2 ways to boost team member health


Helping staff members stay healthy benefits your practice

I rarely attend practice management sessions at veterinary conferences. It's just more fun to go to cardiology, oncology, soft tissue surgery and internal medicine lectures and wet labs. But recently I listened to a management presenter at a veterinary meeting. I couldn't believe my ears when he said, "You (staff) are not at the clinic to have fun. You are there to work."

Thinking I misheard, I took aside some of the folks also attending the meeting and asked, "Did he really say that you shouldn't have fun at work?"

They said yes.

Now, I would have left veterinary medicine decades ago if it wasn't fun. My view is, if you can't have fun at work, where can you have fun? Enjoying your time with clients and staff members makes me happy, and I can do an excellent job only if I'm happy. (Good or okay job, maybe.)

I think this extends to the staff, as well. Only happy employees are fully vested in their work and provide excellent client service. A happy staff works as a team to provide the best healthcare possible for patients. And keeping employees happy goes a long way to keeping them on staff.

So with the undulations of the economy having created uncertainty and unease among employees, you may find yourself asking, "What can I do to keep staff happy and morale high?"

The first step is simple: Ask them what they're concerned about. The second step: Take action to address their concerns.

If your staff is anything like mine, their top concern will be job security. (You should address this concern in whatever way is appropriate for your practice.) Also very high on their list will be concerns about healthcare costs and staying healthy. So what can we do to tackle those issues?

Health fund

A health fund helps employees pay for medical insurance copays. Here's how it works. The practice sets aside $1,000 for this fund. After staff members go to the emergency room, the dentist or the doctor, they bring the receipt for the copay in and the clinic reimburses them. It's that simple. My staff loves it.

We set up a quarterly budget, and it's first-come, first-serve. So far the budget has not been exceeded either annually or quarterly.

Gym membership

A gym membership may seem a little over the top, but it works. We started with a subsidy toward a health club. We chose a full-service club with a pool, a daycare facility, an indoor track and all sorts of classes and equipment. More than half of the staff signed up. They also added family, guests and friends.

To my surprise, staff members' morale improved after they joined the club. The comments have been very positive: "The best thing you've ever done," "I feel better," "In-house friendships have blossomed" and "Families are closer at home."

Final thought

These relatively small budget items have contributed greatly toward my employees' health and well-being. They care about themselves more and tend to the clients and patients with greater passion and vigor.

The driver behind practice excellence is you. An employer who considers the personal issues of the staff is going to have an edge when it comes to building the happy team necessary to provide excellent client and patient services.

Dr. Riegger, dipl. ABVP, is chief medical officer at Northwest Animal Clinic Hospital and Specialty Practice in Albuquerque, N.M. Contact him by telephone or fax (505) 898-0407, Riegger@aol.com, or northwestanimalclinic.com. Find him on AVMA's NOAH as the practice management moderator. Order his books Management for Results and More Management for Results by calling (505) 898-1491.

Related Videos
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
Maxim / stock.adobe.com
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
dvm360 Live! with Dr. Adam Christman
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.