Boost Staff Retention with Appreciation

By AADNS - November 05, 2018

In a recent McKnight’s article about Fortune magazine’s “Best Workplaces for Aging Services” and how skilled nursing reached the top of the list, the president and CEO of Van Dyk Healthcare of Hawthorne, NJ, Robert Van Dyk, is quoted with a message about how you have to make sure you care for those who work so hard taking care of your residents if you want to be a best workplace. How do you take care them? Show them appreciation – all the time.

Aspiring to create a great place for employees to work should always be on the minds of leadership personnel. However, if you are struggling with staff retention, it might be time to take a good look at your culture and how you are appreciating your team.

Reassess Your Culture Often

The leadership road isn’t always perfect, and sometimes you might get so caught up in the daily needs of the facility that you forget about how your actions and focus translate into company culture. But your impact is not insignificant. You have the power to make the facility a great place to be for employees, or just a place to have a job.

Here’s some questions to get you started on the evaluation of your culture:

·         What are the main messages that your team hears from you every day?

·         Do you celebrate and reward your team’s successes?

·         Does your team have the tools and education they need to do their jobs well?

·         Do you offer advancement opportunities, including specialty training?

·         Are you asking your staff about their experiences on the job – likes, dislikes, how could things be better, where do they want to go with their careers?

Once you’ve considered those questions, you can plan to change how you appreciate your team.

What Does a Culture of Appreciation Look Like?

There are many ways to show your team that you appreciate them and little gestures can go a long way.

Here are a few ideas:

·         Provide education and growth opportunities – Offer to pay for your team to get certified, to learn at national conferences, to attend webinars, or to work toward higher-level positions with an education program that teaches them the basics.

·         Verbal recognition or nominate them for an award – This is where a little time on your part can go a long way. Your team members want to know they are doing well and expressing their good performance openly in front of others can make them proud of what they are doing every day. Also, consider nominating an exceptional teammate for an award, grant, or scholarship – AADNS’s award nominations are open for submissions and winners will be recognized at the AANAC and AADNS Conference in Orlando, April 3 - 5!

·         Bring in treats – Everyone likes to be treated occasionally! Bring in coffee, sweets, or maybe something healthier like granola bars that they can eat quickly if they are busy. Have a potluck. Celebrate birthdays. Surprise them with something you don’t normally offer in the break room.

·         Company events outside of work – It’s important to get your team together to celebrate as a whole everything that you are accomplishing and working toward. Did you get positive survey results? Have a company barbeque or go out for happy hour. Engage your team in connecting and team building activities, which will bring them closer as a group.

·         Add to their benefits – When it’s possible financially, try to add to your benefits to show your staff that their personal and family needs and life goals matter to you. Can you improve their insurance costs? Are you able to provide tuition reimbursement? Could your facility offer childcare benefits, a wellness program, or flexible work schedules? Take a look at what facilities around you are providing their staff and see if you are competitive.

·         Start holiday traditions – Holidays are a time of celebration and everyone has different traditions at home, but sometimes your staff may have to work on holidays and you can show your appreciation by bringing the celebration to work. Come together as a team to decorate, to decide on fun staff activities, and to coordinate holiday meals or treats. Just because you are at work doesn’t mean that the holidays can’t be fun!

·         Give back to the community together – Appreciating your staff sometimes means working together to appreciate what they care about outside of work and give back to the community. Put together a Thanksgiving Food Drive. Run a 5K together to support a cause. Raise donations to give back to other LTC nurses in need. Clean up a local park. Consider also offering your staff an hour of paid volunteering if they would like to help their community and the other option for their cause is during work hours.


Your team works so hard every day. Don’t forget to let them know you truly appreciate all that they do. Be sincere in your appreciation and you may just see your facility grow into a best place to work!


Teams Who Learn Together, Stay Together

Having the right tools, resources, and educational opportunities for your team to do their jobs well is important for staff retention. AADNS, and our sister organization, the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC), offers high-quality resources to meet your team’s diverse needs. Join as a group and ensure that your team is always up-to-date on the latest CMS regulation changes, LTC breaking news, best practices in the field, what peers are talking about, tips, and so much more.


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