Morale Boosting Fails – Mistakes to Avoid in Your Veterinary Practice

We’ve recently shared some tell-tale signs that your veterinary practice is in desperate need of a cultural overhaul, but what about the plan to get things back on track? In addition to knowing what the right steps are, it can be equally helpful to understand what not to do so as to avoid going down the wrong path.

Having worked with hundreds of practices, the team at DVMelite has witnessed firsthand what so-called “morale boosters” actually tend to have the opposite effect of their intended purpose. If you’re in the process of trying to get your team happier and more engaged, here are a few things you shouldn’t do.

Promoting Under Qualified Staff

It’s understandable why you might want to select a candidate from within to fill an open position. After all, isn’t demonstrating the growth opportunities you have to offer a great way to improve employee satisfaction? Well, yes and no. The problem is, if you aren’t careful about who you choose, it could result in significant negative repercussions.

Remember that a track record of success in one position doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate will perform equally well in a higher role. Additionally, a long work history doesn’t automatically qualify an employee to move up. In many cases, it may actually be better to hire externally.

Ignoring Problem Employees

You’ve surely heard the term “one bad apple spoils the bunch.” This is true in just about any workplace, including veterinary offices. Even those who have the right attitude and the best intentions can find it challenging not to be pulled down by that one individual who is always causing problems. (You’d be surprised at how many toxic situations we’ve helped our DVMelite clients uncover and deal with.)

If you aren’t dealing with staffing issues in a timely and effective manner, you could very well end up losing the employees who you value the most. In fact, toxic employees could even be costing your practice business, so do what needs to be done, even if it’s not the most pleasant of tasks.

Creating Divisive Incentive Programs

Many of the practice owners we’ve worked with at DVMelite over the years have fallen into the trap of implementing unintentionally divisive incentive programs that ultimately had the opposite effect on employee morale. Incentive programs – such as contests – can be a great tool for increasing engagement, but only if everyone can participate on an equal level. Otherwise, if a plan leaves anyone feeling left out, rifts are created, defeating the purpose.

The reality is, successful veterinary practices place an emphasis on teamwork versus individual accomplishments. Be careful not to create an environment in which individualism and unhealthy competition are allowed to fester.

Approaching Morale as a One-Time Project or Quick Fix

Finally, it’s important to treat the topic of boosting morale as a long-term, ongoing effort rather than a one-time project or worse – a quick fix. Boosting engagement and employee happiness is something that takes time. It’s not something you can simply set a deadline to achieve and then move onto something else.

Instead, in many cases, it requires an entire cultural evolution from within the practice. If you are seeking a shift in morale within your veterinary clinic, it’s time to start working on a long-term strategy that will help you to achieve ongoing, sustainable results over time.

If there’s one important thing we’ve learned from working with countless veterinary practices over the years it’s that there is a right way and a wrong way to improve employee morale. Being aware of the common mistakes made by others that have gone before you (such as those listed above), can dramatically improve the outcome for your own practice.

If you could use some guidance with this or any other area of practice management and growth we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.