Recognition Quick Tips

Recognition doesn’t have to take a lot of time, or cost a lot of money. Try some of these ideas.

Make it personal.
Recognition is most impactful when it’s personal. A few kind words from a co-worker, a handwritten note from a supervisor, or a batch of homemade cookies can go a lot further than a gift card mailed from corporate (although that’s nice, too). Whenever possible, customize recognition to the recipient by finding out what motivates them, and tailoring efforts to be more personal.

Be specific with praise.
While all recognition is good, complimenting specific actions and attitudes is more effective than general praise. For example, instead of saying “Great job today,” try “Thanks for explaining that procedure to the customer in such an easy-to-understand and compassionate way. They mentioned how helpful you were after you left the room.”

Don’t wait too long to say thanks.
The sooner you recognize an achievement or effort, the more meaningful the recognition will be. When you see someone who deserves praise, let them know right away rather than waiting for a reason to send an accolade.

Mix things up.
Have a mix of formal recognition strategies, such as planned dates and team member of the Month awards, and informal recognition efforts, such as impromptu Thank you cards and pats on the back. Also, be sure to get the whole team involved—not just leadership. The ideas below are categorized by peer recognition and manager recognition efforts, as well as formal and informal strategies. Choose ideas from each category to create a balanced recognition program.

Keep it simple.
There are many ideas below—but there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed. Keep things simple and choose one or two ideas that resonate with you to get started. When you’re ready to try something different, you can come back for more.

Be authentic.
A gift or monetary award is great. However, it’s the genuine and authentic appreciation efforts that generally has a longer-lasting impact, such as a hand-written note of appreciation, a verbal callout at a team meeting, or simply pulling someone aside any telling him or her one-on-one how much you appreciate their efforts.


Peer Recognition Tactics

Sometimes the most meaningful commendations come from those who are working right alongside you. The Peer Recognition ideas below are easy to implement, and can create a feeling of camaraderie and support for everyone in your team.

Issue a Thank You challenge.
Pass out Thank You cards to all your team members, and ask them to recognize peers by writing notes of appreciation.

Create a Wall of Fame.
Designate a wall in a break room or shared space as the Wall of Fame for your team members. Ask team members to post accolades, Thank You notes and stories of the great work they see their colleagues doing.

Encourage teamwork.
How can you encourage team members to work together better? By recognizing those team members who are already making an effort to help others. Create a monthly award for team members who help their teammates perform at their best. The winner can receive a trophy or certificate.

Create a Compliment Box.
We’re all familiar with the Comment Boxes many companies use, inviting customers and team members to anonymously share feedback. But what about a Compliment Box, for positive input only? team members can drop in their praise without expecting anything in return—and the cards can be read aloud at staff meetings.

Undercover cheerleader.
Have everyone on your team draw a different person’s name. Over the next week, they’ll act as an “Undercover Cheerleader” for the individual whose name they drew, by covertly delivering Thank You notes, words of encouragement, or small treats each day. At the end of the week, everyone can reveal their true identity—and say thanks to their own cheerleader.


Supervisor / Manager Recognition Tactics

Here is a list of tactics supervisors can use to take an active role in recognition, helping to build a stronger and more effective team.

Formal Recognition Programs:

These ideas are best implemented with thoughtful planning and scheduling, and include traditional recognition strategies like team member of the Month programs and awards celebrations. For day-to-day recognition, see the next section.

Acknowledge milestones and anniversaries.
Workplace anniversaries, promotions, and birthdays are important events in the lives of your team members—and recognizing these events shows them that you value their contributions. Mark important dates on your calendar, and consistently follow through for every team member. Whether you choose to send a card, publish milestones in a company newsletter, or take team members out to lunch, they will appreciate that you cared enough to remember.

Create your own awards.
Awards don’t have to be super-formal. You can create a Cleanest Room Award for Environmental Services, a Top Chef Award for the Dietary Services Staff, or a Most Flexible Award for team members who regularly pick up extra shifts. You can also create awards focused on North Memorial Health’s core values, to recognize team members who exemplify those values in action.

Celebrate new hires, too.
Show new team members that North Memorial values them from day one, and they’re more likely to be around for the long term. Build recognition into the onboarding process by creating tasks that take place with every new hire—such as entering hire dates and birthdates into a recognition database, sending out a Welcome Letter / New Hire Kit, and making it a point to verbally praise great work within the first week of a new hire coming on board your team.

Recognize each department.
Plan recognition efforts for different departments of the clinic. You may want to recognize nursing one week, doctors another week, and administrative care a different week.

Start a committee.
The best way to discover how your team members would prefer to be recognized is to ask them. Create a Recognition Committee to ask for input and ideas, and get feedback on recognition strategies.

Celebrate big achievements.
Did the nursing unit achieve a high quality designation? Has a surgeon earned recognition for an innovative technique? Did the Dietary Services department get top marks in health and nutrition? Whenever an individual or department gets recognized outside the clinical environment, be sure to acknowledge the achievement here at North Memorial, too. Highlighting accomplishments in a company newsletter or press release is a great way to recognize exceptional performance. (And it’s good for PR, too.)

Recognize an Team Member of the Month.
There’s a reason Team Member of the Month programs have been around for years: They work! It’s easy and very inexpensive to start a program like this in your department, and it can increase motivation year-round.

Go over-the-top with trophies.
When you were a kid, you always wanted to fill your trophy shelf, but as adults, we don’t place much value in the cheap, gold-painted-plastic trophies we grew up with. Besides, who says a trophy has to look like a trophy? Bobbleheads, oversized medical props, and gold medals you can wear around your neck can convey recognition in a more fun and memorable way.

Department handbook.
We can all learn a lot from one another. Ask your team members to turn in tips, suggestions, and insights they’ve learned on the job, and use them to create a handbook to print and share with the team.

Don’t rely on HR.
While recognition programs may generally be thought of as “a function of HR,” praise is often most appreciated when it comes from a direct supervisor. Consider creating a Recognition Training Program for management. It could increase the success of your program, even if it’s just a quick meeting going through the resources available on this Recognition website. Organizations that provide manager training have 20% higher program utilization.


Informal/Day-To-Day Recognition:

Team members need recognition on an ongoing basis—and the best recognition programs incorporate both formal and informal, day-to-day ideas. The ideas below are easy to implement and can be used any time throughout the year.

Take a walk.
Every day, take a few minutes to walk the floor and thank team members when you spot them going above and beyond. Make this a daily or weekly practice to achieve the best results.

Don’t forget daily victories.
Even small achievements are worthy of celebration. Sharing a compliment from a customer, praising attention to detail, or noticing a team member’s positive attitude can go a long way.

Write a note.
Handwritten notes and cards can be delivered any time, and are powerful because they come from the heart—and because they can be kept by the recipient and read later. Even better? Writing a note doesn’t cost a thing.

Say Thank You.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Remember to say “thanks” when others do something you appreciate, whether it’s covering an extra shift, or always smiling. There are as many ways to say “Thank you” as there are reasons to say it, such as sending a card, taking an team member out to lunch, or simply saying “Thanks.”

Give a standing ovation.
Want to recognize a team member who’s truly outstanding in a way that’s just a little over-the-top? Gather as many co-workers as you can into a room and have everyone start clapping when your star player enters the room. Top off the applause with a certificate and a short announcement. This is a fun and unique way to give your top staff the star treatment.

Push in a treat cart.
Fill a medical or cleaning cart with treats, like snacks, chips, popcorn, and candy, and push it around the clinic, handing out snacks to the staff as you greet them. If it’s not empty after you’ve made your rounds, wheel it into the break room for afternoon munchies.

Design your own gift.
From customizable coffee mugs, to photo magnets, to team T-shirts and phone cases, it’s now easier than ever to print up something personal that looks super professional. Creating your own designs can make recognition more meaningful.

Get fit together.
Onsite yoga, dance, or fitness classes are a fun way to show team member appreciation—and they’re a perfect fit for healthcare companies. Check out what classes are happening at our on-site fitness centers.

Spin the wheel.
If rewards will be part of your recognition program, you can create a prize wheel to make receiving them even more fun. Write the rewards on the wheel, and let team members who win take a spin.

Create a competition.
Nothing motivates like a little competition. Create contests to inspire high performance, and reward winners.

Pay it forward.
Let team members choose a nonprofit whose mission they support—such as a pet-centered organization for dog lovers, or a medical charity. Then, make a donation in their name to the North Memorial Foundation.

Give group prizes.
Remember when your class had the opportunity to earn a pizza party in school for selling the most candy or bringing in the most box tops? Group motivation still works, whether you go old school (pizza party) or try something new (a catered breakfast).

Quiz the team.
Once a quarter or so, create short quizzes (10 to 15 questions is plenty) for your team to test their knowledge about department practices and determine areas where more focus is needed. Reward perfect scores with small treats like HERSHEY’S KISSES.

Thank the family.
Careers in healthcare are highly rewarding, but they can be tough on family members at times. Late shifts, missed holidays, and the uncertainty of being on call are a stressful but essential part of the important work we do. Let family members of your team members know how much you appreciate the team member’s hard work and dedication—as well as their support at home.

Drink in the compliments.
Many workers carry water bottles to the office—especially in healthcare environments, where there’s a focus on hydration. There are many choices available, from metal or glass bottles to premium insulated bottles, and you can customize them with the North Memorial logo or a team member’s name.

Baby faces.
You see your team members’ faces every day—but could you identify them based on their baby photos? Ask team members to bring in baby pictures and post them on a bulletin board or wall with numbers. Have each team member guess which photo belongs to which team member by writing a number next to each name on a list. You’ll never look at your coworkers the same way again.

Potluck contest.
Make your next company potluck even more enticing with a cook-off to see who can make the best dish. Number each item to make it easy for team members to vote. If you like, you can narrow the contest to a specific dish, such as the classic chili cookoff.