According to staff at ConnectRN, a jobs platform for nurses and certified nursing assistants, people in those professions aren’t always happy with the gifts employers provide. 

One chief nursing officer tweeted in January, “When I started at my current hospital the chief nursing officer (head nurse for the hospital) gave us all polished rocks that had inscriptions on them. Mine said ‘Hope.’ That’s what we’re worth to them.”

Given such dissatisfaction and reports of the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on nurses’ mental health, ConnectRN wanted to show its appreciation for nurses by launching a campaign, Nurses Weak Gifts, to highlight how underappreciated nurses feel.

The agency, which is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, wants nurses to share photos of their most ridiculous employer gifts on social media and tag ConnectRN. The campaign launched shortly before the annual National Nurses Week, which started on May 6. The company was set to give the first 1,200 people to submit their photos a gift.

“Nurses Week is an annual event where all of our healthcare institutions get together and disappoint nurses with how they decide to celebrate them,” said Ted Jeanloz, CEO of ConnectRN. “Our view has always been: we can do better. We can give better gifts than most people.”

The creative agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address pitched ConnectRN the idea of showing the bad gifts nurses receive and “highlighting the situation on the ground for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of nurses who are looking forward to getting like half a piece of pizza this Thursday,” said Jeanloz. 

In a September 2021 survey from the American Nurses Foundation, 21% of nurses said they planned to leave their job within the next six months. Among those wanting to leave, half said it was because work was negatively affecting their health and wellbeing.

“What we’re hearing from nurses is that they are very burned out. They feel underappreciated,” said Dini von Mueffling, founder and CEO of Dini von Mueffling Communications, which is leading public relations for the campaign.

With COVID-19 moving to an endemic stage, “the day-to-day for nurses is not as acutely stressful as it was two years ago,” said Jeanloz. During the peak of the pandemic, “nurses were genuinely and legitimately in fear for their lives and that of their family. And they don’t feel like that every day anymore. But we’ve had tens of thousands of nurses leave the profession. Everybody’s working unit is short-staffed. The work is harder.”

The company will provide gifts such as scented candles, gourmet chocolates and tea and mugs.

“They are all meant to have an impact where nurses can take some time and make some space for themselves,” said Jen Reddy, chief marketing officer for ConnectRN. “I think the ultimate goal for us is that we never have to run this campaign again.”

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