Care For The Careers – 6 Ways To Celebrate Your Nursing Team (And 1000s Of Reasons Why)

25 August 2021

International Nurses Day is celebrated each year on May 12th. But, given the incredible work done by nurses every day of the year, taking just one day to acknowledge this hard-working profession seems somewhat inadequate. Here’s how you can say thanks to your nursing staff—and why you shouldn’t wait until next May to do so.

Where would we be without nurses? They are the friendly face there from the moment a patient steps through the door of a healthcare facility to the moment they leave. For every sick, elderly or scared patient there is a compassionate nurse by their side. Yet despite their incredibly challenging work nurses are not always given adequate recognition.

More than ‘thank you’: how to give meaningful recognition

Everyone appreciates hearing the two little words of ‘thank you’ after a hard day’s work. But there are also more meaningful ways to show gratitude.

Meaningful appreciation genuinely recognises someone for the work they do and helps them feel motivated to keep doing it. It’s an important way to keep morale and wellbeing high. Showing nursing staff how much they are appreciated in a meaningful way is well and truly worth it.

Here are six ways to acknowledge and celebrate the role nurses play in our lives…

Responsible pay

All the platitudes in the world still won’t make up for failing to pay someone what they’re worth. So, before looking at any ways to acknowledge nursing staff, take a look at how they’re being paid.

Increasing pay rates doesn’t have to mean large salary jumps. It may be that a carefully budgeted bonus arrangement can be used to financially reward your team instead. Sometimes it’s best not to have an obvious bonus system for the nursing staff either. Instead, the allocated funds can be given out in a natural approach, rewarding rather than motivating those who are working through challenging circumstances.

Time and time again we read stories about employers who pay above the standard wage levels and are rewarded with loyal, passionate and skilled staff in return. When you consider the time it takes to onboard new staff (and the resources needed to dismiss non-performing staff), investing a little more in the team you’ve got is simple common sense.

An in-house awards ceremony

And the winner is… everyone. This can be as fun or as serious as is required. No matter the approach, a little fuss and recognition can go a long way.

While there are national award events that acknowledge nurses from around the country, an in-house event is a sure-fire way to let the team know how much they are appreciated.

An evening awards ceremony can get everyone together for a meal before the presentation of awards. Or it can be kept low-key and undertaken as a simple lunchtime event. Awards may come in the form of prizes, certificates or gift baskets. Importantly too, make sure to bring in temp staff to help cover shifts so everyone is included in this.


Acknowledging an individual for the contribution they make is an essential element of any successful business. As most nurses want to keep their role engaging and to avoid feeling stagnant a good way to recognise this contribution is with promotion or professional development.

Whether it’s the care they deliver to patients or the way they work within the team, a good worker can have a massive impact on the ongoing success of the organisation. A promotion comes with a pay increase too, which is always appreciated.

Looking after health and wellbeing

Being a nurse is generally not a 9 to 5 office job and, as nurses give so much to their patients, it often comes at the expense of their own wellbeing. With such commitment it can be easy to find that often the tanks are running on empty.

Providing a workplace health and wellness programme is one common sense way of looking after the team. Offer a weekly yoga class, which could be at work or via an online platform. Take it one step further by gifting nurses a yoga mat for their first class. If yoga doesn’t sound like it’s the right fit, mediation or stress management classes can also work wonders.

VIP deals

Any little extras can go a long way for improving general morale and wellbeing. A good way to do this is to set up deals or special offers exclusively available for nurses.

Reach out to businesses in the local area and ask if they would offer a special deal or discount for the nursing staff. Start with local restaurants and cafes and then move onto retail stores, gyms or yoga studios. It may not be much. But as important as a 5% or 10% discount is the actual recognition their work is valued by the wider community.

Sharing their story

Nurses can often seem to be the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. Why not create a way to let everyone know about the work they do? Sharing these stories is a powerful way to celebrate the work that nurses carry out on a daily basis and often goes unnoticed.

Create a space where staff, patients or family members can share positive and uplifting stories. This may be on a wall at the workplace or it may be online. People may want to record videos, share photos or write some kind words of thanks. These little words can make a big difference.

Nurses play a critical role in contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, whether it’s a midwife in a maternity ward or a nurse in an aged care facility. While we can all agree they should be thanked for their work, it’s important recognition is done in a meaningful and appropriate way.

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