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Saying thanks isn’t just nice to do… it can actually change lives: The importance of Employee Recognition in the Workplace

Nov 5, 2018 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH

Thank You

Happy November folks … this month’s blog is going to focus on appreciation and why saying thank you and being grateful to your employees is important.

I’m going to start by taking you back to when I was a little girl. My parents worked hard but there was never anything extra in our household so it was truly miraculous the year that we got a television. The reason I tell you this is because one of the shows I remember most is Romper Room and the reason I remember this show was the Magic Mirror.

For those of you who grew up in the Star Wars era and beyond where everything science fiction is possible I ask you to consider what it was like for a little girl in Scarborough, to sit in front of the TV, and see a beautiful lady with a magic mirror say that “she can look through her mirror and see all the boys and girls.” Kind of like Santa Claus. My sisters and I would watch and hope that she called our name … I don’t ever recall her calling my name but the anticipation of it – the knowledge that she knew that I was there –was powerful to me. It was fantasy, but for me, very real.

One of the show’s hosts was interviewed about the Magic Mirror and the popularity of that segment where she would go to the desk and pick up the mirror. She said, “It has less to do with me. It has even less to do with the mirror. It has everything to do with that little kid sitting on the floor who I would talk directly to,” she says “Little children want to be recognized. They want to be noticed. Then as adults we still want to be validated and seen.”

That desire to be validated and seen is why saying THANK YOU and why this year’s staff appreciation week matters.

I’ve worked in many organizations where employees are valued and appreciated as well as those where that is not the case. There is a difference in how those organizations feel, perform and how patients, clients and families experience their care. Not surprisingly organizations where staff feel valued, appreciated and are told thank you outperform all the rest on most of the metrics that matter. Here, at HDGH, we want our staff to feel appreciated, thanked and validated – and we’re working hard on creating that kind of culture. Thus – the Changing Lives Recognition Program.

From an HR perspective, a blog from talks about 5 reasons why employee engagement matters (2015). One that jumped out at me is that employees like being connected and involved and seeing themselves as an important piece in the bigger picture – the Mission of the hospital if you will. I liked that and relate it to our commitment and ongoing support to the development of our unit based councils where staff voice plays an important part in achieving excellence on the unit. I believe staff voice matters – is actually critical in our success – and I commit our leadership team to continuing to support this journey.


The second perspective is from a blog by (2017) about how to value your employees. It’s focused on small business and you may wonder about its relevance in healthcare but I think in many ways we are a small business. One could argue that our individual units and programs are unique small business environments in some ways. The post articulates much of what I’m talking about here; everyone benefits from praise in the workplace, thank you matters and flexible environments where employees have discretionary decision making (unit councils again) matters. But what stood out to me is this statement; Everyone needs a mission. This is important because it leads to the discussion about what makes HDGH successful – everyone being part of the bigger picture and feeling that their contribution makes a difference. Being acknowledged, appreciated and thanked for your work leads to that connection.

Finally let’s talk about the numbers.

In 2017/2018 HDGH saw a 5% improvement in patients receiving information on admission, a 3% reduction of total patients falls, a 92.2% overall hand hygene and 94% of our patients telling us they would recommend HDGH to friends. HDGH is doing really really well on our quality and safety metrics. Our patients’ feedback is excellent and our engagement scores across all areas is good to great. That’s important because remember that our focus and our priority is to provide excellent patient/client care. Staff that are valued and appreciated are happier at work and the results here demonstrate that quite ably.

In closing let me be really clear and address our HDGH staff directly. It’s important to validate and appreciate you all in order to provide better patient care, to do well on our accreditation survey, to have better results on our QIP etc. All that is important. But – it’s not the best reason to say thank you to all of you for what you do. The best reason to say thank is that you are deserving of thanks – of acknowledgement – of appreciation.
I want you to know that we get how tough the job is. We know how much you care. We know how tired you are sometimes. We know that sometimes you wonder if anyone is paying attention.

We do and we are.

Thank you for continuing to help us achieve great things for our patients, and clients and our community. We appreciate it and we appreciate you.

I appreciate you.

Thank you.

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