Celebrate Your Nursing Staff: Creative Ideas to Show Appreciation Now and Throughout the Year

With so much being shouldered by nurses and frontline healthcare professionals over the past few years, you and your nursing staff need a solid foundation of strength and support to carry on.

Nursing staff shortages and the added stress and churn spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic puts a sharp focus on the need for continued investment in the well-being of nursing staff. Historically, Nurses Month has provided an excellent anchor point for efforts to show gratitude and appreciation, with many tried-and-true approaches like catered meals and appreciation events taking place throughout the week.

Given the fact that the demanding nature of a nurse’s work doesn’t stop, organizations may want to consider not limiting investments into their nursing staff’s well-being and professional development to just one week. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate nurses and bolster staff morale through Nurses Month and beyond, here are six practical ways to extend this recognition and appreciation all year long.

6 practical ways to support and celebrate your nursing staff all year long

1. Recognizing individual and team achievements

Consistently celebrating nursing wins is one of the best ways to ensure good work continues in the future. This recognition can come in a variety of forms—whether it’s a simple and earnest “thank you” spoken from leadership at the end of a shift, a bulletin board showcasing employee training and education achievements or organization-wide email updates that outline and celebrate the hard work and commitment of nursing staff.

It’s a minor investment in effort, but consistently taking the time to genuinely express gratitude and showcase accomplishments, big or small, can help keep morale strong by building a culture of appreciation.

2. Offering career advancement pathways

Organizations that provide nursing staff with clear policies and pathways toward advancement or professional growth create a workplace culture that values continued development. Make sure nursing staff at every level have a clear picture of what’s required in terms of education and training for them to take the next step in their career—and help facilitate those steps!

Healthcare organizations that provide this information as early as possible in the onboarding process are equipping their nursing talent with the tools needed to sustain a good career path. When your nursing staff has a clear grasp of what roles lay ahead of them, they can envision themselves in the future as part of your organization.

3. Promoting mental health and other wellness support

Nurses understand the key role mental health can play in patient healing and recovery, but it’s easy to overlook it in their own lives. Let your nursing staff know that their mental well-being matters by offering wellness programs and policies to promote better functioning and frame of mind as well as encouraging and reminding them to take advantage of the available services and opportunities.

The nursing profession is made up of strong people who are dedicated to caring for others, which makes the self-care and nurturing of nurses even more important. From yoga classes specially designed for nurses, fitness incentives and equipment to drop-in counseling, ongoing mental health awareness initiatives and meditation apps, it's important to show how much you value your nursing staff, through mind and body.

4. Providing educational benefits options

Perhaps the best way to communicate to your nurses that you are with them for the long haul is to provide them with comprehensive educational benefits that support them in their goals to gain new skills and develop as nurses across your organization. Aligning your educational benefits with the pathways unique to your organization also keeps a pipeline of talent at the ready, while also attracting and retaining nursing staff.

5. Fostering mentorship opportunities

Nursing is a team sport, which makes it even more important to foster a workplace where mentorship matters. Nursing teams with good morale are ones where new or beginning nurses can get advice and support from established nurses. Your star performers will often seek out mentors naturally but making mentorship a common part of your onboarding and advancement pathway is how you create a thriving and vibrant environment that others seek to join.

6. Developing an employee-nominated rewards program

Supervisors and managers providing kudos and praise is vital, but one way to drive engagement and strengthen your nursing staff is to make rewards programs that they directly participate in. Create a system where your staff is encouraged to nominate their peers in recognition of hard work, quick thinking, positive attitude or innovative methods. These kinds of accolades build trust and support among nurses and give supervisors a view of moments they may not have been able to experience firsthand. Rewards can vary from employee of the week or monthly showcases, gift cards, meals and other prizes that your nursing team can select. To see an example of how these kinds of programs can work, check out the Nurses Make a Difference Giveaway, organized by Rasmussen University.

Meaningful appreciation matters

Nurses are called to their work by a desire to help uplift and strengthen those in need of care and healing. Every day, they provide tireless attention to people who are struggling, in pain or otherwise need to get their minds and bodies back on the mend—and that’s something we can all appreciate.

Positioning your nursing staff for professional growth with education benefits is one excellent way for employers to show they’re invested—and Rasmussen University can help make that happen. For details, or to request information about becoming a Rasmussen University alliance, visit: rasmussen.edu/workforce-connections.