Happy Nurses = Happy Patients

May 6, 2019 Lauren Brown

Nurse with patient

3-minute read

The other day, one of my friends who’s a nurse posted a meme on Instagram that said “I’m a nurse. What’s your superpower?” It’s true – it takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. Someone who’s a rare blend of nurturing, compassionate, selfless, efficient, meticulous, kind, and engaging. A person who can perform the most detail-oriented task with unparalleled precision at the same time as they’re providing comfort to a patient. And often, they’re working long shifts, well more than the eight hours most of us work on an average day, which takes its toll on body and mind. What they’re probably not doing? Playing cards.

Often those in this profession and everything they sacrifice for the well-being of others is overlooked. May 6 is National Nurses Day, which honors the innumberable contributions of nurses everywhere and kicks off National Nurses Week – ending on May 12, the birthday of the most beloved nurse of all time, Florence Nightingale.  

But apart from this time to honor the vital role these everyday heroes play in society, how else can nurses be more appreciated for the great work they do? Gratitude. When people are connected to purpose through gratitude and acknowledgment, it motivates and empowers them to do the best work of their lives. And for nurses, this includes better patient care.  

In a recent HRTech Outlook article by Jennifer Faulkner, vice president for team member experience at Baystate Health – a Workhuman® customer – she mentions a study of 146 nurses in Oregon found that being thanked more often at work led to satisfaction with the care the nurses provided. In fact, 70% of employees at Baystate Health agree that receiving recognition encourages them to work harder for patients, customers, and team members.

“This program not only fosters connections between employees in different spheres, but also shows us that the work of all our team members impacts the patient experience,” Faulkner has said about their program, Baystate Celebrates!

But what’s really compelling for the industry, since turnover is such a large pain point, is that Baystate Health employees who’ve been recognized 3+ times have significantly higher retention than those who don’t. In 2018, nurses with this amount of recognition had a turnover rate 7x less than those who received none, and there was no turnover among the 40 physicians who received awards compared to 6% in those who didn’t.

It makes sense that happy healthcare workers equal happy patients. Decades of evidence shows that if hospital employees feel valued at work, they’ll provide better care to patients. In fact, hospitals with better work environments for nurses also have higher HCAHPS scores. Journalist John Rossheim delved into this topic last year to show how recognition is a key driver to clinician engagement.

So, if you have a nurse in your life, remember to thank that person for all they do – and if you’re an employer of nurses and healthcare professionals, consider all the reasons to create a positive employee experience through recognition. Because a little gratitude goes a long way, for nurses and for our family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones who are in their care.

About the Author

Lauren Brown

Lauren Brown is the senior copywriter at Workhuman, writing everything from emails and landing pages to all the signage at Workhuman Live. In her free time, she writes novels, shops vintage, and throws epic dinner parties.

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