Showing Nurse Appreciation Year-Round: A Guide for Hospital Directors and Nursing Directors

Nursing is one of the most demanding and emotionally draining professions, yet it is also one of the most rewarding. With long hours, high-stress levels, and increasing workloads, nurses are prone to burnout. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nurses have a higher burnout rate than any other profession. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the turnover rate for nurses is twice that of the average professional.  

In an effort to reduce nurse burnout, hospital directors and nursing directors should look for ways to show appreciation throughout the year. Not only will this help boost morale and create a better organizational culture, but it is also a good investment in employee retention. Here are some ideas for showing nurse appreciation at various points throughout the year. 

Staff-Wide Appreciation Ideas 

One of the best ways to show nurse appreciation is by collectively recognizing their hard work. Here are a few ideas for staff-wide appreciation:  

  • Hold an annual awards ceremony to recognize outstanding nurses and teams. Have your executive team present the awards in person!  
  • Offer small tokens of recognition such as pens, mugs, or gift cards. It's a simple way to say "thank you" without breaking the bank.  
  • Host a fun event at least once a year just for your nursing staff—think happy hours, group activities, or team-building exercises! It will help everyone connect with each other outside of the hospital setting and create an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone involved.  
  • Give out certificates or plaques for years of service milestones (e.g., 5 years, 10 years). This type of recognition is especially important as it shows that you value loyalty and commitment from employees who choose to stay with your organization for many years.   

Individual Recognition Ideas 

It's also important to show individual recognition when possible—after all, nurses deserve special attention too! Here are some ideas for individual recognition:   

  • Provide personalized gifts like coffee mugs with their name printed on or hand-written thank-you notes from executives or patients they've cared for in the past.   
  • Show your appreciation with custom, durable gifts such as crystal nurse recognition plaques for the best impact. DIY Awards make crystal awards that are customized to your liking and memorable for years to come.
  • Give out bonuses or special privileges like extra vacation days or flexible scheduling options when nurses reach certain milestones (e.g., 10 years of service). This shows you value their dedication and strengthens their relationship with your organization over time.   
  • Celebrate promotions and retirements with special events tailored specifically towards those individuals (e.g., an office lunch party). This serves as a great opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate their successes!   

Investing in Your Team: 12 Creative Ways to Show Nurse Appreciation 

  1.  Monthly Recognition — Every month, choose a hardworking nurse or outstanding team of nurses to receive special recognition from leadership for their efforts. This could be anything from a small gift card or certificate of achievement to an employee lunch with top executives in honor of their work.
  2.  Celebrate Special Events — Nurses work hard every day, but special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, retirements, or other career milestones should be celebrated with a special treat or ceremony honoring the individual or group of individuals involved. 
  3.  Employee Engagement — Give nurses the opportunity to engage with leadership by allowing them to share their experiences and voice their opinions on changes they would like to see in the workplace through surveys and focus groups.
  4.  Professional Development — Invest in professional development opportunities for your nursing staff, such as conferences, workshops, or seminars related to contemporary healthcare topics that will help them stay up-to-date on best practices in the field while honing their skills as practitioners.
  5.  Thank You Notes — Take time out of your busy schedule each week or month to write personalized thank you notes to individual staff members who have exceeded expectations throughout the course of duty or did something extraordinary for a patient's care experience during that period.
  6.  Service Awards — Create an awards program that recognizes certain levels of service (such as five years, 10 years, 15 years, etc.) within your organization's nursing staff to honor those who have given dedicated service over a longer period. 
  7.  Incentives & Giveaways — Host giveaways periodically throughout the year where nurses can win prizes such as gift cards, movie tickets, spa treatments, restaurant vouchers, etc., as a reward for meeting specific goals set by leadership.  
  8.  Employee Recommendations— Ask employees what benefits they would like at work (such as flexible scheduling options, telecommuting arrangements, etc.), then use these ideas, when possible, to create better working environments that keep employees engaged and motivated.  
  9.  Team Building Activities— Arrange team building activities such as bowling outings, escape room challenges, scavenger hunts, etc., which allow nurses (and other hospital staff) to enjoy each other's company outside of work while having fun and strengthening bonds between colleagues.  
  10.  Social Media Campaigns— Develop social media campaigns that highlight your nurses' successes inside and outside the workplace using hashtags such as #NurseAppreciationDay, #NursingHeroes, #HospitalHero, etc., so that others can learn about their contributions both inside and outside the hospital setting. 
  11.  Create A Hall of Fame - Establish an in-hospital "hall of fame" where you recognize and honor amazing nurses from the past and present. This could include highlighting their achievements and accolades as well as stories about why they are so remarkable.
  12.  Provide Opportunities for Growth - Show appreciation by investing in your staff's professional development. Offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education courses; provide access to resources like books or journals; host guest lectures from industry experts; and organize networking opportunities with other healthcare professionals.


Showing nurse appreciation should be a priority for every hospital director and nursing director because it helps foster an environment of respect and camaraderie among staff members while improving organizational culture. From staff-wide celebrations to individual recognition initiatives, there are many ways to show nurse appreciation throughout the year—and they don't all require a lot of money!   

By investing in meaningful forms of recognition like award ceremonies, luncheons, volunteer days, thank-you cards, and more, you can help ensure that your entire team feels appreciated and valued every step on their journey towards providing high-quality patient care services.