Develop an Atmosphere that Reflects the Value and Goodness of Each Individual Employee, Facility-Wide


  • Make your mission the thrust of all decisions and actions.
  • Reinforce daily that all staff play an important role in fulfilling your mission.
  • Provide programming directed toward communication and self-esteem building.

Recognize the Value of Each Employee


  • Promote the value of the employees in every department to all other employees, residents, families, and the community on a continual basis.
  • Add the value and skills of the employees in every department to the public relations function of your organization.
  • Employees need to see the administrator on the unit.
  • All employees should show respect to all other employees.
  • Greet employees by name at the beginning of the shift. Thank them at the end of the shift.
  • Listen to employees attentively for their concerns.
  • Work with your employees as a team; help them with transfers and answering lights.
  • Involve employees in the interview process.
  • Encourage all employees to share the value and function of the role of all other employees.
  • Follow the adage "walk a mile in my shoes" -- have employees from one department spend a day with an employee in another department.

Special Recognition


  • Award service pins such as employee pins, longevity pins, and Employee of the Month pins.
  • Provide special T-shirts for no time loss; use a department color, if requested, so the T-shirt can be used as the uniform top.
  • Provide special shirts or jackets to reward your employees for good attendance or positive behavior. This is good public relations.

Show Appreciation


  • Offer compliments often, especially at the time you see a positive.
  • Let others hear your compliments.
  • Attend CNA meetings and give positive feedback.
  • Food is always a good reward. Provide treats such as soup on blizzard days, lemonade on hot days, donuts on those "bizarre days," and pizza is good for all shifts anytime.
  • Insist that all employees treat CNAs with respect.
  • Treat an employee to dinner at an offsite location to recognize the employee's five year anniversary with the facility.
  • For the first week on the job, offer a small treat every day for the new employee (lifesavers, note of thanks, etc.).
  • Give "gift certificates" for ice cream cones, popcorn, etc. that are made in the building.
  • Present awards for five-year increments of an individual's employment anniversary.
  • Give a small corsage to each employee to wear on their anniversary date. For a facility with 230 employees, this costs approximately $30 to $40 per month. Try to negotiate a contract with a florist for a discount.
  • Host employee recognition banquets. Employees of five years are treated to a luncheon and 10-year employees are treated to a dinner.
  • Recognize employees in the bi-weekly newsletter for working extra shifts, volunteering for activity outings, donating supplies to activities, etc.
  • Post thank you's for working safely, for example -- GREAT JOB! YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING SAFELY FOR ____ DAYS!
  • Give a $20 gift certificate to the mall or the grocery store for "no lost-time injuries" in the month.
  • Give a 19-inch television for three months of no lost-time injuries.
  • Give an apple or banana with each paycheck for safe working.
  • Give all employees a facility calendar printed with safety tips.
  • Present awards for perfect attendance.
  • Develop incentive programs and recognition programs for working safely.
  • Give gift certificates for working a full shift on a scheduled weekend off or double shift anytime.
  • Present plaques for "heroic" actions such as Heimlich or instituting CPR.
  • Host an all day open house for nurses during the holidays at the home of the director of nurses.



  • Secret pen pal delivers notes of praise.
  • Recognition pins.
  • Stickers on pay envelopes; smiley face, thank you.
  • "Someone notices" cards for good deeds.
  • Post all good notes for everyone to see.
  • Give recognition in front of others.
  • "Catch of the Day" -- catch someone doing something nice, extra, write it down and post it.
  • Memo Gram -- 3-part carbon; one to supervisor, one to file, one to employee.



  • Summer picnic.
  • Christmas party -- Breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning, where department heads serve breakfast to employees' children; Santa gives gifts, pictures with Santa.
  • Residents' families put together a "tea" with food and beverage for every employee to attend.
  • Pizza lunch for a job well done.
  • Pitch in -- all employees bring a dish.

Spirit Activities


  • Pie tasting.
  • Halloween party for employees and their children.
  • January breakfast for employees.
  • Holiday party gift exchange -- employees pick names from their department and exchange gifts; entertainment by activities department.

Say Thank You


  • Look for opportunities to say thank you and then say it -- verbally, in writing, with food, with flowers, or with a special treat.
  • Display thank you notes in the staff lounge.
  • Share all positive feedback with your employees.
  • Movie tickets.
  • Free lunch.
  • Soda, candy bars, flowers.
  • Secret Santa activities among staff.
  • Gift certificate given monthly for special customer service; cards are submitted by other employees and then a committee reviews nominations monthly.
  • Christmas money envelope for employees.
  • Token given for free ice cream, coffee or vitamins in facility store.

Show Interest in Each Employee as an Individual


  • Occasionally eat lunch and take breaks with an employee.
  • Talk one-on-one with employees; ask about their family, activities, hobbies, life, and concerns.
  • Comment on local news involving employees and their family (sports, band, academics).

Look for Positives, Not Only the Negatives


  • Compliment quality performance (good positioning, new uniform, appropriate interaction in a difficult situation, etc.).
  • Make it a point to look for positives (no skin tears, resident looks good, etc.). When you identify a positive, write a note or give a certificate.
  • Have notepads with a "warm fuzzy" on it for anyone to leave a note about something good.

Employee of the Month


  • Make the Employee of the Month process very official: establish a committee of peers, establish criteria, and formalize the nomination procedures.
  • A rating sheet goes to each manager; if there are enough points the name goes into a box for a resident to draw; $50 for each winner (one per month); employee then is eligible for "Employee of the Year."
  • Employee of the Year wins $100, a plaque, dinner, recognition in local paper, special parking spot, certificate and a pin.
  • Employee of the Year wins $100 savings bond, mall gift certificate, picture at time clock, banner in work area, and a special pin.
  • Recognize the Employee of the Month in various ways; consider name pins a special parking spot, pictures throughout your facility, a happy ad, lunch with the boss, and gift certificates.
  • Add the employee's picture and name to a plaque.
  • Present a special pin to the Employee of the Month.
  • Treat the Employee of the Month to a free meal.
  • Recognize the Employee of the Month at a special resident activity.

Special Recognition Days for Employees


  • Celebrate 1999 (and every year thereafter) as the Year of the Long Term Care Worker.
  • Observe special recognition days (see WAHSA's Member Services  bulletin on Staff Recognition Days and Other Occasions to Celebrate).
  • Have the each department alternately host a potluck meal for another department to honor a special recognition day.
  • Serve a special treat to celebrate special staff recognition days; involve the residents.
  • Hang banners throughout the building and in front of the building, and distribute announcements regarding the celebration.
  • Write and distribute or publish poems to recognize your employees collectively or individually.
  • Place "happy ads" in you local newspaper recognizing and thanking your employees.
  • Distribute a news release to the local newspaper and invite the newspaper to cover the events planned for your special staff recognition days.
  • Award your employees certificates to local restaurants.
  • Give each employee a small gift, such as key rings, name badge holders, mugs, pins, lunch bags, T-shirts, or fanny packs.

Display Special Signs and Banners in the Lounge


  • Post births, engagements, weddings, and other special events.
  • Recognize birthdays, work-related anniversaries, retirements, and resignations.
  • Hang a banner to welcome an employee back from a vacation, sick leave, maternity leave, or other similar leave.

Management Sessions for "Creative" Employee Honors


  • Reward creative employees by allowing them to attend seminars or classes on leadership, quality, and other similar topics.

Include Employees in Facility Pictures Shared with the Local Newspaper


  • Promote employee interactions in the newspaper.
  • Include employees in your facility's promotional pamphlets and brochures.
  • Put individual or group pictures of recognized employees by your facility's front door.

Sponsor "Happy Ads" in the Local Newspaper


  • Congratulate employees in the local newspaper or the facility newsletter for birthdays or special events such as Employee of the Month and special staff recognition days.

Congratulations for Family Achievements Reported in the Newspaper


  • Watch the newspaper for articles about your employees and their families; clip these articles for display on a facility bulletin board.
  • Develop a "wall of fame" to display clippings about your employees and their families.
  • Make a personal comment when you see a clipping about an employee or his/her family.
  • Send the employee a note or card of congratulations when appropriate.
  • "Staff in the News" Bulletin Board -- for accomplishments of employees' children such as athletic and/or academic achievements, honors.

Working Short Bonus


  • If staffing is down by a predetermined amount, treat the employees who helped cover the shortage.
  • Institute a working short bonus: If an employee is called to work within 12 hours of the shift give an additional hour of pay. If an employee is called to work within three hours of the shift, give an additional two hours of pay.

Monthly Prize Drawings for Employees Who Work Extra Hours/Shifts


  • An employee's name goes in for the drawing for each extra shift she worked.
  • Unit care coordinators could sponsor their own drawings.
  • Solicit prizes from area businesses.
  • Use pop can recycling money and vending machine money to pay for prizes.

Merit Increases


  • Reward longevity with a cash bonus, an hourly increase, or with extra time off with pay.
  • If an employee has perfect attendance for six months, reward him/her with one or two days off with pay. Allow employees to accrue more paid time off by increasing the number of hours of employment.
  • Reward good attendance with a cash bonus, with an hourly increase, or with extra time off with pay.
  • Reward orientating new employees.

Lunch with Director of Nursing or Administrator within the First 30 Days of Employment


  • Provide a vehicle that ensures informal time for the director of nursing and the administrator to get to know new employees.
  • Encourage the director of nursing and/or the administrator to join the new night shift employees for a quarterly breakfast and to join new PM shift employees for dinner.



Chapter One: Good Wages and Working Conditions

Chapter Two: Scheduling Options

Chapter Three: Recognition

Chapter Four: Feeling In on Things

Chapter Five: Fringe Benefits and Other Incentives

Chapter Six: Growth Opportunities

Additional Resources