Manhattan, New York, USA - May 21, 2020: Healthcare workers at the Lenox Health Emergency room entrance are greeted to cheers and thanks for their essential service during the covid-19 pandemic in New York City.

Showing Appreciation in the Workplace

Expressing appreciation in the workplace

Showing appreciation in the workplace

It’s amazing how a little moment can change the course of the day for better. Even in a high-stress industry like healthcare, appreciation in the workplace whether a simple gift, a hug from a friend, or a meaningful “well done” from a supervisor can refresh, reinvigorate, and re-energize employees.

Building and sustaining a culture of well-being in the workplace takes intention, commitment, and dedication from top to bottom, and appreciation is one of the most powerful tools to help reduce clinician burnout.

Adapted from Gary Chapman and Paul White’s The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, below are some ideas for showing meaningful appreciation in the workplace.

Related: Leadership and Nursing Practice Specialty CE courses

Offer words of affirmation

Words are powerful. While a casual “good job” is always nice to hear, the most meaningful expressions of affirmation are specific and timely. Here are some examples:

  • “I appreciate the way you handled that family situation. You were able to de-escalate a situation that could have had negative outcomes.”
  • “Thank you for participating in the shared governance meeting. Your ideas will help improve patient care. “
  • “You did a great job supporting our new nurse during his first code situation by letting him know you were in the room if he needed help. “

Spend quality time

Time is valuable. Rather than a quick, perfunctory check-in, reserving time to spend with colleagues who cherish this appreciation style speaks volumes. Here are some ideas:

  • Schedule lunch in the cafeteria with an employee.
  • Sit when conducting leader rounding on your staff.
  • Include an agenda item that allows for peers to recognize each other for positive impacts they are making.
  • Take time to formally recognize staff with their peers present, such as with the DAISY Award.

Engage in acts of service

Whether you’re a team leader or a coworker, volunteering to help out a colleague who needs a hand shows that you value them and their work. Here are some examples:

  • Escort the patient in a wheelchair to their waiting vehicle when they have been discharged.
  • Ensure breaks are scheduled and there is coverage available so the staff do not worry about their patients when they are gone.
  • Evaluate the environment to make sure staff have a place to rejuvenate during their shift such as a lounge with aromatherapy, low lighting and comfortable chairs.
  • As a leader, ensure policies are in place to mitigate fatigue through evidence-based practices.

Give tangible gifts

A thoughtful gift can brighten anyone’s day. Here are some of our top gift recommendations for healthcare professionals.

  • Coffee supplies
  • Compression socks
  • Insulated drinkware
  • Massage or spa visit
  • Personalized lanyard
  • Retractable badge clips, lapel pins, and stethoscope IDs
  • Shoes (especially brands designed for nurses!)
  • Smartwatches, pedometers, and other wearable fitness trackers
  • Subscription to a meal delivery service

Physical touch

Appropriate physical touch is a tricky form of appreciation in the workplace, especially in the days of social distancing, but that doesn’t mitigate the healing nature of human touch. Here are some simple ways to show appreciation to your colleagues via touch:

  • A high-five
  • Elbow or fist bump
  • A hug, when appropriate


This article on appreciation in the workplace is based on the 1-hour on-demand webinar course Nurse Leadership Resiliency, presented by Lesly Kelly, PhD, RN, FAAN.