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The 5 C’s of a Strong, Positive Practice Culture

Updated: May 3

These days, finding top talent isn’t nearly as challenging as retaining them. So, how can you ensure that once you snag a few of those ‘A-players,’ they won’t jump ship as soon as the next opportunity comes along? One important factor is the culture within your practice. If your current culture could use a bit of a facelift, or you’ve not yet found your practice identity and could use a little guidance, here are five key elements of a culture employees will thrive in.

Core Values

The values you develop for your practice should serve as a compass, guiding every decision made and every action taken by you and your employees. They should define who you are and what differentiates you from other clinics in the area. Essentially, they should give you a true identity. To be effective, however, your core values must be clearly defined, regularly communicated and consistently executed. Here at DVMelite, our internal team reiterates our core values at every meeting, tying them into every facet of our business.


Another key component of a strong, positive company culture is open, honest communication. You want your employees to feel as though their thoughts, opinions and feedback are welcome. When people feel heard, they become much more engaged and plugged in. Of course, it’s also important to remember that communication works both ways. Be sure to keep your team in the loop – especially when it comes to decisions that impact their day to day lives. Knowing what’s going on and why will help them feel a sense of control and contribution to the overall big picture.


Everyone wants to feel appreciated. It’s human nature. That said, you should routinely ask yourself if you are doing enough to recognize and reward your employees for a job well done. Regular celebrations, both public and private, are an important component of a solid company culture. Even if it’s just a shout out during your daily huddle, being acknowledged for their effort can go a long way toward establishing and strengthening that bond with your employees. And we’re not only referring to professional successes, either. Personal milestones should also be celebrated.


If an employee feels as though management views them as just another cog in the wheel, they’re much more likely to leave without giving it a second thought. To avoid this, you want to make a concerted effort to take an interest in your staff and demonstrate that not only do they add tremendous value to the team, but that you recognize and appreciate that contribution. Show your employees that you genuinely care about them. One great way to put this into action is to prioritize work-life balance.


Last, but not least, a good culture is one which employees feel invested in. Continuing education may be required per industry standards, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Provide your team with as many learning opportunities as possible. Allow and encourage them to pursue their interests, even if they aren’t necessarily job-related. Show them that you are committed to their growth, both professionally as well as personally. In return, they will continue to add even greater value to the team and your practice as a whole. In other words, it’s a win-win!

If you want to be the best clinic in town, you have to hire and retain the best employees. One of the most effective ways to do this is to create a culture in which your team members flourish. The more you invest in your practice culture, the easier it will be to build a dream team who will want to help your practice succeed.

Our Advice on The 5 C's of a Strong, Positive Practice Culture in 2024

How can veterinary practices effectively measure and assess the strength and positivity of their current culture?

Veterinary practices can effectively measure and assess the strength and positivity of their current culture through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Employee engagement surveys are a valuable tool, allowing staff to provide honest feedback on various aspects of the practice's culture, such as communication, leadership, and job satisfaction. These surveys can be conducted annually or semi-annually, with results benchmarked against previous years or industry standards. Additionally, practices can hold regular focus groups or one-on-one interviews with employees to gather more in-depth, qualitative insights. Key metrics, such as employee turnover rates, absenteeism, and client satisfaction scores, can also provide indirect indicators of the practice's cultural health. By regularly assessing these various data points, practices can identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement in their culture.

What role can employee feedback and surveys play in shaping and refining a practice's culture?

Employee feedback and surveys play a crucial role in shaping and refining a veterinary practice's culture. By providing a platform for staff to share their thoughts, experiences, and suggestions, these tools can help identify areas where the culture may be falling short of expectations. For example, if multiple employees report a lack of open communication or limited opportunities for growth, leadership can take targeted actions to address these concerns. Regularly conducted surveys can also track progress over time, revealing whether initiatives aimed at improving culture are having the desired effect. Furthermore, simply asking for feedback demonstrates to employees that their opinions are valued, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement in the practice's cultural development. Ultimately, employee feedback serves as a vital guidepost, enabling practices to continuously assess and adapt their culture to best support their team and mission.

How can veterinary practices ensure that their core values are not only communicated but also consistently embodied?

To ensure that core values are not only communicated but also consistently embodied, veterinary practices must take a multi-faceted approach. It starts with clear, frequent communication from leadership, explaining the meaning and importance of each value. However, words alone are not enough; leaders must also model these values in their own actions and decisions. Incorporating values into hiring, training, and performance evaluation processes can further reinforce their significance. For example, when considering candidates, practices should assess not only technical skills but also alignment with core values. Regularly recognizing and rewarding employees who exemplify these values can also help to ingrain them into the practice's culture. By weaving core values into every aspect of the organization, from daily interactions to major strategic decisions, veterinary practices can create a culture where these guiding principles are consistently lived out.

What are some innovative ways to demonstrate genuine care and concern for employees' well-being?

Veterinary practices can demonstrate genuine care and concern for employees' well-being through a variety of innovative initiatives. Beyond offering competitive benefits packages and promoting work-life balance, practices can implement wellness programs that focus on physical, mental, and emotional health. This could include providing access to gym memberships, meditation apps, or stress management workshops. Personalized gestures, such as celebrating birthdays or work anniversaries, can also make employees feel valued. Another impactful approach is to create a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing personal challenges or concerns with leadership or peers. This could involve establishing an open-door policy, hosting regular check-ins, or providing access to employee assistance programs. By proactively investing in their team's holistic well-being, veterinary practices can foster a culture of compassion, trust, and loyalty.

How can veterinary practices create a culture of continuous learning and growth?

Veterinary practices can create a culture of continuous learning and growth by making education and development a top priority. This starts with setting clear expectations during the onboarding process and providing comprehensive training programs that equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge. Regular lunch and learn sessions, where team members share their expertise or discuss industry trends, can foster a sense of shared learning. Practices can also invest in their employees' long-term growth by offering tuition reimbursement for relevant courses or certifications or by providing opportunities to attend conferences and workshops. Encouraging cross-functional collaboration and mentorship can further promote knowledge sharing and skill development. By allocating time and resources to support ongoing learning initiatives, veterinary practices demonstrate their commitment to their employees' professional growth, ultimately contributing to a more engaged, skilled, and adaptable workforce.

Want more practice management tips and tricks? Bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh, relevant content.

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