7 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Team This Holiday Season

If your team is battle-worn from another rough year in the veterinary trenches, lift them up this holiday season with personal gestures that show gratitude and appreciation. It's not just an investment in their well-being, but an investment in your practice's financial future.

Here are seven ways you can express gratitude to your team and make an impact.

1. Say "Thank You" the Right Way

The most instant and inexpensive way to show gratitude is simply to say, "Thank you." But, merely tossing around a generic "thanks" may dilute its effectiveness. Consider the following to be more intentional this holiday season.

  • Keep it timely: Don't wait until the end of the day or a quieter time; you won't find one. Express your gratitude when you notice their efforts.

  • Be authentic: Pause and sincerely connect with the team member. It will mean much more than tossing a casual compliment over your shoulder as you walk away.

  • Get specific: Make your gratitude specific. For example, you might say, "Thanks so much for stepping up and taking that appointment—that client can be challenging." This is a more personal and memorable compliment for the recipient. Or, you might write a personal message to each team member highlighting the specific talents and attributes they bring to the practice.

  • Make it frequent: Don't wait for success; recognize effort and progress. If you see a team member trying, tell them how much you appreciate their attempt and encourage them to keep it up.

2. Stuff Their Holiday Card

Try to match gift cards to the team member's specific interests or include a personal note in the card hinting toward something you know your employee is saving for or enjoys (e.g., "Here's a little shopping money for your trip to Florida!").

3. Present Awards

For a fun team-building event, schedule a team meeting and provide a surprise catered lunch. Then, rather than a meeting, give out fun awards to your team that recognize each employee with a trophy or prize. Categories can be topical, reference your practice's inside jokes, or mimic superlatives.

  • Most likely to: Choose fun award categories, such as most likely to get trapped with a chatty client, misplace their stethoscope, go "techless and reckless" (i.e., the unsupervised DVM award), or charm an aggressive cat.

  • Best: You can also recognize your team's skills with awards that include the best catheter taping technique, wild pug or Frenchie restraint, foreign body extraction, MacGyver hack, or smooth talker to pets and parents. As any practice owner or manager knows, celebrating those little wins can make a big difference.

4. Refresh Your Break Room

Take a hard look at your employee break room. The fluorescent lights, broken table, and old furniture may be telling your team members you only care about them when they're on the clock. Spring for a few comfortable lounge chairs, replace the folding table with a real kitchen table, or sign up for a gourmet coffee or healthy snack subscription box for year-round appreciation.

5. Recognize Your Team

You know you have the best team members, so why aren't you bragging about them? Everyone—including your introverted team members—appreciates being celebrated for a job well done. Use your social media channels to spotlight the team, and tell clients in person about the awesome customer service representatives, technicians, and assistants who help with their pet's appointment.

6. Host a Food Truck Day

If you have a sizable parking area, request a local food truck—or a variety of trucks—to set up in your lot for the afternoon. Provide an extended lunch break so team members have time to order and truly enjoy their food. At the very least, food trucks are one of many ways to bring fun back into the office.

7. Give the Gift of Time

If there's room in the budget and the schedule, give your team an extra vacation day or half-day off. Although this may feel impossible when you're already short-staffed, a short-term compromise may save your valuable employees from burning out completely.

Gratitude doesn't have to be costly, but it must be consistent and sincere. No matter what level suits your practice, be intentional with your efforts. The holidays are a perfect time to express gratitude and true appreciation to your team.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at sarahrumple.com.

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