Healthy Workforce

11 Ways to Celebrate your Coworkers

These acts of kindness will create a more positive workplace for everyone

While this column is often focused on managing negative workplace issues like bullying and incivility, it’s also important to celebrate the positive: namely, the wonderful coworkers who make our jobs easier and better!

Taking time to show your appreciation for outstanding colleagues fosters a more positive work environment and strengthens professional relationships. How can you get started? I had some ideas, but I also reached out to my Healthy Workforce Institute community on Facebook, which offered many great suggestions and comments. Here’s what we came up with.

Ways to Celebrate

  1. Say something in the moment. Celebrations don’t have to be fancy. Saying something like “Thank you, you are a lifesaver!” or those priceless words, “You are awesome!” has a long-lasting positive effect on anyone’s day.
  2. Shout-out to the team. Every department has a weekly or monthly staff meeting. Take a little time at that meeting to share some wins and thank-yous with the team.
  3. Send a complimentary email (or, better yet, a handwritten note). Take a moment to send an email of gratitude to a coworker, and cc others on your team. In our Facebook group, Jennifer, a per diem nurse, recalled that she was so proud of her team’s work during a code situation that she wrote an appreciative email. “My leader forwarded it to the entire department, and it began an outpouring of replies of celebration to all,” she says. Also, there’s something about a handwritten note (even a Post-It note) that makes me smile. Taking the time to write or draw a heartfelt positive message is a small gesture that will make the recipient feel valued.
  4. Post on social media. Most of us are on social media, so using the platforms is a convenient way to endorse your coworkers. Not only do other team members get to see the post, but friends and family do too. (Just keep it professional, pay attention to HIPAA, and respect your organization’s social media policy.)
  5. Celebrate with snacks and candy. Sweet treats are a tasty way to reward a team member or a whole group. Of course, you can also choose healthy options, but I find a celebration isn’t complete without a few calories attached to it. Sandi on Facebook recalls, “My bosses got a soft pretzel tray to celebrate when I got my BSN. It was such a nice surprise.”
  6. Decorate your workspace. Signs, banners, and decorations can help put pep in someone’s step. Sue on Facebook writes, “One birthday, my office was filled with balloons and a banner. Night shift had taken time out of their busy shift to celebrate with me.”
  7. Order a thank-you lunch. When times are crazy and large groups are hungry, it is time to order pizza. It’s also a great way to acknowledge extra effort when the whole team has stepped up during a difficult period.
  8. Arrange a surprise coffee break. We can all use a pick-me-up mid-shift to celebrate victories of the moment. This will be especially appreciated by team members who’ve been too busy to step away, giving them a chance to pause and take a breath.
  9. Organize a potluck. This was a popular suggestion in the Facebook group. As Miles writes, “Every month, we host a diversity lunch where you are encouraged to bring in an ethnic food from your family of origin. Then, we share recipes and family stories.” What an amazing team-bonding activity!
  10. Nominate someone for an award. There are many awards that spotlight a team member’s excellence, from department employee of the month to a DAISY Award. The nomination itself can turn into a reason to celebrate.
  11. Hold a milestone celebration party. Many departments like to commemorate events like the arrival of new hires, staff moving on or retiring, weddings and baby showers — you name it. On Facebook, Gemma recalled, “At my leaving party, I received an antique ginger jar filled with crystallized ginger pieces. It was beautiful.”

We all like to be celebrated, and connecting with coworkers in positive ways helps us all to be better nurses.

RENEE THOMPSON, RN, DNP, FAAN, CSP, is the CEO and founder of the Healthy Workforce Institute (

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