Co-workers' compliments help improve morale

Looking for ways to improve staff morale? At Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, WI, staff are in the habit of saying things such as, "You did a good job today," or "It was a busy shift today, but we really pulled it off!" Peer recognition slips are also used.

"We had one staff member fill one out the other day for another staff member who started buying small stuffed animals to hand out to kids coming in for surgery," says Connie Campbell, director of patient access. "The receptionist had seen the comfort one child had from bringing in his own, so thought this way we could give them one if they didn't bring one in on their own."

Diane Manuel, director of patient access for admissions and the emergency department at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, says that compliments about staff are always shared with the other managers, the division associate director, and the receiving employee. "We have a hospital program that allows employees to nominate fellow employees for 'star performance' recognition," she says.

The employee receives a star performer certificate stating, "You make a difference" along with the compliment. Certificates are posted in the department, and copies are kept for use in performance evaluations. Yearly luncheons are held for all of the hospital's star performers, and prizes are awarded.

"Some nominations come by way of patients and others from fellow employees," says Manuel. "Patients often write in or call our patient relations department to compliment employees who provided extended assistance to patients or their families. Compassion in times of extreme circumstances is another common compliment from the outside."

Recently, two patient access staff members received "You make a difference" certificates because of a letter written by a patient. The patient named the two individuals, saying, "They give a great impression of your hospital. We were very worried and anxious about surgery. They helped us relax and feel confident."

Manual says, "The patient was a same-day admission for surgery and had to wait a long time for a room assignment. The patient access employees had a recliner moved into the waiting lobby, provided the patient with blankets, and issued meal tickets to both the patient and the accompanying family member."

Employees often compliment their co-workers for working extra hours during short-staffed times or for showing patients, families, or other employees exceptional concern or providing exceptional assistance.

Nominations also can come from other departments, when patient access employees provide information and assistance, and from supervisors and managers for employees who demonstrate exceptional performance in their work, on Six Sigma projects, or who provide outstanding assistance to other employees, patients, and employees from other departments.

In other cases, compliments may be the result of work done on special projects and teams. A small gift accompanies the certificate, such as small first-aid kits or carry bags. "At the luncheons, there are drawings from the names of all the attendees," says Manuel. "These awards are always gift certificates for local restaurants and stores."