3 simple ways to recognize your staff—without breaking a sweat (or the bank)

by Kate Vonderhaar and Micha'le Simmons

Nobody has to convince health care managers that recognition is key to driving employee engagement. The challenge is in helping managers find the time to recognize their employees consistently.

How to improve employee recognition and engagement with leadership rounds

Fortunately, recognizing staff doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming—and it can cost little to nothing. Here are three simple techniques that you can embed into your routine, based on our work with the hundreds of organizations that use Advisory Board's engagement survey.

For full details and 17 more easy-to-use tools, members of the HR Advancement Center can download our full Manager's Guide to Engaging Staff, or sign up to join our November 6th webconference on best practices for engaging your staff.

(1) Build a ready-to-use 'thank-you note toolbox.'

Employees always appreciate in-the-moment verbal recognition, but a handwritten note mailed to a staff member's home can go even further to make someone feel valued and recognized.

Of course, many managers aspire to regularly share personal notes to thank staff for their work. But in the real world, it's all too easy to put off writing the notes, especially if managers have to hunt for stamps, note cards, and their employees' addresses.

The solution is to build recognition into your routine by creating a simple toolbox that includes all of the supplies you need to create handwritten thank-you notes. Senior leaders can chip in by helping assemble the kits for managers along with quick tips on how to write meaningful notes.

(2) Set a specific, short-term team goal, and reward staff for nailing it.

Managers want to celebrate their team's performance—as they should! But too often, they reward staff for one-off accomplishments that may or may not accurately reflect the team's performance. As a result, teams rarely know what they need to do to earn recognition.

A better approach is to clearly define short-term goals with staff in advance. To get you started, we've assembled a list of suggested team goals—ranging from the rates of specific hospital-acquired infections to percentages of co-pays collected, depending on your team's focus—along with ideas for meaningful rewards.

Rewards don't have to be monetary; even an option to wear jeans on Friday can work. The most important part is that your team knows their goal is in advance so they know exactly what they need to do to be recognized.

(3) Offer a 'compliment jar' to make it easy for peers to recognize each other.

Managers don't have to be the sole source of recognition. Recognition from peers is also meaningful to staff.

An easy way to encourage peer recognition is to set out a "compliment jar" in a high-traffic area in their unit or department, along with slips of paper for staff to share positive feedback about their peers.

Teams can kick off or close meetings by reading the collected compliments aloud—a great way to publicly recognize individual staff, and to encourage everyone to stay on the lookout for peer behavior to celebrate.

Learn more about how to engage your staff

To learn more about these tools and others that help managers engage staff, HR Advancement Center members, join our webconference on Monday, November 6th.

Register for the Webconference

Next in the Daily Briefing

Around the nation: Utah nurse settles arrest case for $500K

Read now