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No one needs a thank-you more than your favorite nurse. It’s a high-caring, high-stress profession, and often their efforts go overlooked. But on the hospital floor, their expertise is gold. So we’ve put together 14 appreciation ideas for nurses.

Even before COVID-19, nurses in particular were at a high risk for burnout: The RN Network’s 2017 study found that nearly half the nurses in the U.S. have considered leaving the field due to overwork, exhaustion, and lack of appreciation.

And right now, we need our nurses to feel supported more than ever. Whether you work in the medical field or just have a medical professional in your life who needs a morale lift, check out our 14 appreciation and recognition ideas for nurses and medical staff:


1. Meal delivery (their pick)

As we note in our article How to Run a Strategic Employee Rewards Program, custom rewards are far more meaningful and impactful than generic gift certificates or company swag — and even more so when you let employees choose. Give your nurses a break from the cafeteria by ordering in food. Or, better yet, see if your hospital can organize a promotion with Favor, UberEats, or another food delivery service, and put the decision directly in their hands.


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2. Enrollment codes for online fitness classes

After a long day of work, working out may be the last thing on anyone’s mind. But fitness plays an important role in shedding stress. As Emily and Amelia Nagoski note in their best-selling book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cyclechronic stress keeps out bodies and brains in constant fight-or-flight mode. Even if we’ve addressed the stressor rationally, our adrenaline and cortisol levels are still at a high, keeping us in physiological distress we may not know how to escape.

So, what’s the no-fail way to signal to your body that you’re done with fight-or-flight? Run. Or… dance. Or hop on the elliptical. Just 20 minutes is enough to unlock stress and leave you ready to fight another day.


3. Gel inserts

Help medical staff stay comfortable on their toes with gel inserts or custom orthotics. They’re inexpensive and easily available online, or even in the supermarket.


4. Help staff recognize each other

Studies show that peer recognition can mean just as much as recognition from a boss, if not more. So give your nurses the opportunity to thank each other for a job well done and a great attitude. Try setting up a gratitude board in a shared break room, including a “kudos corner” in your newsletter, or including real-time, peer recognition in your employee rewards program with a platform like WorkTango’s Recognition & Rewards. Learn more about how we help boost appreciation and reduce turnover.


5. Virtual yoga classes

This thousands-year-old practice has been scientifically proven to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and reduce anxiety. COVID-19 may have hampered in-office yoga offerings. But like so much else in today’s techie world, the internet’s got an answer for it.

Give your nurses a gift certificate to a local yoga studio offering online courses, or look for free offerings on YouTube. If your budget allows it, gift your nurses a travel yoga mat to support them in their practice.


6. Meditation time

Let’s take a minute to stay in the ancient arts. Much like yoga, meditation is a practice demonstrated to reduce stress and anxiety — plus, it promotes self-awareness and may even help defend against memory loss. Build a 10-minute break into your nurses’ schedule for meditation or prayer time (and encourage them to actually unplug, even if it’s tempting to surf Facebook), and provide a quiet, dimly lit space for relaxation. As a bonus, consider giving them gift codes for a meditation app like Headspace or A Simple Habit so they can continue their practice at home.


7. Bonus time off

In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, “give nurses time off” may seem counterintuitive. But long hours under peak stress is a recipe for burnout. Make sure your nurses are taking their accumulated PTO, and keep an eye on the schedule for folks pulling more than their fair share of overtime. As a bonus, look for opportunities to let nurses and other frontline staff accumulate bonus time off for some much-needed rest and relaxation.


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8. Gift certificates for shoes

Truly, are there better appreciation ideas for nurses than putting a spring back in your nurses’ step? Gel inserts can get you a long way, but they won’t entirely save the day! Look into adding gift certificates to Zappos, DSW, and other online shoe retailers to your custom rewards catalog.


9. Sleep-centric gift baskets 

Sleep deprivation is a killer — literally. One night of missed sleep has marked effect on concentration, working memory, logical function, and more. Your nurses are already working hard, so help them rest up. Put together gift baskets including earplugssleep maskslavender pillows, and even a travel pillow or white noise machine. For our busy workers, there’s no greater gift than the gift of good sleep.


10. Surprise snack delivery

At midnight, or 7 hours into a shift, a healthy pick-me-up can go a long way! Fruit, chocolate, high quality coffee, or other healthy treats for the team can keep them going.


11. Green space

One of our favorite simple employee moral boosters (from our article 20 Proven Strategies to Boost Employee Morale) is to add plants to the workspace. Studies show that “going green” isn’t just good for the planet — it can also save workplace morale. Invite a breath of calm into the hectic halls of your hospital with additional plants, natural sunlamps, or even a garden space in a courtyard.


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12. Backup batteries or a charging station

Nurses are using more and more mobile devices and tablets on and off the job. Why not remove the stress by helping them recharge devices with a wireless charging pad, backup battery packs, or on-the-go charging unit?


13. Doctors bring the coffee

This is one of our favorite appreciation ideas for nurses — and nurses love it, too! Have the lead doctor on shift bring nurses coffee or snacks as a special surprise. It’s sure to spread smiles all around.


14. Celebrate together

This is perhaps the most important tip of all. When the going gets tough, it’s easy to fall into negative thought patterns, like I’m exhausted or nobody sees me, which makes hard work feel even harder. Bring your team together for a quick emotional refresher — a spontaneous 5-minute dance break at midnight, a highs-and-lows of the week chat, or something else fun and goofy.

Even if it sounds silly, there’s a good reason for it. Giving the team a chance to celebrate together gives them a chance to bond and back each other up — and studies show that having even one close friend at work boosts employee satisfaction and morale by 50%.


Thank you, nurses! Love, WorkTango

We hope these 14 appreciation ideas for nurses are helpful!

At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only Employee Experience Platform that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, supports alignment through goal setting and feedback, and offers actionable insights through employee surveys.WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. So if you’re ready to improve (work) lives, schedule a demo today.

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