Volunteers are an important part of any organization, especially within the healthcare industry. It is there where they best provide emotional support, listening ears, smiles, and much more for everyone around them, from residents to medical staff. In 1974, President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week as an opportunity for organizations across America to show appreciation for volunteers, but there are plenty of reasons to find time for healthcare volunteer recognition and recognize these dedicated individuals any day of the year! Read on to learn a few fun ways you can celebrate your volunteers and the essential work they do for your organization.
Focus on Food!
- Invite volunteers to a complimentary breakfast or luncheon in their honor. It’s a great way to energize and appreciate them, plus it gives volunteers a chance to relax and chat, make new friends, and enjoy a nice meal. Decorate the lobby of your facility with balloons to greet the volunteers when they arrive. Following the meal, give a short speech highlighting the importance of the work volunteers do, possibly utilizing specific examples or testimonials from your residents and staff.
- Host an outdoor BBQ or picnic for volunteers, and encourage them to invite their families. Make it a fun, health-centered event for everyone. Offer veggie-centric foods with a variety of green salads, meatless burgers, and veggie kebabs, or have staff members create healthy dishes for a potluck picnic. Plan active games, such as a sack race, hopscotch, or scavenger hunt, and invite guest speakers who can help encourage your volunteers to live healthy lifestyles. After all, the good health of your volunteers impacts the health of your organization.
- Hold a game night for your volunteers, and include a raffle in the evening’s festivities. Invite staff members to attend as well. Seek out donations for the raffle from area businesses, and give prizes to game winners. Make sure to have a few extra tokens of appreciation on hand so all volunteers feel recognized, even if they don’t win a prize. Take time during the event to let volunteers share stories about why your organization is important to them, and invite staff members to speak about great experiences they’ve had with your volunteers.
Red Carpet Recognition
- Roll out a red carpet for volunteers with an all-star-themed party. Decorate the party space with gold stars, including a wall of stars—one for each volunteer with his or her name on it. Encourage volunteers to dress up, and be sure many pictures are taken, either in a rented selfie station or by a professional photographer. Offer an array of party snacks, including a veggie platter with various dips and cut fresh fruit with yogurt or fondue. Hand a unique award or certificate to every volunteer. Allow each one time to give an “acceptance speech” when receiving his/her award. To cap off the night, give a toast to your volunteers with sparkling cider.
Send a Clear Message
- In addition to hosting an appreciation event, recognize your volunteers in internal communications. Write up an article for your next company e-newsletter, calling out specific volunteers and highlighting their roles, and listing all others by name to thank them individually. You can also put your gratitude on display every day by posting photos and write-ups about volunteers in a common area of your facility. Additionally, ask staff members to write thank-you notes to specific volunteers who’ve helped them, so those volunteers can see firsthand how much they mean to others at your organization.
Remember, celebrating your volunteers doesn’t have to be limited to National Volunteer Week. Keep them motivated and appreciated all year long with gestures of appreciation! Take time each month to personally thank your volunteers, no matter how long or how often they’ve been volunteering their time and services. A simple thanks always goes a long way.
If you have any successful ways you have acknowledged and inspired your own volunteers or taken the time to focus on healthcare volunteer recognition, please comment below! We’d love to hear from you!