‘There is little success where there is little laughter’- Andrew Carnegie (Entrepreneur)
As vets, we spend a lot of our time at work- around 57 hours a week, to be precise1. Given how much of our lives we dedicate to our jobs, there is a strong argument to be made that employers should take steps to maximize workplace satisfaction and gratification.
This is not just a moral necessity, but also a business one, given how much of a role workplace happiness plays in retention, productivity, and, ultimately, organizational success2.
In this article, we discuss the three ways in which you can maximize the happiness of your veterinary team, drawing from the latest research in the field.
Nurture Employee Growth
A lot of satisfaction in veterinary clinical staff comes from professional development.
According to data, around 37% of vets derive pleasure through utilizing their veterinary expertise. This can be through learning new skills or succeeding in diagnosing difficult cases.
One way in which you can nurture employee growth is through effective performance meetings. Sit down with each team member, one-on-one, and work together to outline objectives that align their interests to your business needs, then set out timelines and actions which you can track over the year.
In addition to performance meetings where action towards achieving goals is the focus, managers and practice owners can offer support in other ways.
Offering journal subscriptions, mentoring services, and encouraging team members to share what they learn can all be great ways to bolster professional development efforts. Recognizing and rewarding the efforts of your team can also boost morale and create a ‘culture of growth’ in your practice- something that is sure to increase happiness and feelings of gratitude.
Positive Workplace Characteristics
When it comes to workplace happiness, many employees garner pleasure from factors related to ‘workplace characteristics’. Workplace characteristics refer to some tangible and intangible elements of a job and workplace that combine to create the overall experience.
Around 38% of vets derive pleasure from case-related aspects of their job (i.e, having diverse caseloads, or being able to use expert skills on particular cases or relationships in their practice). Case complexity can be a wonderfully energizing challenge. But not, perhaps, when accompanied by overwhelming case volume. So taking steps as a manager to address workload, while allowing a variety of problems to be solved by your clinical team is likely to be well received.
Consider also what incentives you can offer to your team so practice life can fit market expectations. Can you, for example, provide a certain degree of flexibility for working parents in your practice? Or perhaps encourage systems where specific cases are directed to an employee with a particular interest?
The options here are diverse and incentives can be personalized and specific to your practice. Not all businesses can offer pay-rises or flexible working, so it’s perfectly acceptable to work with your strengths when you get creative about what incentives to offer3.
Good relationships are the foundations of happy veterinary practices.
Toxic veterinary workplaces, though common, can be seriously detrimental to the happiness of your employees. Toxic workplaces have higher staff turnover rates, lower levels of productivity, and higher levels of dissatisfaction compared to their non-toxic counterparts4.
Although there are many reasons why your practice may become toxic (see some of the reasons here), nurturing and encouraging close relationships between teammates can be a great way to increase workplace happiness.
Why don’t you offer some out-of-work team-building opportunities? It can be as simple as some after-work drinks or as intensive as a team-building weekend (bring on the trust falls). Whatever you opt to do, aim to create rapport in the team which can translate into the clinic.
Alternatively, you could offer some inter-team mentoring opportunities. This can be particularly helpful for new or inexperienced team members, who may be slightly unsure in themselves. Pairing mentors or mentees can help build bonds whilst simultaneously developing skill sets – the mentor wins too! It can also help your team build on their communication abilities, which can also be applied to other relationships – like those with clients5.
The Happiness Of Your Veterinary Team is Foundational To A Great Practice
Particularly in the current economic client, where staff turnover is high and retention low, prioritizing your team’s wellbeing has never been more imperative.
If you’re a practice owner or manager, you should check out our webinar. This leadership webinar will teach you how to run a successful practice (without the drama), teaching you how you can avoid common leadership mistakes in practice.
If you want to improve the happiness of your veterinary team, this is where you should start.
1- ‘Finding a good work–life balance | Veterinary Practice.’ 5 Feb. 2020, https://veterinary-practice.com/article/finding-a-good-work-life-balance. Accessed 14 Jul. 2021.
2- ‘Promoting Employee Happiness Benefits Everyone – Forbes.’ 13 Dec. 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/12/13/promoting-employee-happiness-benefits-everyone/. Accessed 2 Jul. 2021.
3- ‘Sources of pleasure in veterinary work: A qualitative study – Clise ….’ 5 Apr. 2021, https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/vetr.54. Accessed 2 Jul. 2021.
4- ‘Time’s Up for Toxic Workplaces – Harvard Business Review.’ 19 Jun. 2020, https://hbr.org/2020/06/times-up-for-toxic-workplaces. Accessed 2 Jul. 2021.
5- ‘Sources of pleasure in veterinary work: A qualitative study – Clise ….’ 5 Apr. 2021, https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/vetr.54. Accessed 2 Jul. 2021.