The 5 Essentials of Employee Recognition

by / Thursday, 14 July 2022 / Published in Tools


We are all keenly aware of how brief moments of employee recognition can uplift individuals. In fact, studies show that acts of gratitude can lead to increased optimism, better social bonds, and physical health benefits. In the workplace, this means that employee recognition can lead to improved employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and a shift in organizational culture.

Here are 5 essentials of employee recognition to showcase gratitude through acknowledging, thanking, and highlighting the efforts of your employees, peers, and managers.


1. Make employee recognition PERSONAL

At its core, healthcare is about human beings caring for human beings, so it makes sense that those who opted for a career in this field would be motivated by knowing that their efforts made a difference in someone’s life. The easiest way to elevate employee recognition is to make it personal. Whether you take the time to send a handwritten note to a colleague or share comments from patient surveys expressing gratitude to a specific staff member, employee recognition is improved when each individual feels recognized.

2. Make employee recognition SPECIFIC

Details matter. Generic recognition for an individual who embodies the values of person-centered care will not mean as much as identifying the specific behaviors or attitudes that reflect those values. An example of this is sharing the details in a patient testimonial that reinforce to all staff what matters most to patients, families, and fellow employees. This establishes the organizational expectations for what person-centered excellence looks like in practice.

3. Keep employee recognition SIMPLE

In today’s busy, and at times chaotic, environment, it is important to keep employee recognition simple while keeping it timely. For employees to receive the positive results of gracious comments or actions, they need to remember the behavior that evoked that response. Whenever possible, strive for in-the-moment appreciation. Be prepared to “catch people in the act” of excellence through simple programs, like those in this quick and easy recognition toolkit. And remember – unsolicited and unexpected praise is the kind of simple recognition that many employees crave – and it costs nothing.

4. Make employee recognition INCLUSIVE

A general rule of thumb for any effective employee recognition program is that it must extend to all employees. No one caregiver is more valuable than another, and therefore no one should be excluded from recognition based upon role. Genuine and heartfelt praise is felt at every level of an organization and is a driving force when developing and maintaining cultures of caring.

5. Keep employee recognition REAL

The most effective approaches to employee recognition straddle the line between reserving recognition for acts of extraordinary accomplishment, and over-acknowledgement. Over-recognition for the completion of routine tasks can dilute a culture of gratitude, making the recognition for going above and beyond feel less valuable. With that said, we must also be cautious of making recognition unattainable. The solution to this is to acknowledge individuals who approach their daily tasks and responsibilities with a consistent commitment to excellence. Kindness, compassion, respect, and attention to detail can make a profound difference in patient, family, and staff experience.

Consider your organization’s employee recognition systems and ask yourself these three questions:
1) Do your employee recognition programs incorporate these 5 tools?
2) When was the last time you expressed gratitude or praise to a colleague for everyday excellence?
3) What are you waiting for?
For additional information on introducing successful employee recognition programs that drive cultures of caring at your organization contact Planetree today.

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