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Employee Appreciation and Positive Recognition in the Workplace

Most managers understand the importance of recruiting highly trained, compassionate, dedicated staff members to senior living communities. Attracting those valuable workers is only the beginning. Keeping them engaged and content in your community — and discouraging heeding the siren call of greener pastures — is an ongoing battle.

The costs of recruiting and training new staff members can quickly deplete your human resources budget. For your hardest-to-fill positions, competitive salaries and benefits packages are likely non-negotiable, but another form of currency — public appreciation and recognition — also can play a role in retaining your star team members.

As management practices have evolved over the decades, formal recognition programs have become a key component of workplace culture. We all crave appreciation and acknowledgment, and your employees will respond positively when you affirm that you value their work.

March is the perfect time to review your employee appreciation program, since National Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday of the month. By prioritizing employee recognition, you thank your team for their hard work throughout the year and motivate them to give their best efforts.

What should you know about employee appreciation, and how can you create a culture of positive recognition in your community?

Not All Employers Embrace Recognition

Some employers remain unconvinced of the value of formal employee recognition programs. Creating such programs can be time-consuming and costly, and many executives feel that recognition is a luxury they can’t afford.

In some cases, recognition programs can breed jealousy among team members who feel left out or overlooked. Programs may be poorly designed or executed, and they may leave honored employees feeling shortchanged for their efforts on the job.

While recognition programs take work and planning to set up — and must be personalized to your organization and your team — they offer clear benefits.

The Importance of Showing Appreciation in the Workplace

Why should you commit to publicly recognizing team members’ contributions? By thanking your workers and acknowledging their efforts, you build personal relationships that can pay off with employee longevity and dedication. Caring, loyal workers act as ambassadors for your community and provide the best possible experiences for your residents and their loved ones.

In addition, you can consider your employee recognition efforts as an extension of your public relations program. Recognizing great employees on a periodic basis provides you with an opportunity to communicate about your talented staff with residents, prospective residents and their families. When you recognize employees, you’ll want to share the information through your website and your social media platforms.

Designing the Ideal Appreciation Program for Your Community

How can you create a recognition program that effectively expresses your appreciation for extraordinary efforts by team members?

First, you’ll need to establish what constitutes exceptional performance in every area of your community. Consider the job responsibilities of your dining and activities staff members, resident services personnel, nurses and nursing assistants, medication techs, housekeepers, marketing staff and others. How do employees in each of these areas go above and beyond their everyday duties?

Once you’ve established criteria for recognition, create a written plan, including a schedule for giving formal recognition to employees. Next, consider the ways in which you will show appreciation for employees, and include some or all of the following components:

  • A name for your program. Whether you call it Employees of the Month, Star Employees or a name of your choosing, by branding your program, you create additional pride among the recipients and a desire for inclusion among other team members.
  • A handwritten thank-you note from your CEO. Receiving a personalized note, with details about the employee’s specific contributions, means a lot. Especially in large organizations, many workers doubt that the CEO knows their names, and most will be delighted with a personal expression of gratitude for their contributions.
  • Public acknowledgment. Periodically — whether monthly or quarterly — recognize your star employees in a public forum. Consider announcing the winners in a resident assembly and an employee meeting. In addition, communicate about the winners — including a brief biographical blurb — in your newsletter, website and social media.
  • Parties or other special events. Once a quarter, consider a pizza party or other special meal for all employees to recognize employee contributions.
  • A physical gift, which can consist of cash or a gift card, along with a branded item representing your community.

Most importantly, you want to create a culture that encourages workers to go beyond their job descriptions. With a well-planned employee recognition program, you can express your gratitude for team members who make exceptional effort — and encourage others to follow suit.