Ways to Improve Veterinary Practice Morale in 2019

Battling the winter blues can be a challenge for any working professional, but perhaps more so for those who pour their hearts and souls into caring for our beloved furry companions. Burnout and compassion fatigue can strike at any time, but the shorter days and general energy dip that accompany the winter months are notoriously unmotivating. Here are a few ways you can improve veterinary practice morale in 2019.

1. Celebrate Superstar Staff

While veterinary technicians have their own special week of appreciation, what about the rest of the team? Celebrate the entire crew with a "Staff Appreciation Week." (And, this doesn't have to be limited to once per year!) Celebrate your team and improve veterinary practice morale by providing:

  • Professional massages during the workday
  • Personalized items
  • Pet care credits on their personal accounts
  • Happy hour after work
  • Local coffee shop coffee (rather than in-house)

2. Spring for Surprise Treats

Nothing improves veterinary practice morale quite as much as free food. Give the team a chance to "escape" the practice by scheduling an off-site lunch, eating in with a surprise catered lunch or pizza party, or overcoming the morning slump by having bagels and coffee delivered. For an afternoon pick-me-up, recharge everyone with a surprise ice cream party.

3. Engage Staff in a Reward Program

A friendly contest among staff members can boost engagement and morale throughout the entire year. As a team, choose a local charity you want to support for each quarter of 2019, and reward the staff members who raise the most money for the charity. Or, help your staff stay active by purchasing pedometers and rewarding those who take the most steps during a given time frame. Whichever sort of competition you pick, let the victor choose their reward from a grab bag of treats. Here are some ideas for your grab bag:

  • Gift card to a local business
  • Voucher for concert tickets or sporting events
  • New scrubs
  • Paid time off
  • Free lunch

4. Switch Up Staff Meetings

Does the thought of a staff meeting fill your employees with dread? Do they expect it to be a presentation of mistakes and mishaps? Turn these events into anticipated regular meetings by avoiding the blame game and spicing things up with fun, informative activities. Here are a few interactive veterinary staff meeting ideas:

  • Guess the Breed — Pit the doctors against support staff in this friendly contest to see who can match the most popular dog breeds with common genetic conditions.
  • Personality Quiz — Encourage your staff to characterize their personality traits and work styles. Make it veterinary-specific by searching for dog breed personality profiles. Are your client care representatives golden retrievers? Or, are your technicians border collies?
  • CE Presentation — Continuing education is a wonderful idea for improving veterinary clinic efficiency by learning new tricks of the trade. At each meeting, empower a staff member to discuss new research regarding a topic she is passionate about.
  • Role-Playing — Give team members the opportunity to "walk in each other's shoes" so they can better understand the difficulties different positions in the practice regularly face. You supply the scenarios, while the team members improv and make the situations their own. Goofy antics are encouraged to make this experience entertaining.
    Some examples:
    • The scenario: A client is upset after seeing her invoice at checkout and is taking her frustration out on the client care representative.
      The client care representative role is played by a veterinarian.
      The client role is played by a client care representative.
    • The scenario: A veterinarian has to have the "healthy pet weight" talk with a client who is overweight herself.
      The veterinarian role is played by a technician.
      The client role is played by a veterinarian.
    • The scenario: A technician is attempting to draw blood from a patient, and the veterinarian steps in to "show her how it's done."
      The technician role is played by a veterinarian.
      The veterinarian role is played by a technician.

5. Be Quick to Praise

When you let employees know that they're doing a good job, they'll keep doing a good job, and you'll improve morale as a result. Be mindful of what's going on around you. Pay attention to the tasks — no matter how seemingly small — everyone is performing. Make it a point to call out a job well-done, and you'll notice an immediate improvement in your veterinary practice morale.

 


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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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