The past couple of years have been tough, especially for the veterinary industry, which has battled staffing shortages, product backorders, difficult clients, and tedious, time-consuming curbside protocols. However, veterinary professionals always meet a challenge and can see the positive in any situation. We have used this time to create innovative protocols, connect with clients in new ways, and work with what we have.
Not many professions have our resiliency, but veterinary practices could still use a morale boost. Reward your team for their continued dedication and devotion to patient and client care by making your veterinary practice a positive, forward-thinking environment where they love to work. Here are 10 ways you can boost your team’s morale—today.
#1: Offer a flexible work schedule
Whether to accommodate childcare, attend personal appointments, or create a healthier work-life balance, your team will appreciate a flexible work schedule. Rearrange the start and end times for a shift, make special accommodations for school drop-offs, and consider a shorter work week with longer shifts. These changes to the traditional work schedule can greatly increase job satisfaction.
#2: Pay a competitive wage
Veterinary support staff pay is subpar—veterinary technicians, for example, often make less than the poverty wage. Look closely at your accounts to find services where you undercharge, product overpayments, or excess inventory that loses money. Cut costs where you can, increase revenue, and pass those financial gains onto your team. An annual cost of living raise, paired with bonuses and raises based on job performance, will boost your employees’ morale, and push them to advance in your veterinary practice.
#3: Learn your team members’ workplace language of appreciation
Knowing how to communicate effectively with your team is essential and understanding their preferences for appreciation can substantially impact their happiness in their job. Workplace appreciation languages, which are similar to the five love languages, include:
- Words of affirmation — Praise your employee publicly or in private or spend time and effort handwriting an appreciation note.
- Quality time — Team-building activities, one-on-one lunches, or regular check-ins can make an employee feel valued.
- Acts of service — Veterinary practices are busy places and pitching in to help so an employee does not need to stay late will mean a lot.
- Tangible gifts — Special treats or personalized gifts that you purchase with the employee in mind can be a great morale booster.
- Physical touch — Although physical touch in the workplace is typically avoided, you can high-five an assistant who nailed that dehydrated kitten’s vein on the first try or offer a hug during highly emotional times.
#4: Use your team to their fullest potential
Your team has put a lot of time, effort, and money into their education and training—don’t let it go to waste. Allow your employees to fully use their skills. For example, let your technicians perform all the tasks they have learned, such as monitoring anesthesia, placing intravenous (IV) catheters, and performing a cystocentesis. This frees your veterinarians to speak with clients, write up medical records, and create treatment plans—and also boosts practice revenue. Additionally, encourage your team to take that next step in their education and career. A stagnant job with no room to grow will drag down morale but allowing your team to bloom will increase job satisfaction.
#5: Flesh out your benefits package
Find out which benefits are important to employees, and then offer them. Your benefits package should include the following standard features:
- Health and life insurance
- Pet health care coverage
- Paid leave
- Retirement savings
- CE opportunities
- Uniform allowances
- Licensing reimbursement
If your team favors a shorter work week with longer workdays, add this form of flexible scheduling to your list of benefits. Paid parental leave, daycare allowances, and the ability to pick kids up from school are also attractive employee benefits.
#6: Spring surprise rewards on your team
If you notice an employee mopping up a pee puddle that three other people ignored, give them a small gift card. Or, reward a team member who achieves a professional goal, such as positioning a dog correctly for their first set of OFA radiographs, with a unique prize. Small gifts, especially when thoughtful and unexpected, can significantly affect your team’s happiness. Stethoscope charms, bandage scissors, scrub caps, good quality pens, and other useful items can make up a grab bag of goodies for team members to choose from when you reward a special achievement.
#7: Challenge your team to a friendly competition
A friendly employee contest gives your team something to look forward to each day and can boost engagement and morale. Many people enjoy health-related challenges, which you can customize and include packed healthy lunches, or challenges to take the most steps during a shift. A great way to promote your services and products is a competition among employees. For example:
- Who can encourage the most pet owners to purchase a year’s worth of parasite prevention in a week, or a month?
- Who can schedule the most dental cleanings in a specific timeframe?
- Who can schedule the most wellness checks?
At your team meeting, give updates on your competition, and hand out small prizes.
#8: Upgrade your veterinary practice equipment
If your team is frustrated with your veterinary practice’s clunky radiography equipment from the Dark Ages, ditch the developing tank for a digital unit. Upgrading your practice’s equipment will be a huge morale booster. Who doesn’t love shiny new toys that greatly improve efficiency and make your job easier?
#9: Invest in your team’s wellness
Treating your employees like living, breathing people rather than robots can go a long way toward improving job satisfaction and morale. In the veterinary industry, focusing on mental health and wellness is critical for remaining in the field. Investing in your team’s wellness can help prevent burnout, compassion fatigue, and mental health problems. Promote team mental health awareness and wellness by:
- Checking in regularly through one-on-one meetings
- Providing a support network inside the practice
- Giving time off to seek professional help
- Planning activities outside the practice, to promote a healthy work-life balance
- Providing programs to encourage physical health
#10: Invest in intuitive software to take a load off your team’s shoulders
The veterinary software your team spends hours using every day significantly impacts their happiness and job satisfaction. If they’re constantly running into snags, or bogged down by outdated technology, they likely will be frustrated and irritated. With the advent of cloud-based technology, veterinary practice management software has made huge advances. An intuitive interface that is easy to grasp and use can make a world of difference in your team’s daily tasks. Plus, well-designed practice management software can greatly increase your team’s efficiency. Being able to leave work each day at the scheduled time also improves job satisfaction and morale.
At Shepherd Veterinary Software, we believe easy-to-use veterinary software can have an enormous impact on your team’s happiness. To see the difference integrated applications, intuitive medical records, and robust automation tools can make in your team’s efficiency and morale, schedule a demo.