Ask Emily: How can I help my team feel appreciated during the pandemic?

FirstlineFirstline May/June 2020
Volume 16
Issue 3

Here are 10 ways to show your veterinary team how grateful you are for their hard work and dedication during the COVID-19 crisis.

dog and party

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Editor's Note: and Firstline magazine asked practice manager Emily Shiver to answer your questions about life in practice for managers, technicians, assistants, client service representatives and more. Got a question for Emily? Email us at

Veterinary teams are all feeling stress, anxiety and uncertainty on a daily basis. You have likely changed your entire work flow, including your team’s schedules. We are all feeling exhausted, scared and skeptical about the future. Here are 10 things you can do to help your team feel appreciated during these tumultuous times:

  1. Try playing curbside bingo. You may have seen this game circulating through social media. Download or create curbside bingo cards for your practice team, and offer prizes to the winners.
  2. Provide breakfast, lunch or yummy treats for the team. Local restaurants and bakeries will surely appreciate the orders!
  3. Have meetings at the beginning and end of each shift, and always ask for feedback. Your team has great ideas—use them!
  4. Schedule meditation or yoga sessions. I bet some of you let out a chuckle just now, but I do this with my team and it is palpable when we don’t have our meditation session at lunch time to help us mentally prepare for the afternoon.
  5. Set revenue goals and offer cash or gift card bonuses when those goals are reached.
  6. Organize an ongoing potluck. Working seven days on and seven days off, our team has been pairing up and cooking lunch and dessert for one another. This has eliminated the stress for team members around having to bring or pick up their own lunch every day.
  7. Write thank-you notes and place them around the practice for a nice surprise.
  8. After a long day, don’t forget to tell your team “thank you”—use communication platforms like Slack.
  9. Give the gift of time. On the other side of this pandemic, award those who weathered the storm with an additional PTO day to use at their leisure.
  10. Plan an “after-party” once all of this is over.

The sky is the limit when it comes to showing appreciation to your team, whose lives have literally been turned upside down over the past several weeks. Don’t forget to utilize your drug representatives to help you with some of these ideas, as many of them would be more than happy to send your team lunch or help you organize a prize for the bingo winner. Take care of your team, and they will take care of you!

Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, is practice manager at Cleveland Heights Animal Hospital in Lakeland, Florida.

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