The following is an excerpt from Essential Skills for Nurse Managers .
Put aside all the tips and tools for retention for a moment and remember this:
Of 1,500 nurses surveyed, their #1 incentive was noted to be personal recognition by their manager.
Imagine you are a staff member who helped out the department by covering an extra shift due to a sick call. Sure, at the end of the pay period they will be smiling with the overtime in their check. Do you know what will make them smile just as much, or for some even more? If the next time they worked an envelope was in their mailbox or locker and inside was a single wrapped life saver with a note signed by their manager that simply read:
- Many thanks for helping out by picking up the extra shift. You are a life saver!
After much conflict in the department related to precepting issues and a lack of interest among the staff to contribute to the ongoing educational needs of the new graduate staff, one employee stepped forward to offer to assist. He understood there was no extra pay differential for taking on this challenge when he agreed to the role. However, that did not matter because he found in his locker an envelope with a single wrapped “treasures” chocolate candy and a note from the manager that read:
- Many thanks for volunteering to work with our new grads—we treasure you as part of our team!
Sometimes a trip down the candy aisle at the grocery store with a pad of paper is not about the eating; instead, it is about creating a memorable message that means something to an employee. Be sure that part of your retention strategies include your “shining stars.” Many managers assume these high-level performers do not need or desire recognition or praise; this is far from the truth. They may want to be recognized in different ways from the rest of the staff, but they still deserve to be reminded of the vital role they hold in the department. Sometimes the employees we desire to hold on to the most are the ones for which we use the least retention efforts. Do not make this mistake and be alert to the fact that many assumptions are made about top performers.
Rewards for employees should match and be in line with how and what they contribute to the department/organization. Just because employees perform well does not mean they are easy to get along with, welcoming to new hires, etc. And always remember that current performance may not be an indicator for future potential in a “shining star” Schmidt (2010). Be sure to balance your attention and recognition efforts among all of the team members, shining stars or not.