The holiday season is an especially busy time for veterinary practices, and feeling festive when you’re hustling to care for yet another pet suffering from pancreatitis or a foreign body ingestion can be difficult. But, overlooking or ignoring the holiday season would be missing out on an excellent opportunity to boost team morale and set a positive tone for the new year.
Here are five practical ways to squeeze in some holiday cheer before the next ornament-eating dog arrives.
#1: Vet med, but make it festive
Simple decorations can transform your practice into a seasonal winter wonderland that will lift your hard-working team’s spirits. If a full-sized tree in the lobby is not practical or is too attractive to loitering male dogs, consider accent decorations that make big statements, such as:
- Twinkle lights — Clear, sparkling lights in foyers and long hallways create a sense of warmth and magic that appeals to all ages but maintains a polished and professional look.
- Artificial pine boughs — Simple greenery on exam room doors or countertops lends a festive feel.
- Snowflake-themed pieces — Choosing a neutral winter theme for holiday celebrations can show respect for individual beliefs. If your practice is located in a temperate climate, a few battery-operated candles or decorative ribbons can produce a similar effect.
#2: Ho-ho-host a holiday open house for charity
A holiday open house event can be a fun, relatively simple way to say thank you to current clients and may even attract new business. Entertain attendees with low-key hors d’oeuvres or snacks, small-group VIP practice tours, and an informal auction with various veterinary services as the prizes—with proceeds and donations benefiting a local charity.
#3: Holiday games and challenges
If gathering everyone together for one big event is impractical, spread cheer throughout the season with a group activity that your team can complete at their own pace. Activities could include:
- Scavenger hunts — Email or post a new clue each day that leads your team to a small prize or a puzzle piece that, when assembled, acts as a clue for the final reward.
- Themed challenges — Inspire healthy competition with themed holiday challenges or skills-based contests. Team members can track their achievements with a bingo card or checklist. The winner is the first team member who achieves a set number of challenges or tasks. All finishers should receive a participation prize.
#4: Party, party: Block out time to spend together as a team
Can you really get through December without a classic holiday office party? While closing for a few hours to take the team out for a holiday lunch or a festive dinner may cause a weekly revenue dip, you should consider this an investment in your staff. Holiday parties can cap off your practice year by celebrating your employees and honoring their dedication and effort over the past 12 months. Parties not only give team members a rejuvenating pause in their daily routine, but also a chance to bond and enjoy each other’s company over a meal or a game, rather than a sick or needy pet.
The best holiday parties are a mix of planned team-building activities and unscheduled downtime, so be sure to include some of each. Some easy but undeniably successful party games include:
- “White Elephant” gift exchange — Keep it silly with gag gifts or get practical with everyday items.
- Veterinary-themed card games — Check out Vets Against Insanity and What’s on My Scrubs.
- Never have I ever, veterinary edition — Make this truth-telling game workplace-appropriate with non-alcoholic beverages or funny consequences for those who have actually acted.
- Piñatas — Nothing levels the playing field like blindfolding each veterinary professional and spinning them in circles. Watch each team member’s inner child emerge during this fun, stress-relieving game. We recommend that you have a few piñatas on hand if it’s been a particularly challenging year!
#5: Holiday wishes: Fill your team’s stockings with gifts that give joy
Gift-giving doesn’t have to be extravagant to be appreciated. In fact, small, carefully considered items more often leave a lasting impact. Consider practical gifts that could enhance your team’s work life and help them experience greater joy in their specific role. Ideas include:
- Gift certificates for new shoes or scrubs
- Personalized drink cups
- Bandage scissors
- Utility belts
- Veterinary-themed stickers
- Personalized jackets
- Monetary bonuses
If you’re feeling extra cheerful, consider a large clinic gift that will benefit everyone and can be shared by the entire team. Our favorites include:
- Break room appliances
- Ergonomic office chairs
- Foam balance pads to protect your team’s knees when assisting patients on the floor
- Updated equipment
- Technology upgrades (e.g., Shepherd Veterinary Software)
Amid the holiday season’s hustle and bustle—and stress—taking time out to spread cheer and celebrate your hardworking team can lift spirits, enhance practice culture, and set a positive tone for the New Year.
If your practice’s New Year’s resolutions include increasing efficiency, streamlining workflows, and finding a better work-life balance for yourself and your team, contact the Shepherd team to schedule a demo.