Thanking employees for a job well done

Three employees of the Penacook Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center were big winners in the grand prize drawing at the end of the fi rst year of the LEEP incentive program. They are (from left to right) CNA Jazmin Mendoza ($400); CNA/RA Denise Gallant ($200); and CNA Griselda Padilla ($100)

At the Penacook Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, managers keep a careful eye on all their employees—not to criticize, but to reward.

An innovative incentive program conceived by the Life Enhancement and Empowerment Principles (LEEP) Committee, rewards employees for going above and beyond their normal job responsibilities. The program is a big hit with employees, managers, supervisors, residents, and their families.

“This program had done a lot to improve employee morale,” says Leah Doherty, director of human resources for the 160-bed, not-for-profit facility in Haverhill, Massachusetts. “Employees are now looking a little harder for ways to do more for their coworkers and residents.”

Whenever a manager, supervisor, resident, or family member notices an employee going out of their way to help, they let the employee’s supervisor know (in the case of residents or family members) so the staff member can be rewarded. When the employee collects 10 LEEP dollars, he or she can redeem them for gas cards or supermarket gift cards. LEEP dollars can also be saved for items from a gift catalog.

“However, with the price of gas and groceries, most employees opt for the gift cards,” Doherty says. “They’re very appreciative of the benefit.”

Since the program’s inception in June 2006, more than 150 employees have redeemed LEEP dollars. The idea for the incentive program came from the LEEP Committee, comprised of residents, staff and family members. The committee is charged with creating a more home-like setting at Penacook and has worked on projects such as enhancing the dining experience to include more choices and home-like meals and establishing “neighborhood communities” within Penacook so that residents feel more connected with each other.

“The LEEP dollars program was launched as a way to give some well-deserved, on-the-spot recognition to employees in all departments who go the extra mile,” says Chief Operating Officer Charles Carrozza. “It gets residents and families involved because staff members who have made life better for them in some way will be rewarded.”

Jean Jovell, a charge nurse, says she has had fun “catching” employees in the act of doing something above and beyond their job function. “I have given LEEP dollars to employees who just pitch in and help other employees without even being asked who may be having a bad day,” Jovell says. “We had one employee who sat with an agitated resident for over an hour just trying to calm her. Another aide came in every hour to turn a dying resident and to see if the family was comfortable.” She also says that if an employee calls in sick and another one comes in on his or her day off, they are rewarded with LEEP dollars. Penacook’s Employee Fund helps support the incentive program. Families of residents who want to express appreciation to the Penacook staff have the option of making a donation to the Employee Fund, which helps finance various employee recognition efforts. At the end of the program’s first anniversary this past June, the facility had a raffle, further rewarding employees who had already won LEEP dollars. Each winner who earned a dollar throughout the year (about $3,000 in all), was entered in the drawing. Three cash prizes were awarded. Three centenarian residents drew the winning names at an ice cream party held on Penacook’s patio in early June. The winners were Certified Nursing Assistant Jazmin Mendoza ($400); Certified Nursing Assistant/Restorative Aide Denise Gallant ($200); and Certified Nursing Assistant Griselda Padilla ($100).

“We also announced that we would be continuing the program,” Doherty says. “We recommunicated it to managers and supervisors who then let the employees know.”

Penacook Place is the only not-for-profit nursing and rehabilitation facility in Haverhill.

For information on Penacook Place’s LEEP dollar program, contact Leah Doherty at (987) 374-0707. To send your comments to the author and editors, please e-mail

Topics: Articles , Leadership , Staffing