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Incentive Strategies for Nurses: 3 Creative, Non-Monetary Ideas

On-Demand Webinar

Improve nurse & staff retention using incentives that don’t break the bank.

Non-monetary incentives aren’t just inexpensive, they are often more effective than their costly alternative.

Incentives are often used in healthcare as a way to encourage nurses and staff to fill undesirable gaps in the schedule. No one wants the late-night weekend shift, but everyone has their price. Most organizations use simple but costly incentives—cash, and often a lot of it. It is not uncommon for hospitals to accrue millions in incentive costs over a year to reduce vacancy rates and keep their staff happy. With a little inspiration and creativity, managers can leverage non-monetary incentives that motivate their team even more than money, without taking a major budgetary hit.

You will learn:

  • How to use incentives to encourage behavior that benefits your department
  • How to implement a Points & Rewards system at your organization
  • How to use non-monetary incentives to encourage nurses & staff to opt-in to less desirable shifts
  • How to develop a positive culture made of “team players”

If you’ve floated the idea of shift incentives before, you may be familiar with some common management objections to them: incentives are too expensive; a shift incentive program is cumbersome to implement; it’s hard to track incentivized shifts and generally administer the program.

Those things may have been true in the past, but today ShiftWizard scheduling software makes it easy for you to develop and administer a shift incentive program to ensure adequate nurse staffing in every department. ShiftWizard highlights incentivized shifts within the scheduling interface, making it easy for nurses to identify and sign up for schedule gaps or the undesirable shifts that always go begging for coverage.

And as to the argument that an incentive program is expensive? Well, it doesn’t have to be. With a little creativity, you can develop incentives that cost the organization nearly nothing but retain a big impact, in terms of building morale and helping nurses feel appreciated.

Meanwhile, try these ideas for incentives that won’t break the bank.

  1. Use of a premium parking spot for a month
  2. Public acknowledgment of nurses who signed up for incentivized shifts by sending out a “thank you” to all your team members via ShiftWizard’s mass-texting feature
  3. Gift certificates for a ride-share service
  4. Movie theater gift cards
  5. Gift certificates for one-time grocery delivery service
  6. Create a fun departmental “holiday” named after the employee (such as “Betty Thomas Day!”) and provide snacks in the break room
  7. Point system with various incentive tiers that include rewards of increasing value as more points accumulate
  8. Lunch with the CNO
  9. Car wash gift certificates
  10. Scrubs, t-shirts or other apparel with the hospital logo and a slogan like “#1 Nurse” that can only be obtained as a reward
  11. Tickets to galas hosted by charities the hospital supports
  12. Hand-written thank-you notes
  13. Certificates of achievement
  14. Peer recognition on an internal website or bulletin board
  15. Surprise party to celebrate the nurse’s work anniversary
  16. Charitable donation to the nurse’s favorite cause
  17. Sponsor their attendance at an educational seminar of their choosing
  18. Shift recognition: a “#1 Nurse” pin, scrub top or t-shirt to be worn by the nurse while working the incentivized shift so her teammates can express their appreciation in the moment
  19. Extra day of paid time off
  20. Impromptu standing ovation: gather all staff within the department and have everyone give a round of applause in recognition of the nurse who is working an incentivized shift
  21. Name the break room after the employee for a day by hanging a nicely printed sign on or above the door
  22. Magazine subscriptions
  23. Bring in a catered lunch for the nurse being honored – and make sure she has time to enjoy it
  24. Flowers delivered to the nurse’s home with a note of thanks
  25. Lottery scratch tickets
  26. Talking trophy: place a certificate of appreciation inside a “talking” picture frame and record your own message of thanks
  27. Decorate the break room with streamers and banners of appreciation for the nurse being honored
  28. Gift cards for music downloads
  29. Meet the CEO: cover the nurse’s shift for 15 minutes and take a trip to the CEO’s office so he or she can meet one of your most valued staff people

As you can see, it’s easy to create a shift incentive program that revolves around free, recognition-based rewards or low-cost items like gift cards that can be purchased at a discount in bulk. And with the ease of implementation afforded by ShiftWizard, you can design a program that doesn’t require all of your time to administer, either.

About the Speaker

Shane Parker
Shane Parker, RN
Chief Nursing Officer and Co-founder of ShiftWizard, Inc.

Prior to co-founding ShiftWizard in 2007, Shane spent 14 years as a nurse. That experience included nursing and supervisory roles in emergency rooms, critical care transport, and invasive cardiology, ranging from a small community hospital to a large level-1 trauma center.

While still working on the critical care transport team, Shane co-founded, grew and managed ShiftWizard before retiring from nursing in 2010 to manage and focus on the company full-time.

In 2015, Shane was one of an elite group of workforce industry experts selected to form the Advisory Board for Workforce Management at the American Nurse’s Association in Washington, D.C., a collaborative effort dedicated to synthesizing nursing innovation and technology to drive quality in health care delivery.

Shane attended East Carolina University before earning his Associate of Science in Nursing from Sandhills Community College.