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The Rising Case for Healthcare Recognition Programs

healthcare recognition blog

Companies around the world choose formal recognition programs within their organizations in order to attract, retain, engage, and reward their staff. Within the healthcare industry – a sector where success is largely dependent on the quality of care provided by employees – the significance and impact of healthcare recognition programs becomes even greater.

With heightened hospital capacities coupled with rising demands for quality of care and, healthcare networks globally are grappling with meeting soaring demands amid historically low operating budgets and rising costs. 

Enhancing caregiver recognition is not an expected cure for the challenges currently faced in the healthcare profession, formal healthcare recognition programs for rewards and recognition are being turned to as a key piece in the puzzle.

Here are some of the key factors driving a rising need for caregiver recognition.

Burnout is Real

Any organization with sizable staff will have a standard expectation of employee recognition, if anything simply to keep up with the competition and provide recognition in the wake of staff burnout. Common Healthcare recognition programs like Years of Service awards, Birthday acknowledgement, and a regular stream of thanks for showcasing core values help serve a cornerstone of employee engagement.. But these table stakes alone might not combat caregiver burnout problems. Environmental forces and new pressures are demanding most HR leaders in healthcare do more than encourage basic recognition and engagement within their organization, but call for them to solve real organizational pains around core issues like productivity and burnout avoidance.

In the unprecedented period of COVID-19, nurse burnout became a more real issue than ever. Studies show that during this period saw rises in the overall prevalence of emotional exhaustion in nurses and depersonalization, as well as a lack of personal accomplishment.

Employee appreciation leads to improved employee engagement. Having an engaged workforce is known to significantly boost productivity which is seen in organizations with highly engaged employees that report up to 22% higher productivity.

Healthcare Has a Turnover Problem

Healthcare market analysts at Becker’s Hospital Review report that that turnover in the healthcare vertical is bad and getting worse. Turnover in healthcare is second worst only to hospitality. This problem comes with a cost. Physician turnover alone can reach as high as $1 million per role, Recruiting Physicians Today. The average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $40,038 which ranges from $28,400 all the way up to $51,700. This results in the average hospital losing between $3.6m – $6.5m per year to churn replacement cost. 

While turnover rates of different roles within the healthcare sector vary, many signal dramatically high rates, some roles edging over 35% turnover rate. With an average turnover in the U.S. is about 13% annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, that places Healthcare in dramatic terrain. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNAs) have seen recent turnover rates of 27.7%, while other roles like Physician Assistant (PAs) have seen 14.2% churn and Patient Care Techs (PCT) have shown 19.3% turnover.

Lack of recognition and engagement contributed to 44% of employees changing jobs. More than 91% of HR professionals believe that recognition and reward make employees more likely to stay.

Cultural Connections are Even More Challenging

Healthcare has seen a heightened and increasing level of deal activity, driving industry consolidation in recent years. These mergers and acquisitions often result in the combining of  staff from different environments under one roof – all at a time when pressure is high. Mergers and acquisitions have contributed to a landscape of “system concentration,” in which 72% of U.S. hospitals – and upwards of 90% of hospital beds now fall under a health care system rather than an independent facility. With various healthcare entities and their separate cultures assimilating, centralizing the employee culture and staff connections across organizational lines has become a greater and more daunting task for HR administrators than ever before. This all creates a greater need to centralize an environment for social engagement, communication, and recognition. 

Satisfied Caregivers Means Satisfied Patients

Caregiver recognition is not only an endeavor to solicit feedback and recognition from peers and managers, but from  patients as well.  Employee recognition and patient satisfaction are strongly aligned in that quality care being provided to patients depends on engaged and motivated caregivers. While regular interactions with patients can be quite organically rewarding for many healthcare workers, the stressful nature of the work can still wear down on staff. This is especially true in times of heightened capacity and sudden surges, which may require more intense care and limited resources. Caregiver sat directly drives quality of care, which in turn drives patient sat which directly effects HCAHPS results.

A good recognition system within healthcare should also involve the patients. By giving patients a voice and allowing them the opportunity to recognize the caregiver(s), custodians, nurses, or even a valet parking attendant who made their experience rewarding, that moment is reinforced, recognized, rewarded … and then repeated​​​​​​​!

Attracting Staff is More Important Than Ever

In order to retain employees, healthcare systems must first attract them. This is made more challenging in a competitive healthcare market currently suffering a labor shortage. Employment opportunities for nurses, for instance, are projected to grow at a rate 15% higher than all other occupations measured from 2016 through 2026. Which, according to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics currently warrants roughly 11 million additional nurses in the market to deter a shortage. According to The American Nurses Association (ANA), there will be more registered nurse jobs available through the end of 2022 than any other profession in the United States. 

It behooves leading hospital systems  to invest efforts in becoming more attractive to good talent in a competitive market place. 

Quantum Workforce asserts that a staggering 79% of employees quit because they don’t feel actively appreciated. This creates a reality where new candidates may be on the hunt for an active culture of recognition and appreciation in their next employers.

Patient Mortality Can Actually be Improved

There aren’t likely many industry sectors where the employee’s happiness can increase the mortality rate of the customer. Healthcare, however, seems to be one of them. A Gallup study has linked higher nurse engagement to a reduction in medical errors, which correlates directly to patient mortality rates. The study concluded that ​​”nurse engagement is the number one predictor of mortality variation across hospitals,” and continued that “a rise in engagement scores has been proven to help reduce medical errors by 32%.” 

It’s becoming firmly supported and widely accepted that hospital cultures who foster great communication, recognition, and engagement are environments in which fewer mistakes are made. That’s good for both caregivers and their patients.

See more in the brand new Healthcare Recognition Playbook

WorkStride is a leading provider of reward programs for leading brands, including programs for employee engagement and channel sales performance. Our healthcare recognition programs are vital to the culture of some of the country’s top hospital networks and clinics. Learn more about our healthcare recognition programs.

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