is done well it will provide a great teachable moment for the organization.
Be specific with the reward. Employee research makes it clear that we cannot recognize all employees in precisely the same way. Managers should understand what works best for their employees in terms of incentives for healthcare employees, and they should have input into the different types of recognition that will be part of the program. Public recognition may work well for some employees while mortifying others. A gift card or a note from a manager to an employee’s home may be more effective.
Incorporate peer-to-peer recognition into larger, more formal programs. Employees are much more likely to spot the kinds of behaviors that demonstrate your organization’s values than leaders. This may be particularly true if your organization is large or if managers have a fairly broad span of control. It is the best way to capture those employee contributions that bring our organization’s values to life for both internal and external customers.
Ensure success with leadership education on the issue. More than half of the managers in the World at Work survey reported that they had no training on their organizations reward and recognition program. Online training modules make this an efficient and easy solution for most organizations.
Provide organizational support for your program. Lack of financial and leadership support are the most often-cited reasons for not having a reward and recognition program – or having one that performs poorly. If your reward and recognition program is suffering from failure to thrive syndrome, take some time to evaluate whether the program is appropriately supported financially and well understood by leaders at every level.
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