RSSAuthor Archive for Bonnie Clair

Bonnie Clair

Bonnie Clair, MSN, RN currently works as Retention Project Manager at CoxHealth in Springfield, MO. Her clinical background includes nursing management, nursing education administration and neonatal flight team. Her bedside nursing experience is comprised of Med Surg, NeuroScience and 15 years in the NICU. She has facilitated development and implementation of a clinical ladder for staff RNs and worked on a steering committee to implement Shared Governance in her health system. Other recent projects include designating parking spaces close to the hospital for pregnant staff and organizing a bi-monthly reunion event for employees reaching their 90th day of employment. She is passionate about nurse retention and relevant nursing education. You may contact her at

Informal reward ideas!

giraffe_iiEstablish an informal reward that can be passed along. For example, in my department we have a STICKING YOUR NECK OUT AWARD. Every other month or so, someone is given a toy giraffe for going beyond their usual job duties. You can implement this and give a new giraffe each time, or have the recipient choose their successor and pass it along.

To avoid becoming a popularity contest, set some ground rules. For example, no one can win more than twice/year.

Be creative with this ~ A model brain could represent a QUICK THINKING AWARD; a pouch of toy gold coins can indicate YOU’RE SUCH A TREASURE; play money could represent YOUR ACTIONS ARE WORTH A MILLION or even be used to symbolize meeting departmental budget goals.

Please feel free to share some of your own ideas!

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought to be distilled into actions, which bring results.”
Florence Nightingale

“Never settle for average; its as close to the bottom as it is to the top.”

Team building idea!

This is a quick idea you can implement either at the beginning or the end of a staff meeting. The purpose if two-fold: To provide opportunity for staff to identify unit concerns they’d like to see addressed, and To help staff think outside the box for possible solutions.

You Need:
A piece of paper and a pen for each person; a small basket.

What To Do:
Ask each staff member to write a unit problem, issue or concern they’d like help to solve (you may need to describe an acceptable concern that can be addressed by staff).
2) Staff then folds their paper and drops it in the basket.
3) Ask one person to choose a folded paper. Without reading it, ask him/her to hand the paper to someone else.
4) The recipient of the folded paper selects 2 peers with whom he/she would like to work.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until everyone is on a problem-solving team.
6) Allow each team 5 – 10 minutes to compile ideas, suggestions or a soltution for the problem on their paper.
7) Each team has 1 minute to read the problem and describe their intended solution.

To Discuss:
1) Timeline for implementation of the solution(s).
2) Why don’t we think to ask each other for help more often?
3) How can we encourage each other to ask for help when it’s needed?
4) What should we do with the folded papers we didn’t get to today?

A Quote To Ponder:
“Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it will.”
~ Dr. Robert Anthony, PhD.

Proven retention tips!

The simple act of giving THANK YOU notes to staff has proven to be a positive morale builder and an easy-to-use retention tool. Some managers have the “want to” but complain of “writer’s block.” Here are a few tips to get started!

  • Blue or black ink offers a more professional appearance than other colors
  • Begin with the recipient’s name.
  • Say Thank You.
  • Be specific about the behavior or action you’re recognizing:
    • “The extra hours you stayed over to help…”
    • “Your positive attitude in a stressful situation…”
    • “Your willingness to change your schedule…”
    • “Going the extra mile with [patient], [family], [coworker]”
  • Be sure to mention the positive impact of their behavior or action:
    • “Your work/dedication made this project a huge success”
    • “Your creative thinking saved our department time/resources”
    • “Your faithfulness to follow-through is a great example”
  • Connect their behavior to your organizational mission:
    • “Thanks to you, we’re sure to reach our goals!”
    • “Thanks to your efforts, we’re on our way to achieving _____”
  • Say Thank You again.
  • Close your note with a meaningful sign-off:
    • “Keep up the great work, it’s being noticed!”
    • Cheers!
    • Best Regards
  • Sign your name.
  • To add a special flair, consider including a small treat:
    • Peppermint patty or Junior Mints (You’re worth a mint!)
    • Roll of lifesaver candy (You’re a life-saver!)
    • $100,000 bar (Your efforts are priceless!)
    • Hershey’s Nugget (You’re such a treasure to have on staff!)
    • Almond Joy (It’s a joy to work alongside you!)
    • 3 Musketeers (3 cheers for you/your work)
    • Shoestring licorice (Great job in tying together that project!)
    • Payday bar (Your efforts will lead to great return for patients/our department/ [your organization])
    • M & M’s (Thanks for not melting under the pressure)

Quick retention ideas!

This week’s retention ideas:

Suggest that your team create a basket filled with goodies for another department in the hospitaljust to show your appreciation for something they did. Have your entire staff sign the card, they may add comments if they’d like to. The other staff will be shocked and amazed. Other benefits from this one act of kindness may include increased patience & respect between departments, adding value to others’ self-worth, and an improved work relationship!
[Some ideas: snacks such as microwave popcorn, pretzels, m&m’s or cheese crackers; mini cans of soda; a bottle of Excedrin and a bottle of hand lotion]

To increase staff participation and ownership in their staff meetings, post a blank agenda in their lounge a week ahead of each scheduled meeting. Staff can post questions, concerns, or desired discussions. You may even become aware of issues you previously didn’t know about.

Something to ponder this week: 10 years from now, what will your staff remember about you?

Quick, effective retention tip!

Here is a quick tip I have used and found to be highly effective in promoting staff engagement, which is a huge factor in retention:

Ask your DON or VP to stop by and compliment your staff, or a staff member, on something they have accomplished. This lets them know that you have been speaking about them in a positive light to YOUR boss, who is someone they probably don’t see very often!

And here are a couple quotes to bring home the tip:

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”
– Albert Einstein

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”
– Florence Nightingale

Build an engaged team!

If asked, we’d all agree that we want to manage an enthusiastic and engaged team! That’s a tall order to fill, but it isn’t impossible. Here are a couple of quick-fire ideas to get started towards fostering engagement:

Try to identify one learning opportunity for each of your staff.
This doean’t mean that everyone has to attend an expen$ive conference. How about cross-training, one additional departmental responsibility, or a self-study project? A primary characteristic of engaged employees is the feeling of being challenged.

Offer 5 times more praise than correction.
Admittedly, this can be a challenge when considering a low achieving performer. Try to take note of any incremental progress, demonstration of positive behaviors or even a wonderful sense of humor that enables his/her peers to have a few minutes of stress relief!

What ideas do YOU use to foster engagement?

Retention tips!

Here is a quick idea that costs only about 2 minutes of time: Even though you may have thanked an employee at work for something they did “above and beyond”, take the time to call them at home after their shift to thank them again. It’s preferable for you to make the call from your home instead of your office. You may be surprised how far this small gesture can go!

When I originally sent this idea out to managers and administrators in our organization, our COO called me at home! I was not there to receive the call, but he left me a wonderful message saying how much he appreciated the retention ideas I sent out and how much he valued my position within the organization. WOW. I was floored!

If you’ve tried this idea, or are thinking about it, drop a comment on the blog and let us know how it goes!

A great idea for teambuilding!

Purchase a puzzle large enough for each staff member to have a piece. Give each one a piece of the puzzle (during a staff meeting, in their mailbox, etc.). Explain that you need everyone’s participation to make the team fit together. Have a designated place for staff to begin working the puzzle until it’s completed.

Kick It Up A Notch: Leave a few pieces out, but give them to ancillary staff (RT, PT, CM, etc.). After a time of having “holes” in the finished picture, ask the other disciplines to fit their pieces into the picture. You could even have someone glue the puzzle and ask engineering to hang it–as a reminder that we cannot work together without everyone’s input.

“Whoever does not love his work cannot hope that it will please others.” (unknown)

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” (John Maxwell)

Quick nurse retention ideas!

In my position as Nurse Retention Coordinator, I am always on the lookout for innovative ideas I can adapt as a retention strategy. I then share these ideas with our Nurse Managers.
Employee of the Month contests tend to become popularity events; try this instead: At monthly staff meetings, draw one name out of the hat and that person becomes Employee of the Month for that month. This gives everyone an opportunity to be recognized!
Encourage your staff to write down their KUDOS about that person. Who is your creative staff member who just loves crafts, design or scrapbooking? Ask that person to compile the peer comments in any way they think is appropirate: typed on a sheet, a collage, a scrapbook page, a certificate. Be creative (or allow them to be!). No one can win twice until all staff have had one opportunity to shine!

Kick It Up A Notch: Give your creative staff a bulletin board in your unit, but not in the staff lounge. You want patients and visitors to see it too. Encourage your creative person(s) to design the board each month highlighting the Employee of the Month. This is an awesome way to provide peer recognition!
One of my staff nurses also earned a degree in Recreation Therapy – she LOVES taking time each month to design a THEME board. If you have to pay an hour or so of OT, is the recognition factor worth it?