7 Powerful Incentives for Healthcare Workers

7 Powerful Incentives for Healthcare Workers

Discover key incentives for healthcare workers in our blog. Learn about financial rewards, recognition programs, self-care initiatives, and effective management training to boost morale and productivity in the healthcare sector.

7 Powerful Incentives for Healthcare Workers

The diligent, compassionate work of healthcare providers got the US through the pandemic. But providing that level of care during a global public health crisis took its toll on both healthcare systems and healthcare workers. The WHO estimates that 41 to 52% of health and care workers were burnt out during the pandemic, and those numbers were even higher for women, young people, and parents of young children.

With healthcare workers feeling exhausted and worn down, the pressure is on for the organizations they work for to provide them with solutions and support. Patients still need to receive excellent care — so how can your company help to motivate and engage the people who provide that care? This guide will give you seven of the most powerful incentives your burned-out healthcare workers need.

Why Motivating Healthcare Professionals Matters

The American health care system does not prioritize the wellbeing of care providers, unfortunately — as doctors and nurses are tasked with more and more paperwork, they have less time to focus on delivering a high quality of care. And those pressures, along with high turnover and understaffing, lead to burnout.

Plus, healthcare professionals typically get into the care field because they’re deeply committed to helping people, and that can make it hard to switch off from work mode and get the rest and recovery they need and deserve. They’re often literally saving lives, so taking time off can be a struggle. But that commitment can lead to burnout and disengagement, and then it’s challenging to get workers to go above and beyond for your organization.

The right incentives can be motivating, but they have to be handled carefully as this is a profession full of naturally caring and driven people. We’ll cover exactly what you need to know to motivate your team members and re-engage them so they can do the work they’re called to do — helping every patient to live a healthy, happy life.

7 Best Incentives to Motivate Healthcare Workers

1. Financial Incentives

Financial incentive programs are an easy go-to for many organizations, and they can offer a good return on investment too — turnover is expensive, especially in healthcare, and increasing retention with pay and benefits often works. Plus, they can encourage team members to do otherwise thankless tasks like picking up a shift for a colleague.

But it’s also easy for incentive programs to backfire, however. Pay-for-performance initiatives might work well in the for-profit sector, but measuring performance by metrics like how many patients a doctor or nurse can see in a day often goes against providing excellent care for each patient.  

It can be a better idea to focus on offering incentives like gift cards for local restaurants, experiences, trips, and so on instead of cold, hard cash. Cash can feel transactional, but rewarding your employees’ hard work and dedication with a weekend away or a night out feels more like a well-deserved reward.

2. Recognition Programs

Sometimes, healthcare organizations assume that the work of caring is a reward in itself, and the thanks of patients are enough recognition. And while those are wonderful, sometimes the long hours and effort of constantly putting others above yourself in health care services deserves some extra appreciation and gratitude.

That’s why creating a formal employee recognition program for your healthcare organization can be a big boost for employee morale. You can combine this with the financial incentives above as a reward, or use non-monetary incentives like peer recognition or leadership shoutouts to encourage and highlight the wonderful work your people do every day.

To make it effective, be sure that recognition can be given and received across the entire organization and isn’t limited to just physicians or nurses, and include staff as well of course.

3. Spa and Self-Care Days

Self-care often falls by the wayside for busy healthcare professionals, but it’s all the more important to provide your employees with opportunities for rest and recovery. Offering them designated spa days, or letting them choose their own self-care day with a self-care stipend, can provide a restorative experience they’ll treasure.

To ensure this experience is truly relaxing — and that your busy people take full advantage of it — make sure you’re giving them an accessible experience. That means considering location if some of your staff don’t have cars, giving them a full or half-day off to actually take advantage of the experience, and ensuring all of your employees get this kind of care regularly.

4. Small, Thoughtful Moments of Appreciation

But you don’t always have to set aside a big budget for recognition and motivation either — sometimes small gestures and outreach matter just as much, or more, than the big ones. Sending a handwritten note of gratitude can make healthcare workers feel seen and valued, and that’s highly motivating. Or sending flowers to their home to thank their family for giving up time with them after a busy month or a big project can be a lovely and appreciated gesture.

When employees know they’ll be thanked and appreciated for going the extra mile, they’re motivated to keep doing it. And these moments of gratitude can be informal and given by anyone, from a peer to a manager or a leader, making them especially powerful.

5. Connect Team Members and Build Bonds

In a stressful profession like healthcare, sometimes the bonds with colleagues are what get nurses, physicians, and everyone else through a tough day or a challenging case. That sense of teamwork is invaluable and highly motivating, and so it’s well worth actively cultivating.

You can create some formal or informal team-building activities, like coffee chats and dinners out as a team, to build those bonds. You can even use professional development opportunities, like conferences, to add in a team-building element where everyone gets to mix and mingle and connect outside of the workplace. Even a simple catered lunch ‘n learn can help your team members connect with each other.

6. Train Leaders and Managers to Offer Support and Development

For many healthcare workers, the biggest drag on their motivation levels is having an unsupportive or downright toxic supervisor or manager. In healthcare, often people who are great caregivers or researchers are promoted into positions as people managers, where they just don’t know how to support employees well. And that can lead to disengaged and poorly motivated employees.

Your human resources team may need to develop better training offerings and resources for supervisors — after all, no one wants to be a bad manager, but many lack the training to be a good one. Support your supervisors and seniors with the development they need to be the leaders your employees deserve.

7. Don’t Forget the Basics of Engagement

And of course, don’t ignore the basics of employee engagement when you’re looking to motivate healthcare workers — they have the same basic needs as employees in any industry. That means providing them with a positive work-life balance, giving them autonomy and flexibility, connecting their work to the larger mission of your organization, and ensuring they have the tools and support they need to do their jobs well.

If your healthcare workers don’t have the technical or material tools to support their patient care efforts, if they don’t have adequate time off because of understaffing, or if they’re only able to spend ten minutes with every patient because the rest of their time is consumed by paperwork, your engagement and motivation efforts are likely not going to be effective.

So if you’re not sure where to begin, this last step is a great start! Adding on additional incentives once you have a solid foundation in place ensures all your efforts pay off in happy, engaged employees.

Engaging and Incentivizing Healthcare Workers

Motivation is about more than paid performance-based incentives like bonuses — it’s about creating a work environment that encourages everyone to be high performers and excellent teammates. That leads to better patient care, as well as better employee retention and engagement.

These incentives offer a holistic approach to engaging and motivating healthcare workers, even in busy and difficult times. And if you’re looking for more solutions to create a better employee experience at your healthcare organization, Cooleaf can help!  

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