The unit council of one medical-surgical unit wanted to find a way to recognize staff within our unit for their efforts in the areas of teamwork, helpfulness, and caring in the hope was that this would improve the morale of the unit, which was at an all-time low, thanks in part to the pandemic. Focusing on what elements of their daily job were actually in their control, the unit council members came up with a program to implement on the unit that would recognize their peers for doing things well or working as a team. The unit council members brainstormed ideas on how to actually make a difference to staff on the unit.
After many discussions and focusing only on what was in their locus of control, the members came up with a plan to roll out a recognition program on our unit. The idea was to find a way for staff to recognize peers for helping out, providing teamwork, lending a hand, or arising even if a staff member witnessed something they felt should be recognized, finding a way to do that. The unit council members wanted something unit specific and tangible. They also wanted it to be meaningful for staff. So, from this, “commend-a-friend” was born.
The program would consist of cards that could be filled out on staff and collected in an anonymous drop box; then these would be read at our daily huddles. It also was decided that there would be certificates issued to each recipient of a “commend-a-friend” nomination. The unit council members wanted staff to feel tangibly rewarded, so it was decided that the person receiving the most nominations in a month would receive a gift. The unit council would purchase gift cards to popular things like Amazon, Dunkin Donuts, Wawa, etc., for the winners. Unit council found certificates to use for the program, purchased award nomination cards, developed posters and signs to roll-out the program, found a location for the drop box, and really talked about this new program for recognition at all huddles and with other staff.
This program has been rolled out for about 5 months now, and we have had tremendous success. The unit council has felt a great sense of accomplishment in trying to make the culture of the unit a more family-feeling and team-focused place to work, following the mantra that good coworkers and a happy, family-focused working environment can make the worst day not so bad. Along with this program rollout, the unit clinical practice leader, along with the unit council leader, took time to hang messages of positivity around the unit, again to positively affect the morale of the unit. Upon resurveying the staff with a simple survey tool, when asked about improvements in teamwork and staff morale, our unit staff nurses showed a 50% increase in feeling that there was a positive, rewarding work environment and also that there was an increase in teamwork on the unit.
Evidence-based references 1. Kelly, L. A., Weston, M. J., & Gee, P. M. (2021). A Nurse Leader’s Guide to Reducing Burnout:: Strategies to Improve Well-Being. Nurse Leader, 19(5), 467-473.