1. Section Editor(s): Raso, Rosanne DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, FAONL

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We've all seen literature describing the state of our nursing workforce with titles that include terms such as burnout, intent to leave, psychological distress, moral injury, or other negative descriptors. As leaders, we're searching for answers about how to reverse the negative effects of continuing pandemic waves and huge staffing issues. We aren't immune to burnout ourselves. Recognition and appreciation can help.

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Recognition has been an integral part of our professional lives for a long time. For example, this month recognizes certified nurses, and every specialty has a day, a week, a month, and so on. We also have a multitude of awards; some employer-based or community, others at the unit-level, and even national and international awards from various professional organizations. Receiving any of these honors is memorable and important, affirming one's value emotionally and publicly.


Formal awards might be enough for those who receive them, for the moment at least. But EVERYONE else needs affirmation too! A feeling of worth and purpose is generated and magnified when peers, bosses, direct reports, or colleagues acknowledge genuine and perceived value in what you do. It goes beyond awards and special days; it's an essential component of your everyday leadership, work environment, and organizational culture for workforce retention.


How can you incorporate appreciation into your everyday workflow? Regular shout-outs at huddles and meetings and thank-you notes go a long way to develop a culture of appreciation. Simply thanking staff members for being present on a difficult shift matters. Some managers create an individualized recognition plan for every new hire by asking about their favorite candy bar, coffee, or tea, or have cafeteria meal tickets and other quick and useful gestures available.


Possibly even more important are the intangibles that contribute to feeling appreciated. Listening, allowing a voice, providing psychological safety, and giving specific positive feedback come to mind. Doesn't an environment with those characteristics make you feel valued? In a recent JONA article, "Understanding Inpatient Surgical Nurses' Meaningful Recognition Preferences," Leger and colleagues stated, "to be heard is to be honored and to be recognized is to be valued."


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses lists meaningful recognition as one of its six essential healthy work environment standards ( Critical elements include organizational responsibility to have systems in place for recognition and broadening that responsibility, availability of professional development, and advancement. This is an important part of organizational support for the individual, such as continuing education, career ladders, shared governance, higher educational degree attainment, and opportunities for promotion. Being able to grow and learn is fulfilling, underscores one's value, and is a reason to stay in a job.


In an interview for Inc. magazine, Oprah Winfrey said that even the most famous people ask after their interview whether it was okay. People are people, and we all need affirmation! Contributing to an individual's well-being through earned recognition and everyday appreciation is important. Make it a leadership habit and help your organizations advance their culture of appreciation. It may not reverse burnout, but it will certainly help. There's no downside.



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