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July 2, 2024/Nursing/Wellness

Research Shows How Nurse-Led Workplace Celebrations Boost Caregivers’ Morale

Impromptu events help nurses feel recognized, honored

Pop-up caregiver celebration

The workplace recognition of nursing caregivers — typically in the form of planned celebrations and formal awards — has long been associated with higher-quality patient care, greater staff retention, improved teamwork and high morale. However, little is known about the value of unplanned celebrations led by nurse leaders and targeting nursing caregivers.


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In an effort to learn more, Cleveland Clinic nurse researchers have examined the value of surprise pop-up events by asking caregivers to describe their perceptions of these impromptu celebrations.

Josalyn Meyer, MSN, RN, NE-BC, a founding member of Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse Retention Council at main campus, explains the research began to take shape as she and her council colleagues discussed new ways to build team morale and reduce caregiver stress.

“Our team was excited about developing new ways for nurses to honor and motivate each other,” she says. “The topic generated a lot of conversation, and we thought it would be fun to catch nurses off guard — surprise them with an unexpected celebration. Before long, we were planning pop-up events to greet and thank caregivers from all areas of the institution.”

Getting started

Meyer and study co-investigator Tonya Moyse, MSN, RN, had a hunch the events would be well received, but they knew a formal study would be needed to truly gauge their value.

“Although the concept of pop-up celebrations generated lots of enthusiasm among our leaders, we thought the long-term viability of these events would depend, to some degree, on supporting evidence,” says Moyse, Clinical Nursing Director at main campus.

Meyer and Moyse got started by collaborating with other nurse leaders and volunteers to plan and schedule a series of pop-up events at a variety of Cleveland Clinic facilities. The celebrations, many of which were themed, included signs, music, goodie bags and snacks. One event allowed caregivers to participate in pet therapy, and another featured a selfie photo station. Some of the “parties” were roving, while others were stationary.

“Almost immediately, we began receiving emails from nurses asking to be
involved,” says Moyse. “We were thrilled by the widespread enthusiasm but anxious to know more about how these experiences could positively
affect caregivers.”

Study specifics

Following a series of pop-up events held between August and November 2019, the researchers surveyed a cohort of nurses to evaluate their general attitudes about the events and how they may have shaped morale. Of 918 nursing participants, 165 (18%) reported attending a celebration, and 763 (82%) did not. The majority of attendees (88.1%) were registered nurses.

In general, nurse leader-planned pop-up celebrations were viewed favorably and associated with an internal locus of control, positive morale and feelings of being appreciated.

Meyer, Clinical Nursing Director at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, says those who helped plan the pop-ups expressed particular pride in their involvement. Their survey comments included, “[The event] kept a smile on my face the entire day,” and “Great for morale boost during tough times!” One respondent observed, “An energetic greeting and a simple thank-you goes a long way.”


Caregivers who were on the receiving end of the celebrations provided equally glowing reviews. Quotes included, “I have been waiting to be welcomed to work like this my whole life!” and “WOW, what an incredible way to start the day. Thank you! [It felt like] I was mentally defibrillated when entering the door. My day hasn’t changed...[ but] my outlook certainly has.”

Moving forward

Although pop-up events have been temporarily paused, Meyer says the team is looking forward to growing and evolving. In the future, the team hopes to see other nursing groups follow in their footsteps.

“We hope our findings will spark interest and inspire others to hold pop-up events for their nursing teams,” adds Moyse. “We’ve learned that you don’t need much more than energy — and maybe a little creativity — to make caregivers feel seen and appreciated.”


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