The Importance of Meaningful Nursing Faculty Recognition: Influencing and Advancing a Caring Workplace Culture

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 9:20 AM

Linda M. Hollinger-Smith, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN
Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Research, Chamberlain University, Downers Grove, IL, USA
Susan L. Groenwald, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN
Chamberlain University, Downers Grove, IL, USA

It is well recognized that nursing faculty shortages have a direct impact on nursing shortages and will continue into the future as the waves of nursing faculty retiring grow nationwide (AACN, 2015). While factors such as uncompetitive faculty salaries compared to administrative or practice positions, greater focus on doctoral preparation of nursing faculty, and heavy teaching workloads have been identified as contributing to faculty shortages, there has been less emphasis on the impact of a supportive, caring workplace culture to recruit and retain competent nursing faculty. Additionally, understanding faculty’s expectations and the importance they may place on aspects of a caring workplace culture have not been studied to a great extent (Brett,, 2014).

Nursing faculty’s satisfaction with supportive work environments has focused primarily on factors including salary, resources and work space, opportunities for development and promotion, workload requirements and expectations, and nursing program reputation (Baker, et. A., 2011). Socioemotional support of nursing faculty, operationalized as caring mentor relationships, has been associated with greater work satisfaction and retention particularly among new nursing faculty (Dunham-Taylor, et. al., 2008; Cash,, 2011). Addressing the literature gap to understand nursing faculty’s perceptions of a caring work environment, Kuehn (2010) conducted a phenomenological study of a caring academic environment. She identified an important theme related to faculty feeling valued through both formal and information recognition which they described as meaningful and directly associated with contributions and efforts as part of their roles. 

Meaningful recognition, in both formal and informal practices, is an important part of motivating, engaging, rewarding, and retaining nursing faculty. It is well documented in workforce research that recognition has multiple benefits to both the employee and the organization including: improved morale, greater job satisfaction, and improved retention, all of which are vital to an engaged and productive workforce (Lefton, 2012). Because of many competing priorities, faculty leadership and peers may not provide consistent, meaningful recognition to faculty for their valuable academic, professional, and scholarly contributions. There is little known about the impact of meaningful recognition on nursing faculty’s perceptions of feeling valued and cared for by the organization, as well as understanding the reciprocal nature of recognition.

The presenters discuss results of an exploratory study of faculty’s perceptions of meaningful recognition as a central core value of a caring workplace culture which has demonstrated consistently high levels of faculty engagement, increased participation in faculty’s lifelong learning, improved retention, and positive job satisfaction. The study was conducted at a large nursing college with multiple pre-licensure BSN campuses and online post-licensure programs. Over 740 nursing faculty completed the Faculty Recognition Survey developed by the researchers (64% response rate). Receiving recognition in the following areas were rated as most important by nursing faculty: excellence in teaching, overall job performance, and going “above and beyond” in their roles. Faculty also reported it was more important to give than receive informal recognition.

Discriminant analyses identified key factors differentiating faculty who agreed or disagreed they experienced recognition efforts that motivate them to give their best efforts and contribute to feeling cared for by their organization. Top discriminating factors include: 1) feeling my input is valued by my college; 2) expectations for recognizing overall job performance are met; and 3) feeling informed about key issues relevant to my role. Factors which faculty identified as most impactful on their work performance related to a caring workplace culture include: 1) feeling information about key issues relevant to my role; 2) feeling that my workload is appropriate; and 3) expectations for recognizing my work mentoring students or peers are met. Qualitative findings from faculty open-ended comments are also shared to highlight particular study findings.

Study findings support the importance of providing meaningful recognition for nursing faculty’s contributions in addition to conveying the motivating effects of recognition on work performance, engagement, and retention. Findings of this study provide key implications for academic nursing leaders that may be used to promote a caring workplace culture for faculty, enhance their career satisfaction, and support nursing faculty recruitment and retention initiatives.