Keeping employee morale high can be a challenge in any industry, but given the emotional nature of animal health care, maximizing employee satisfaction in the veterinary field can be quite the uphill battle. Burnout and compassion fatigue are very real and often devastating issues to deal with, on top of the normal rote of daily routine.
If you’ve noticed a dip in attitude from your staff lately, or you’d just like to get a jump on cultural improvement for the coming year, here are a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
Celebrate openly and often
Never underestimate the power of a pat on the back. Your crew works tirelessly, day in and day out, to keep clients happy and patients well. Be generous with your gratitude and recognition. There are plenty of ways to do this, from shout-outs in the daily huddle to gift cards, cash bonuses, extra time off and more.
If you’re unsure of how to best reward your team, take some time to get to know each employee on an individual level. Find out what motivates and matters most to them. Then, personalize your gestures of appreciation accordingly.
Spring for some surprises
Ever receive a card, bouquet of flowers or gift from someone “just because”? It’s one of the most incredible feelings in the world. As a practice owner or practice manager, you can harness that feel-good factor within your clinic by randomly surprising your team from time to time.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything expensive or extravagant, either. Picking up donuts or bagels on the way in on a Friday, or ordering pizza for lunch one rainy Wednesday could easily be enough to brighten your staffs’ day and show them you genuinely appreciate and care about them.
Set up a formal program
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to boost engagement. And statistics have consistently proven that employees who are more engaged tend to have a higher morale overall. You can set up a contest that’s work related, such as the employee who wins the most new client referrals, or you could make it about wellness, like a weight loss or walking competition.
The prize(s) at the end could range from bragging rights to monetary rewards to charitable donations, or whatever works best for your team. Again, take some time to get input on what each employee is into and then work around that.
MMFA (Make Meetings Fun Again)
Do you have important stuff to cover in your staff meetings? Of course you do. Does that mean every moment of every get-together has to be stiff, boring and clinical? Of course NOT!
Balance out your meetings by incorporating fun, informative activities. Not only will this get your team more engaged (and remember, engaged employees = higher morale), but it’ll also make the workplace environment more enjoyable for everyone, as that happiness will naturally trickle down to your clients.
A few fun ideas for spicing up staff meetings:
Guess the Breed – List common genetic conditions or features and have staff try to figure out which breed you’re showcasing.
Role Play – Provide scenarios for each team member that involves someone else’s job. For instance, ask one of your vet techs to role play how they’d handle a call with an irate client. This is a great learning activity that also garners respect and appreciation because it gives employees a chance to walk in one another’s shoes.
Personality Match – Ask each team member to pick an animal or breed that they feel most closely represents their own personality and explain why (or better yet – have team members choose for each other).
CE Presentation – Encourage staff members to select continuing education topics that they’re passionate about, then have them each research and present what they’ve learned to the rest of the team.
Focus on the little things
Sometimes we get so caught up in chasing after those bigger goals that we lose sight of the smaller accomplishments that are happening along the way on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this can the kiss of death in terms of morale.
Your employees are all working hard to achieve their own objectives. Be mindful of those small victories and celebrate them every chance you get. Never miss an opportunity to demonstrate how important each individual team member is and how they fit in with the big picture.
Making your employees happy for a moment might be easy enough, but keeping them satisfied for the long haul is a whole different ball game. The five tips above should provide a decent foundation upon which you can build a positive and lasting practice culture that your employees will love to be a part of.