The scientifically proven secret to creating a happy veterinary workplace

What would you do if we told you there is a scientifically proven approach to feeling happy at work? 

It’s called ‘Joy in Work’ framework and was designed to combat burnout in the healthcare sector. 

Centred around building rapport with colleagues, the approach has shown to have a significant impact on boosting morale at work, as well as improving engagement, performance, employee retention and patient satisfaction. 

Given that 49% of vets have left the profession due to chronic stress and that it’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, we thought it would be helpful to explore this framework in more detail…

Key takeaways from the ‘Joy at Work’ approach 

1.Get to know your colleagues 

The first half of the guidance focuses on how to conjure up joy through building relationships with those around you – and we don’t just mean having a bit of small talk here and there. According to the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI), who came up with the strategy, getting to know your colleagues and their values establishes a sense of confidence and safety in the workplace. It is also important to find out their pet peeves (pun not intended) to maintain harmony across the practice. Indeed, respecting each other’s needs can help create a happier environment where people can thrive, learn and grow. 

2. Create positive change 

The second step is addressing the issues flagged by colleagues in the first stage of the framework. 

IHI pinpointed the following factors as crucial to creating a happy veterinary workplace:

  • Physical & psychological safety 
  • Meaning & purpose
  • Choice and autonomy 
  • Recognition & rewards
  • Participative management 
  • Camaraderie & teamwork 
  • Daily improvement 
  • Wellness & resilience 
  • Real-time measurement 

The three most relevant to uplifting the team include: physical and psychological safety, meaning and purpose, and choice and autonomy – and this can all be made possible by supportive colleagues and a dedicated manager. 

Real-world feedback 

Mark Moreton, small animal GP vet and small animal veterinary director for CVS Group, said: “The more of these meetings you have in your practice, the more you’ll get out of them.

“The clinical teams feel that this work has been really worthwhile. They want to keep doing it, so they have a meeting once a week to talk about what problems annoy them and which ones they’re going to fix that week.

“A head RVN added: ‘This has given the team a sense of control and power; they are coming into work with a real sense of ownership’.

“Practice management told us this has been a real game changer, and feel like post-COVID, things for the team are starting to move in the right direction.”

Angela Rayner, RCVS Knowledge quality improvement advisor, shared her support for the approach: “The framework is energising – it’s about connecting with colleagues and solving problems, which together lead to happiness.”

Read the full “Joy at Work’ guidance here to find out more about how to implement the approach at your practice. 

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