Why Praise and Gratitude Matter for EMS Teams
History has proven that being a valued member of a team is fulfilling, rewarding, increases productivity, and most of all is a fun experience. However, these statements are only valid for team leaders who foster a positive team environment. EMS is a stressful industry and can be overwhelming at times, especially for EMS team members. Because of this, it is vital that leaders of EMS teams not only establish a productive team environment, but that they give regular and consistent praise for hard work provided by the team and its members, and show gratitude for the efforts that it takes to perform in such a challenging line of work.
Leaders who encourage a positive team environment:
• Avoid applying undue stress and uncertainty to their team members
• Decrease the amount of time spent feeling lost and alone for new members of the team
• Set clear expectations of their team members’ responsibilities
After all, history has also shown us that positive leaders who often provide praise and gratitude are pivotal to their team’s performance, and this can go a long way towards improving any EMS team.
Effects to the organization from providing regular praise, gratitude, encouragement, and positivity to EMS teams:
The U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics reports that one of the main reasons a person leaves an organization is because they do not feel appreciated. Studies have shown that workers in healthcare who report to supervisors that they do not respect, like, or feel appreciated by leads to an increase in their stress levels which subsequently significantly raises their blood pressure. These factors are a big problem for any healthcare organization, especially for a high-stress industry such as EMS. As an organization that strives to make improvements through praise, gratitude, and encouragement you will find several positive effects as a result including:
• Increased retention: People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad supervisors, managers, and bosses who don’t appreciate their value. People who begin to feel as if they are just a number, that their hard work goes unnoticed, or that they only receive attention from their leaders when there is a perceived problem are more inclined to feel unsatisfied in their work environment. These factors can lead a great employee to leave a great organization. However, when people feel as though they are a valued team member who is given regular appreciation and recognition for their everyday efforts to perform well, they are far less likely to leave that great organization and far more likely to feel satisfied in their work environment.
• Improved safety records and fewer on-the-job accidents: People who have a sense of connectedness to their organizations feel strongly connected to their work and subsequently, pay greater attention to detail. These facets lead to team members who are more focused and able to perform better at work. Higher levels of awareness and performance lead to team members who are aware of their surroundings and limitations, which leads to fewer accidents and improved overall safety of the organization.
• Higher morale: Working in healthcare is a stressful calling, especially for those who are called to the field of EMS. Organizations who recognize this and emphasize providing a leadership team that is positive, outgoing, and approachable can do wonders for increasing their team’s morale. Teams with positive leaders are not only more effective in their work but are happier to perform their roles.
• Improved performance and work efforts: We all respond positively to praise; it is in our nature. A leader who makes efforts to show that they are aware of a job well done, and not only focused on team members who need improvement, shows their team that they are fully invested in their overall performance and well-being. Leaders who emphasize regular positive feedback for work-well-done and efforts to perform well often see team members who take pride in their work and strive to deliver at a higher level.
• Stronger team relationships: People who feel as though they are a valued member of a team tend to be happier, and happy people tend to have more positive relationships. Leaders who cultivate a healthy team mindset are significantly contributing to teams that have strong, positive relationships with one another.
Working in the EMS industry often means working in an environment that is stressful, emotionally draining, and exhausting. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is a thankless job. Because of this, it should be a top priority to ensure that EMS team members feel their efforts are valued and that they matter. Their supervisor team should serve to raise them up and make efforts to avoid complicating an already difficult job.
Team leaders and supervisors should strive to make positive impacts on the team, even when dealing with negative or stressful situations. Positive effects can best be achieved by acknowledging the positive work that team members perform; this is especially true if done in conjunction with giving constructive criticism or negative feedback. For example, when approaching a team member about longer than desired call times, be sure to acknowledge their dedication to making sure their patients receive the quality of care that the organization strives to achieve on the call. Positively reinforcing good behaviors and providing positive feedback should be performed regularly and will ultimately result in improvements to the team.
3 ways team leaders and members can begin building a culture of steady gratitude and praise:
1. Acknowledge milestones and accomplishments: When
someone reaches a milestone, achieves a feat, or performs well it should be celebrated. Small tokens of recognition such as a thank you card, a high-five, or an announcement in an email take little time and go a long way. Large symbols of recognition such as additional vacation time, a gift card, or receiving a plaque for service, efforts, or significant career accomplishments are of little cost to the organization and make a substantial positive impact to the team member.
2. Establish connections: Whenever an EMS team goes above and
beyond their call of duty to perform their job they should be connected with the individuals they helped to serve. Delivering a baby, saving a life, or just making a patient feel safe and comfortable on a run should always result in some form of positive recognition. Making connections with those individuals and the EMS team either shortly after the run or even on the anniversary of the run can help the EMS team feel that the work they do and their dedication to the job have lasting value.
3. Recognize their years of service: Team members are aware of
how long they have dedicated themselves to their calling at all times, especially in EMS. Being recognized for their service, be it one year or twenty, is crucial to them. Recognition for early years of service can quickly be awarded by a service pin, a social media post, or a company email or bulletin notice. Recognition for long years of service such as 5, 10, or even 20 years should have a little more effort placed into them. Service plaques, recognition at a manager and executive team meeting, extra vacation time, and gift cards are just a few examples that will lead to a fulfilled team member who feels valued.
Regardless of your organization’s plan for action, studies have shown us that providing positive feedback, regular recognition, and praise in the workplace comes with no adverse outcomes. Moreover, the results of such studies have helped many organizations see a substantial positive increase in team members and team leaders’ satisfaction and performance.