Kudos That Count

April 2024 |

Show true appreciation to your employees.

Every practice needs a work culture that will keep employees from looking for a new job.

We asked veterinary business experts for ways to show meaningful appreciation to the people at the heart of every independent veterinarian’s success:

Give authentic thank-yous. “Go ahead and tell them, ‘Without you, this practice would be worse,’” suggests Eric Garcia, IT expert and owner of Simply Done Tech Solutions. And he stresses the importance of going beyond just buying lunch. “It’s not about pizza,” he says. “Pizza can be like adding a Band-Aid to a massive dumpster fire.” Instead, he suggests, cultivate the art of true appreciation. And that means giving authentic thank-yous. An authentic and meaningful thank-you, he says, must include three elements:

  • Say what you’re thanking the person for.
  • Say what the person’s action meant to you.
  • Acknowledge the cost to the person.

Find internal motivators. Try to find what truly motivates your employees and then let them do it, says Wendy Hauser, DVM, and founder of Peak Veterinary Consulting. For example, Hauser realized in her practice that one employee loved creating policies, procedures and consistency in the hospital, so Hauser carved out half a day every week to let her do that. “She was so happy that her skills and interests in that area were being acknowledged and recognized,” says Hauser. “Too often, we don’t allow people the latitude to aim their activities toward what actually would motivate them.”

Organize special perks. Peter Weinstein, DVM, president of Simple Solutions for Vets, hired a masseuse to provide weekly massages at his practice every Friday. “Staff went first and doctors last,” Weinstein adds. He also rewarded an exceptional February dental month, when dentals soared to 120 instead of the usual 40, by taking his employees and their families (about 60 people) to Sea World in San Diego. “We wanted to return to them an investment in their time and effort and give them a thank-you that they would always remember,” he says.

Give the power to give. Mary Gardner, DVM, and co-founder of Lap of Love, which specializes in geriatric pets and end-of-life care, allows all her employees to give out one free euthanasia per month. “It’s their charity appointment,” she says. “So if they have a client or pet that they feel a special connection with, they can give that gift. They love having that ability.” Besides that, she has every new employee fill out a “soul card” with questions such as “What are your hobbies?” This allows her to give personal and meaningful gifts when an occasion arises, such as when an employee who she knows is an avid knitter is about to have surgery.

Find your own opportunities to forge bonds of loyalty and warmth with your employees, strengthening your team and creating a positive work culture that will reduce turnover.