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Don't wait to say 'thanks!'
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When you landed your first nursing leadership position you probably remember the goals you set, how hard you worked on them and the successes and failures you experienced.
Maybe yours were similar to the ones I had when I
first became a manager
. Three that come to mind are promoting employee engagement, creating a positive work environment and working to make my department the best for patients and staff.
By Eileen P. Williamson
Looking back now I see a thread that ran through all of them: recognition. For instance, employee engagement calls for being inclusive of all staff members, starting with each new employee on the first day of work.
The second goal, creating a positive work environment, requires getting to know our employees and treating each one as a meaningful and important part of the organization.
Succeeding at making the unit or department the best it can be, the third goal, demands that staff and patient needs are not only recognized, but also met. It means providing excellent care and making staff satisfaction, which leads to patient satisfaction, a top priority.
Recognition should go beyond a thank you
, a testimony or a speech at an employee meeting. It needs to happen in small, everyday ways.
Weave recognition into your goals
How to provide regular appreciation
As nurse leaders, what should we know about recognition and what should we be doing about it? Every employee wants to be welcome, known, needed and appreciated.
Members of the leadership team should be engaging each employee in the company mission and work on enculturating and onboarding the moment a new employee starts his first shift.
Just as we work on the pieces of a patient care plan or an organizational budget, so too should we work on how we’re going to recognize our greatest resource, our employees. Employee satisfaction doesn’t just happen; it needs to be thought about and given the attention it deserves.
Quality, finances and outcomes are vital to a healthcare organization’s success and the bottom line, but the people on the front line are just as important. We can demonstrate our belief in that by keeping the word recognition in mind all the time.
Happy employees make organizations great, and happiness can be created in small but important ways.
  • Stop by a unit or two each week with no agenda other than to say hello and see how they are doing. Employees want leadership to know they are there.
  • Create informal recognition programs that celebrate all seasons and reasons. When this is done, employees are more engaged, more involved and more fulfilled.
The celebrations of excellence that happen during National Nurses Week make this a great time for leaders everywhere to think about how we can recognize our nurses and other healthcare professionals all year-long.

Let's get started on the plan; what nurses do is too important and too valuable to ever stop. Happy National Nurses Week!
Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, is a freelancer writer for and serves
in an advisory role.
As nurse leaders, what should we know about recognition and what should we be doing about it? Every employee wants to be welcome, known, needed and appreciated."
- Eileen Williamson, RN
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