1. Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, NEA-BC, FAWM, FAAN

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An important metric of employee satisfaction or engagement in many organizations is the degree to which staff feels they are recognized for their efforts at work. In the nursing world, strong engagement is key to achieving prestigious Magnet Recognition Program(R) status. Low recognition scores in an engagement survey impact the overall results. However, survey vendors are quick to point out that the recognition score is commonly lower than the other indicators of engagement measured in these surveys. There are reasons for that, but they may not be obvious.

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Finding a way to achieve high recognition scores can turn into the quest for the Holy Grail in healthcare organizations. The usual knee-jerk response is to create new employee recognition programs. Although they might yield some wins if well implemented, these programs can become the "flavor of the month" and typically do not address the root causes of why staff feel their efforts are not being recognized.


Although the concept of recognition seems straightforward, it is highly nuanced. Being awarded a free meal in the employee cafeteria or receiving a nicely printed certificate for a job well done is appreciated . . . but true recognition happens in the sentinel moments when it really matters. These are the times that can make or break a nurse's loyalty to an employer and often influence whether the nurse stays or looks for another job.


Recognition is a two-way street. It is deeply connected to a nurse's sense of feeling valued. At a basic level, recognition happens through timely and meaningful feedback for a nurse's efforts. It does not include pointing out what the nurse also did wrong in the same breath. Being recognized from a nurse's perspective means that things like consistently working overtime when asked or actively volunteering to take on extra duties are at least considered when the nurse makes an occasional special request, such as asking for a schedule change for an important family event.


Case in point: Many years ago, one of the most dedicated and loyal nurses on my unit announced he was engaged. As we congratulated him, our manager came by. Smiling broadly, he told her the good news and mentioned that his wedding date, which was 6 months away, would fall on his Saturday to work. She said the weekend rotation was "set in stone" and that he would have to pick a new wedding date. He picked a new job instead.


Be safe and well,