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Stand Up...And Recognize!

February 15

The proverbial pendulum appears to be swinging back again. We see candidates beginning to peek over the fence at the grass on the other side. Is it really greener? Or, as a talented human resources, recruitment or talent acquisition professional, can we defy the odds that 84% of employed individuals are currently looking for another potential opportunity in 2011?*

In today's competitive healthcare field, high-performing candidates are always in demand, particularly in those disciplines with the highest vacancy rates, such as nursing, therapy or pharmacy. But how can we improve retention and foster employee engagement, particularly if there are limited budgets to support these efforts?

Recognition programs are an exceptionally effective way to achieve these objectives.

Recognition programs can vary greatly in size, scope and implementation. And we all know that budgets are not growing to keep pace with what will be an ever-increasing demand. So, with that in mind, how can respond appropriately...and creatively?

Most acute care organizations have organized activities during national Hospital Week, and almost all healthcare organizations recognize their nursing population during Nurses Week. But what is your organization doing the other 50+ weeks of the year? Quite often it's the simple gestures that help organizations achieve "employer of choice" status when it comes to recognizing your employees...particularly the highest performing employees.

Here are some real-life examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Employee Referral Programs — there was a time when most healthcare organizations had ambitious employee referral programs (ERPs) in place, with significant bonuses being paid out. Many of these once popular programs were cut, due to limited needs or budget. But, statistically speaking, referral initiatives not only produce some of the lowest cost per application/hire statistics, they also simultaneously reward your current employees for their recommendations. Referred candidates are among the highest performing employees, as well, as current employees refer those who will ultimately reflect well upon themselves and most readily fit into the company culture. And these programs don't have to include significant monetary bonuses to generate strong results. I know of client organizations that recognize employees for their referrals at regularly scheduled team meetings via a formal "thank you," perhaps including a card and free meal at the hospital cafeteria. Companies can also extend less costly incentives, including a half-day PTO or the first choice for vacation time or a favorite shift. And don't forget to leverage your great vendor/partner relationships...quite often your corporate travel organization has some nice low (or no!) cost cruises that would be perfect for an employee referral program grand prize! ERPs can also be fully automated, as many companies have online tools to help administer these processes...be sure to check out these innovative offerings from qualified firms.
  • External referral programs — yes, you can incentivize people who are not part of your employee base to refer qualified candidates! While more often than not these programs must be administered via an online tool, human resources organizations can often work with their internal information technology or HRIS partners to automate these processes. And, once again, there are talented vendor organizations whose core offerings facilitate external referrals. Check out these resources to learn more about this innovative sourcing technique!
  • Recognition programs — as stated above, festivities during Hospital and Nurses Weeks are great, but what is your organization doing to regularly recognize your team members? "On-the-spot" recognition programs, in which colleagues, managers or patients can note an employee's outstanding contribution, are among my personal favorites. The simplicity of a program like this makes it easy to administer. And the instant recognition it provides rewards exceptional efforts and creates a forum to applaud contributions, both large and small. Quite often these on-the-spot programs can be coupled with other small incentives, and all entries might be submitted for some type of larger prize. And who doesn't enjoy rewarding a talented individual's contributions? These programs also simultaneously enhance retention efforts, as well, as a true sense of "team" becomes a cornerstone of the collaborative work setting.

So in this New Year, how is your company going to stand up...and recognize...its top performers, referrers and contributors? Are you going to ensure that your employees are recognized, in large and small ways, for their consistent or exceptional contributions? Consider some of these easy-to-administer, yet high-producing programs, to get 2011 started off right...and reduce costs-per-hire and improve retention rates. Talk about the win-win!

* Per a recent survey by job placement firm, Manpower, from December 23, 2010.

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