An employee break room serves multiple functions and eliminates staff-training headaches.
The employees at your practice work hard every day. They need a spot where they can sit back, pop open a cold soda, and relax for a minute—away from the demands of cranky clients and cantankerous cats. And wouldn't it be handy if that quiet spot doubled as a central meeting area where you could hold CE sessions and team meetings?
While there are no regulatory guidelines or laws that require veterinary practices to have a break room, there are some practical reasons for including such a space. Think beyond a cramped kitchenette with a table and chairs.
In today's workplace it's necessary to maximize every inch of space, so the traditional break room has morphed into a multipurpose area. Here are some of the reasons to offer a multipurpose room if you don't—and if you do, here's how to put it to good use.
Staff meetings and training sessions will go off without a hitch if they take place in a controlled environment. Team members learn better if they're not surrounded by the clutter and distractions of the treatment area, office, or reception area. In a pinch those locations can work, but meetings in those spaces interrupt the practice's workflow, not to mention the time it takes to convert the room from one use to another and back again. Plus, an ideal space will accommodate multimedia presentations during training.
If your practice has only a handful of team members, you may think you don't need a dedicated multipurpose area. Think again. Most practices grow faster than anticipated, and even small hospitals need the benefits of a staff room.
Ask anyone who's built a veterinary practice what they would do differently if they could, and chances are that if they didn't include a break room, that's on their short list of do-overs. When there's a lack of space for one function, other areas of the practice feel the squeeze.
For example, around the holidays your practice is probably inundated with goodies and treats from clients. You no doubt appreciate the gestures, but if your practice doesn't have a staff room, the gifts wind up cluttering up the lab, treatment room countertop, or the office desk—making it difficult to practice medicine. Additionally, it's not a good idea to keep food and treats in the medical areas—which brings us to the next point.
Businesses aren't legally required to allow employees to consume food or beverages in the workplace, but it's a necessity in most veterinary practices. Your employees spend their days in close proximity to a multitude of chemicals and drugs. They're also exposed to patient pathogens. This creates a real threat of illness or injury to your team if safeguards aren't in place.
Chemicals and pathogens enter the body via the hand-to-mouth route. Even storing the coffee pot on the lab counter or washing dishes in the treatment area sink can cause health problems. Those actions are also violations of OSHA regulations and local health department rules for sanitation. Make sure your employees can prepare their meals and snacks safely and enjoy them without the threat of contamination. Your employees work hard after all, don't they deserve a place to call their own?
Phil Seibert, CVT, is an author, speaker, and consultant with SafetyVet in Calhoun, Tenn. Send questions or comments to email@example.com