Incentra Insights

Measuring the Success of a Healthcare Employee Recognition Program

Posted by Vicki Hiney on Jun 24, 2022 9:48:00 AM

Results direction sign on sky background

This post is part four in a series of blog posts discussing The Healthcare Employee Recognition Playbook. In case you missed any of the first three blog posts, you can read them by clicking on the links below. 

  1. Why Is Employee Recognition Important in Healthcare?
  2. What Are the Components of a Highly Successful Healthcare Recognition Program?
  3. How to Put the CARES Concept to Work in Your Healthcare Organization

Measuring success is a must for modern recognition programs. Success extends beyond the obvious program activity and into performance indicators to the overall company and culture; like retention, employee satisfaction, patient satisfaction, and productivity, among others.

There are two important key categories of value that every healthcare leader should consider as they think about what success looks like: results in the form of creating value and results in the form of saving cost.


Measuring the value of a recognition program is an exercise of determining what performance indicators are showing an increased result compared to the past, and what positive attributes exist that were not there before.

Engagement / Productivity

One of the most common ways of assessing the success of a recognition program is measuring engagement. Often, this is a bit of a wild goose chase, as “engagement” is a rather nebulous concept. What is it? And how do you measure it?

The answer is … there are many answers. Engagement could be program usage like logins or recognitions sent. Engagement could be a qualitative buzz in the culture and feelings of improvement. And engagement could be productivity and measures of patient output and satisfaction. While there is no right answer to how “engagement” is defined, it’s important to consider both the “leading” indicators and “lagging” indicators.

Leading indicators of engagement are activities that can lead to a future movement toward a result. For example, more program recognitions sent will likely lead to more engagement within the culture. Also important, however, are the lagging indicators, which measure the results of those leading actions. These indicators can be seen and measured in program activity data.

Lagging indicators are the output — factors such as qualitative feedback (words that express whether things are or aren’t working well) or measured productivity (actions that represent good business health, like the number of patients seen or tasks completed).

Organizations that measure up to highly engaged employees report up to 22 percent higher productivity than ones that don’t.

Patient Satisfaction and HCAHPS

Another force of quality measurement within a healthcare system is contained in words from the patient. Direct links are made between healthcare company culture and patient experience. So, if patient experience is measuring high, it indicates that the staff providing them with good service has healthy work engagement.

While hospitals often conduct their own patient satisfaction research, there is also of course the national standardized version of HCAHPS. It serves as an instrument to collect feedback from patients on their hospital experiences and publish a resulting rating for public visibility.

These scores impact a hospital’s bottom line in two ways. One is a low score potentially damaging the reputation of a hospital among future potential patients and employment candidates. The other is even more direct in financial impact, as low HCAHPS scores can limit the amount of funding received from Medicare.

Measurements of your company’s feedback, ratings, and scores tell you (often literally) how successful the endeavors of cultural engagement are going.

Talent Attraction

Success in cultural improvement can be measured by how much talent your organization is attracting and retaining. Great, engaged cultures result in good word of mouth, positive press, and employee referrals to their contacts. One effective way of keeping a pulse on improvements is measuring recruitment KPIs. How many candidates are filling out applications for new job postings? How quickly are those jobs being filled?

These drivers can tell an impactful story about your organizational culture, and improving the resulting over time can showcase positive cultural change. Another important indicator is how many times these high potentials are being recognized. One study reported that 75 percent of high potentials were more likely to be retained if they had received recognition; it didn’t matter what type or level of recognition they received, only that they had been recognized.


Assessing organizational cost is the other side of success measurement. Unlike value creation, which assesses drivers of positive change, cost savings measures value through the reduction of certain costs that can be mitigated with good culture and engagement. Fostering an engaged workforce helps relieve the burden of overcompensating the fallout of disengagement.


As previously discussed, the average hospital is believed to be losing between $3.6m and $6.5m per year to employee replacement costs. While these costs will never conceivably go down to $0, they can be significantly decreased through better retention of existing employees and kicking up employee referrals from an engaged workforce.

Medical Mistake Reduction

It might sound like a stretch, but fostering rewards and recognition can actually lead to reduced medical mistakes and lower patient mortality.

According to research, approximately 400,000 hospitalized patients experience some type of preventable harm each year, resulting in about 100,000 deaths. The cost associated with these preventable errors is believed to be roughly $20 billion annually.

While it’s wrong to claim that employee engagement is the cure to these issues, it’s reasonable to suggest that healthcare workers who are happier, more engaged, and more productive at work will experience fewer of these issues than others.

New Patients

In business, an important measure of an organization’s success is new sales. While numerous factors can drive or prevent sales, new customers are a factor of a successful company. In healthcare, new patients are the equivalent measure. While outside forces exist, a more engaged workforce, more productive staff, and more satisfied patients are natural drivers of new patient visits.

Positive word of mouth, coupled with discoverable reviews and ratings, and perhaps some good buzz in the press can lead to patients trusting your facilities over others. In some cases, trust has led to ill individuals seeking medical attention versus an alternative of self-care, as well as increases in elective procedures.

Incentra has helped many leading healthcare organizations create and implement employee recognition programs. Click here to read one of our case studies to see how we helped Orlando Health revitalize its recognition program. Contact us to see how we can help you in this highly competitive market. 

(This blog post is an excerpt from our technology partner WorkStride’s publication The Healthcare Employee Recognition Playbook.)


Categories: Employee Recognition