Healthcare Staffing Resources

6 ways to show clinicians your appreciation during the holiday season

party showing clinicians appreciation during the holidays

The holidays are the perfect time to recognize and reward the hard work and commitment of your clinicians over the past year. A recent AAFP physician happiness survey found that only 34% of physicians report feeling appreciated at work; and 29% say they’ve never been formally. But the value of recognition can’t be overstated: a study by the American Psychological Association found that 93% of employees who reported feeling valued said they are motivated to do their best work and 88% reported feeling engaged.

And with burnout more prevalent than ever — particularly for those who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic — showing your appreciation can be more impactful than ever. Here are six ways your organization can show clinicians your appreciation this holiday season — and all year round.

1. Offer schedule flexibility and extra PTO

Spending too much time at work is one of the top reasons why physicians are feeling burned out. Increasing your PTO offering is a great way to help your clinicians achieve a better work/life balance, and having that extra time with family and friends over the holidays can make a world of difference.

“Although we stress the importance of family time all year long, it’s especially important during the holidays and paid time off is one way we show our gratitude,” says Shawn Kiley, director of mission leadership at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center. He says this is a priority for their organization.

2. Create a festive environment

Mary Garman, COO of Premier Health’s Miami Hospital North in Dayton, Ohio, says they like to show their holiday spirit by decorating their facilities. “We also have things like lighting our Christmas tree, Nativity scenes, displays of the menorah, and lighting of candles during the Hanukkah and Kwanzaa seasons,” she says.

3. Treat your clinicians to a holiday meal

There’s nothing like getting the chance to enjoy your favorite foods if you’re working over the holidays, and serving meals and offering treats throughout the holiday season is a great way to show your gratitude.

“Healthcare roles are very demanding, and one way we like to show our appreciation for employees in our hospitals is by treating them to a festive holiday meal,” says Dave Fiske, president of Mercy Health in Cincinnati.

4. Create opportunities to give back

Sponsor volunteer opportunities or give your clinicians a paid day off to volunteer at a charitable organization they’re passionate about. A recent study revealed that physicians are very giving: 29% volunteer at least once a month.

Deborah Gordon, EVA, CAO, and CLO of Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, says they host volunteer opportunities throughout their service region. “We mobilize our workforce to volunteer in our area as part of our ‘Hometown Healing’ initiative. The response from our employees was so overwhelming that we decided to host another round of volunteer opportunities during the holidays.”

5. Hire locum tenens to help lighten the load

In the physician happiness survey, 57% of physicians reported that physical exhaustion contributes to their job unhappiness, and 21% say this exhaustion is due in part to lack of staff support. Locums is one way to provide additional coverage so your clinicians can take much-needed time off during the holidays to spend with their loved ones.

6. Find ways to provide formal recognition

Deeb Salem, MD, co-interim CEO and physician-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center, says they hold award ceremonies honoring excellent employees which are attended by their peers. Other healthcare executives say they’ve found frequent, authentic thank-yous from leadership go a long way to showing their gratitude. “We have a streamlined digital recognition platform with a variety of easy ways to express appreciation for any of our 38,000 teammates, and it can be both peer-to-peer and leader-to-peer,” says Jim Dunn, PhD, chief human resources officer of Atrium Health in Charlotte, N.C.

Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated, and these are just a few of the ways you can let your clinical staff know how much you appreciate and value their contribution and commitment. Consistently and effectively recognizing your clinicians can reduce burnout, increase productivity, and even drive organizational success.

About the author

Jen Hunter

Jen Hunter has been a marketing writer for over 20 years. She enjoys telling the stories of healthcare providers and sharing new, relevant, and the most up-to-date information on the healthcare front. Jen lives in Salt Lake City, UT, with her husband, two kids, and their Golden. She enjoys all things outdoors-y, but most of all she loves being in the Wasatch mountains.