Each year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) commemorates National Nurses Month in May to honor the varying roles of nurses and their unwavering commitment to patients, their communities and our healthcare systems. For 2023, the ANA has selected the tagline You Make a Difference, with each week of the month-long nursing recognition focusing on the themes of self-care, recognition of fellow nurses, professional development and community engagement. To promote these themes, join us for a month-long TESU Blog series contributed by our nursing course mentors. Week 2 focuses on recognition by honoring the work of nurses who lead, excel and innovate in both our healthcare systems and communities.
Simply put, the pandemic was a difficult time for our world. And, at the forefront of this difficult time, were our healthcare workers. The challenges they experienced taking care of the most vulnerable of our population were too numerous to count. It is no doubt it was these workers on the frontlines that made all the difference in where we are today.
Now, with the pandemic behind us, our healthcare workers are still nobly stepping up to the task to ensure the safety and health of their patients in the face of multifaceted changes to the profession. Despite the open recognition shown during the pandemic, I can’t help but think of one question – was it enough? Sure, there is no way to quantify recognition, and if you ask any of those professionals who sacrificed so much at the height of the pandemic, most will respond that they were just doing their job. However, I truly feel they are real modern-day heroes, and they deserve continued recognition and appreciation from all of us.
Why is Recognition Important?
It’s important to understand the role and power recognition plays in the workplace. Recognizing someone — whether a nurse, employee or another colleague — is always a powerful gesture. According to a recent Gallup workplace survey, meaningful recognition and praise in the workplace motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition boosts employee engagement and has also been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the organization, thereby leading to higher employee retention.
Think about the time you received meaningful and memorable recognition at work. How did you feel?
When I was nominated for an Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award by a student I taught at a New York university, I was ecstatic. It felt particularly empowering considering that the courses I teach are online. In the past, I received recognitions and awards in nursing education during face-to-face teachings both in clinical and academic settings, but this recognition left me more fulfilled and accomplished. It renewed my passion and commitment to teaching. It reinforced that I will and want to always be an educator.
How Can We Show Recognition?
For recognition to be meaningful, we must thank or acknowledge that person in such a way that it becomes valuable and memorable.
Although recognition often singles people out, it can also honor a group’s effort. When recognition is addressed to a group, it reinforces the importance of being part of and working as a unit or a team. For example, Magnet Recognition for a hospital is a group effort.
There are four well-known methods of recognition: public recognition, private recognition, monetary award and promotional recognition or rewards. Examples of recognition include:
- Handwritten Thank You notes
- Celebrating employee work anniversaries
- Presenting President’s/Chairman’s awards
- Giving monthly or end-of-year bonuses
The setting where recognition is given — and particularly who is present — can be as important as the recognition itself. While private recognition is often described as personal and meaningful, public recognition has unique benefits in building a culture of recognition and praise. Visible displays of recognition showcase an employee’s value and foster a culture of positivity. When people witness recognition, they often extend it themselves, resulting in a ripple effect that can be felt throughout an organization.
Recognition is powerful. Whether it’s a nurse receiving gratitude from a patient or patient’s family member or an employee receiving praise from a leader or colleague, recognition can make a difference. With that, I challenge you to practice a culture of recognition in your workplace or professional life by offering genuine praise or gratitude for a job well done. You make a difference.