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Recognition Strategies for Healthcare Providers

Recognition for healthcare providers extends beyond a grateful patient or family. Recognition should include the gratitude of the organization and peers that make great care possible. Building a culture of recognition does not mean there is a bonus on every paycheck, but it does mean that the people at all levels and roles of the organization see their own value and the value of others.

Developing a Recognition Strategy in your healthcare organization comes with many benefits, including:

  • Reaffirm the value as employees
  • Make role models for other co-workers
  • Promote job satisfaction
  • Reduce turnover
  • Improve productivity and patient care

If you do not believe in the culture of recognition, here are some statistics that non-healthcare companies like LinkedIn, Survey Monkey, Achievers, and others have shared the positive impact of recognition.

  • 63% of employees who are recognized say they are very unlikely to look for a new job. 1
  • 40% of employed Americans say they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.2
  • Employees promoted after three years have a 70% possibility of staying with their employer.3
  • 52% of employees feel that their rewards strategy is not aligned with organizational goals.4
  • The lack of recognition and engagement is driving 44% of employees to switch jobs.5
  • Retention is a key objective for 60% of employee recognition programs.5

Sadly, not all organizations implement a culture of recognition or understand how small gestures create a positive change for employees.

We would like to share five recognition strategies that Golden Source Consultants has successfully implemented with our healthcare clients to build a culture of recognition.

1. Align Your Strategy to Your Team.

To establish a successful rewards program, focus on what matters most to the organization. Lean on your core values and vision for success to identify what “exceptional” looks like in your organization.

Next, find out what motivates your team. Ask questions in casual conversation or formally through surveys. Knowing what your team finds inspiring and rewarding will ensure you hit the bullseye with your new program. Here are a few techniques to become an expert in motivating your employees:

  • Leverage A Survey to Know Their Preferences – Surveys can be tricky, as some people may be wary to share information, but they can be a useful way to understand the general trends and tones within your team. If you deploy a survey, be ready to take action on the results. Nothing hurts morale more than an employer who knows but doesn’t act.
  • Schedule One-On-One’s to Follow-up – Understanding the context of feedback you’re receiving or giving individuals a voice to share their individual motivations can be a game-changer when creating your recognition strategy. Come ready to listen and learn.
  • Engage in Informal Conversations with The Team – The simple action of small talk can yield some big insights. Paying attention to the things that make your employees happy enables you to find special ways to recognize each person. A gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, leaving early to spend an extra hour with a visiting relative, or simply the moment to say “I appreciate what you did today” are all the fruit of unscheduled and unscripted conversations.

With your definitions and employee feedback in mind, identify leaders across your organization to define the recognition methods that encourage the desired behavior or outcome for your group. This may be through an award, team celebration, or other small sign of appreciation. Consider if engaging employees across your organization to help nominate team members or vote for the winners is something your organization can easily support and if it may be appropriate for your team.

Finally, roll out your Employee Rewards Program. Be sure to explain the why, linking the reason for each point of recognition to your mission, vision, and values.


After a day of training for our client’s customer service representatives, the team was asked to fill in a survey about their reward preferences. In the survey, Golden Source included open-ended questions to know what employees liked or disliked. We learned three important things from the survey. First, this team enjoyed time together. Second, many of them loved to play sports. Lastly, another significant portion of the team was interested in food. The Product team created the benchmark reward. The challenge for this team was to keep its quality score between 90 to 100 every month. If the team achieved this, they would be rewarded with a bowling and pizza party. As a group, they looked forward to the opportunity to enjoy themselves and to create memories together. The team met their goals consistently and the whole organization benefited as a result.

2. Formal Individual Recognition.

Rewards do not necessarily refer to money. Here are several ideas that are small ways to show your recognition and appreciation for individuals who demonstrate exceptional results every day:

  • Employee of the Month/Year – Setting out clear criteria of what excellence looks like, allows you to formally reward individuals. Giving formal recognition not only accomplishes the goal of making the recipient feel appreciated, but also provides a living example for others to immolate.
  • Celebrate Employees’ Anniversaries – Remembering the important dates of an employee’s service demonstrates you understand their long-standing commitment to your organization.
  • Gift Vouchers – There is no big announcement or ceremony needed to show recognition. A gift voucher given for the coffee shop or a small amount on a gift card that can be spent at a place of the employee’s choice is easy to make available quickly when spontaneous recognition is the ultimate reward.
  • Extra Time Off – For healthcare providers, long shifts are the norm. The gift of time is always seen as the ultimate gift. Whether it’s an ability to earn an extra day off as tenure grows or leave early for the occasional family commitment, demonstrates reciprocity for the contribution of time for those who consistently go above and beyond.

3. Informal Individual Recognition.

While the list of formal recognition methods above should be considered, often the most valuable and effective recognition strategies are available for free and require no time to implement.

  • Send Thank-You Notes to An Employee for Their Outstanding Contribution to Some Project. One provider GSC works with accomplishes this by writing a hand-written holiday card and birthday card for each person on his team. If he’s running short on time, he still tries to send a personal email to the person. In it, he tries to recall one thing he is grateful for about that person and mention it in his note. This intentional action forces him to pay attention to the little contributions of his team each day.
  • Recognize an Employee(s) In Weekly or Monthly Meetings About Their Ideas or Opinions. Another provider GSC works with actively credits members of his team with ideas in front of other practice leadership. “Sally has been working with me on the holiday schedule and has a great idea that I think will really help.” Hearing her lead physician give her credit for the extra work contributed beyond her clinical duties inspires this particular employee to keep working and go beyond the basics.
  • Create A Certificate of Recognition That Could Be Printed or Given Electronically. There’s nothing like being able to share with family, friends, and other professionals about how valued you are by your employer. One organization does this by sharing a short social media post acknowledging the employee and their contribution to the team.

4. Team Recognition.

As the care team model continues to grow, so does the need to go beyond recognizing the individual and recognize the entire team. Celebrating the group wins shows how the combined efforts of the people who work together every day are appreciated and demonstrates the commitment to the whole, not just to a strong individual contributor. Here are some reward strategies for teams.

    • Establishing a Team Tradition – One care team leader GSC works with has established a weekly tradition of bringing in donuts for the team for their weekly team huddle. It’s a small gesture, but he recognized the team’s enjoyment when he did it as a surprise and decided to contribute donuts weekly as a small way to show he values the team.
    • Annual Appreciation Dinners or Holiday Parties – The time to come together as a team and reflect on the accomplishments of a year is important. It gives everyone an opportunity to stand back and look at the big picture and provides a setting where individuals can see each other outside of the office.
    • Team Building Trips – You don’t always have to have a reason to do something nice as a group. Team building trips can be a great opportunity like a sporting event, picnic, ropes course, escape room, or other fun outings can be a chance to be together as a team. This builds community and allows for each person to recognize that while clinical days may be long and challenging, there is more to their job than just work.
    • Volunteer Days – Being able to bring your passion, skills, and values to the causes that matter most is a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity. In addition to bringing awareness of your organization’s mission, vision, and values, Volunteer Days allow the team to live their bigger purpose through your organization.

5. Develop Talent and Skills.

Nothing shows recognition better than a sincere effort to grow and develop another person’s talents and skills. Upon choosing to enter their profession, each provider on the team made a choice to invest time, money, and energy into their professional training. Each understood that this would be a life-long commitment where the learning would never stop. That’s why one of the biggest rewards you can provide a member of your team is an investment in teaching them a new skill or mentoring them as they develop. In a nationwide study GSC conducted, 63% of providers said that they desired professional development opportunities, and of those who said they were extremely happy with where they worked 42% mentioned a leader in their own organization who mentored them as the reason for their job satisfaction.

Here are some comments from real providers who responded to Golden Source Consultants’ inquiry.

Provider A –

“Leaders who came and asked for my opinion makes me feel good because they allowed me to participate and learn from them if I am wrong. I loved when they said: call me if you need me, you got this!”

Provider B –

“Dr. Olan is amazing, teaches you a lot, and he is always available to answer my questions. We have learned so much from him. I always feel that I can learn more from him.”

Provider C –

“I love working together, and I learned so much from Dr. Axel, how she handles difficult situations and leading with the example. It is amazing!”

While the best opportunities for training and mentorship are those that happen organically, building structure to your talent development and mentorship can ensure that opportunities are provided equitably and the organization’s commitment to individual growth is understood.

  • Learning Opportunities Onsite – The ability for an individual to be able to reduce their travel expenses or out-of-pocket for educational credits is a tremendous asset when providers are able to offer training onsite. Additionally, it focuses on skills that individuals or team members have expressed interest in and tie directly to the everyday work.
  • Conference Attendance – The chance to network and learn about emerging trends is a chance most clinicians are eager to experience. When an organization empowers an employee to attend a conference or professional event, it shows trust in the individual and a commitment to the person’s career. The representation of your organization at a professional level is also shared with other providers looking on from the outside. Demonstrating to the future potential talent that you make professional opportunities available sends a powerful message to a talent pool that is seeking constant growth.
  • Mentorship Programs – Having leaders in your organization willing to develop others shows that professional growth is important to your organization. Mentorship can be as formal or informal as your organization chooses. A buddy system to show new team members the ropes, or a mentorship program with formal activities and roles for new leaders considered for promotion.

In conclusion, a recognition strategy for your organization can be a cost-effective and successful way of building a group of providers who are committed to your clinical mission and enthusiastically carry out that mission. Before spending thousands on a new recruiting strategy or paying for overtime to cover critical vacancies, consider how these simple recognition strategies can pay off dividends in your practice.

Learn more about Golden Source Consultants’ Strategy and Training Development Services.


[1] https://www.surveymonkey.com/curiosity/employee-recognition-and-retention/

[2] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/psychology-employee-recognition-vs-reward-jimmy-chebat/?articleId=6716775535093002240

[3] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/internal-mobility-boosts-retention.aspx

[4] https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2016-Employee-Job-Satisfaction-and-Engagement-Report.pdf

[5] https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/rewards-and-recognition/employee-recognition-and-retention-statistics/#:~:text=The%20lack%20of%20recognition%20and,1%20reason.


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