7 morale boosters to pump up your practice - Firstline
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7 morale boosters to pump up your practice
These from-the-trenches tips are proven to lift veterinary team members' spirits. And they just might increase client satisfaction as well. After all, a happy staff equals a happy clinic.

FIRSTLINE

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1. Celebrate your superstars

 For the past two years, there’s been a freeze on all pay raises at our practice. That’s why our boss shows his appreciation for our hard work with this morale booster: At each staff meeting, he recognizes an employee who has gone above and beyond in the last month. That person earns a check for $25 and gets his or her name on the employee-of-the-month board.

—Robin Pack, practice manager
All Care Animal Hospital
Minneola, Fla.

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2. Party time: Tout technicians and team members

At Inver Grove Heights Animal Hospital in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., team members get credit for their hard work all the time—but they ramp it up one week a year. "We celebrate 'Staff Appreciation Week,'" says practice manager Liane Laughlin, CVT. "It's quite an event, and the staff really looks forward to it."

And why wouldn't they? The event is a regular party at the practice. Here are a few of last year's perks:

  • Half-hour professional massages
  • Free movie tickets
  • A breakfast bar with fresh omelets
  • A caramel apple bar with melted caramel, nuts, cereals, and candies
  • A happy hour after work
  • Catered lunches
  • A $50 credit to use for pet care

Laughlin used her talents as an artist to teach painting classes in the evenings. And associate doctors at the practice get in on the fun, too. In past years, they've created ice cream sundae bars—complete with numerous flavors of ice cream and toppings—and ordered customized coffee mugs for each team member.

Finally, make technicians—and team members—wildly popular among clients through a "meet the team" bulletin board.

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3. Spice up staff meetings

I try to make our monthly staff meeting not only informative, but interesting and fun at the same time. One time I had a dog breed quiz and pitted the veterinarians against the technicians to see who could guess more correct answers. I then gave a brief synopsis of problems and diseases associated with those breeds.

Another time, to make our team aware of how much it costs to run a veterinary clinic, I gave them a blank sheet with expense categories such as utilities, supplies, and taxes. I asked them to write down what they thought the average monthly costs were for each category. They were astounded at the true figures, and it made them more aware of how important it is to promote our high standards of care.

Next month, we're having the fire department start a demo fire in our parking lot to show everyone how to use a fire extinguisher. As a result of these activities, our team members are beginning to look forward to monthly staff meetings instead of dreading them.

—Jodi Janski, office manager
Armstrong Veterinary Service
Star Prairie, Wis.

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4. Trade ideas for cash at your clinic

In this down economy, we're always trying to find ways to save money for our clinic. We decorated a box, and asked employees to fill it with their suggestions or tips on how the clinic can save money. The doctor draws an idea once a month, and if he likes the idea, he will use it and reward the employee with a cash bonus. This seems to keep the morale up in these hard times, and everyone loves to think up ways to save.

—Robin Pack, practice manager
All Care Animal Hospital
Minneola, Fla.

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5. Team members’ night out

At Portland Veterinary Specialists in Portland, Maine, money not accounted for in regular revenue and expenses—such as refunds, rebates, and incentives for participating in surveys and pilot studies—goes in the “found money” fund. And that money supports fun events as a reward to the practice’s hard-working team members.

Practice manager Kristine Suszczynski supplements the fund with an allotment of practice earnings and takes her team out on the town for dinners, movies, musicals, bowling, and more. “I always ask the staff members what they would like to do,” Suszczynski says. “They get very excited about their choices.” Team members say the outings are a great way to get to know other employees and make going back to work more fun.

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6. Soda for a smile: A game for impressing clients

Every veterinary clinic has a "Mrs. Madeline Madasheck"—the surly client who’s reduced more than one employee to tears. It seems like no matter what you do, she'll leave everyone upset by the end of each visit.

The next time you see this client's name on the appointment schedule, make a friendly wager with a co-worker. If one of you can make that client simply smile, the other pays for a soda or lunch at a nearby restaurant the next day. You'll find that a compliment on a piece of jewelry or clothing—or better yet, on their pet—are all simple ways to coax a smile out of even the crankiest clients. You may also find that it makes you feel good, and you'll help build or perhaps repair relations with that client.

There may not be a way to please every client every time, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. At the very least, you'll get a free soda every now and then.

—Susan Logan, CVT
Mesa, Ariz.

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7. Team contest: Stick it to low morale

Looking for a way to reward teamwork and excellent performance? Hold a sticker contest like Robin Pack, practice manager at All Care Animal Hospital in Minneola, Fla. Each month, Pack gives employees their own sticker sheet and buys motivational or seasonal decals. "Whenever an employee goes out of his or her way and helps another employee or does extra tasks that need to be done without being told, he or she earns a sticker," Pack says. "At the end of the month, the employee with the most stickers wins a gift card to a local eatery. The gift card is always different and comes with a theme. For example, if the card is to Starbucks, then I get a mug to go with it. The employees love this contest, and I find they work happier and harder because of it."

 

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Source: FIRSTLINE,
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