Creating, maintaining, and enhancing a positive and enriching workplace environment can feel like a full-time job. And sometimes it’s nearly impossible to know if you are making progress. Review this checklist to find out how you are doing – and target areas that can lead to improvement. Or maybe you’ve nailed it and you just need to slip your results under the practice owner’s door and claim victory?
  • Shared Vision – Does your team have a common vision of the practice, the big picture? Mission statements and identifying values makes it easier for your team to see how you align with their values and, together, find common ground. Okay, so you have a mission statement. Can your team tell you what it says? Here’s an option for improvement – as a team, go through an exercise to review your mission statement and identify what you do each day to live that mission. Then see how these tasks are integrated into the culture of your business.

  • “Being real” needs to be the theme for every day. No playing favorites and no gossip as a contact sport. Provide feedback to the team when they do a good job, not just when it’s less than excellent.

  • Respect – Team members should be treated politely and constructively while showing appreciation for their contribution to the practice.

  • Competitive wages and benefits – In today’s labor market, retention of team members is crucial. Shop employee benefits yearly to make sure they are in alignment with the job the team is doing. Outline total compensation statements and review them annually with team members on an individual basis. This process assures that all forms of payment are considered by the employee and employer.

  • Achievable goals – It’s demotivating to select targets which have very little chance for completion. It’s better to take many small steps, than to step off a cliff and see if you’ll bounce at the bottom. Reviewing goals as a team and setting milestones to chart progress keeps excellent communication in place.

  • No micromanaging – If the boss is going to direct each small step that an employee makes to get a task done, it will take much longer. We need to set up the outcomes correctly and we need to believe in our team. There can also be a loss of trust when employees are micromanaged – it communicates a lack of belief that they can do the job well without someone always there checking up on her/him. If you don’t believe they can do it, then it makes no sense to give them the project.

  • It’s supposed to be fun, too! – Maybe it’s a surprise breakfast cooked by the owners in the morning. Starting meetings off with positive and funny things that have transpired. Find that middle ground where the team knows that sometimes it’s okay to laugh and to share that laughter. Have you ever had an ugly shoe day, a surprise scavenger hunt for cupcakes or made a video with the team talking about great things that happen at the practice?

  • No bullies allowed – Protect your team. If someone is aggressive, retaliatory, vindictive, consistently adverse, or repeatedly engages in drama, you need to put a stop to it. Your team needs to know that it won’t be tolerated and that their workplace is protected.

  • Roll with it – Flexibility requires management to understand that without balance between home and work, both areas will suffer, and no amount of free lunches or overtime pay is going to matter. Nor will it produce the right results. Many veterinary employees indicate that this can often be the deal-breaker. One team member mentioned during her exit interview at the hospital where she had worked for eight years that she had never been late, had stayed late on many occasions and had regularly assisted with onboarding new employees. Then, when her father had a heart attack and she wanted to leave early on one day and take Saturday off, the practice manager denied the request because no one was available to fill the shift. The employee quit. Employees need to know that if they have an issue that can’t wait, the practice will be an asset to help them figure out the work part.

  • Regular feedback – One on one meetings with a manager help employees stay connected, see that their voice is heard, and most importantly, aligns them to move in the same direction together. More frequent meetings take away much of the apprehension that team members can feel on the weight of feedback. Once you demonstrate that it’s an open discussion to improve work-life and practice environment, there’s more room for the positive.

So, how did you do? Do you have a few points to work on? You are not alone; the journey to an enriching environment takes time, patience, and a good sense of humor. If you weren’t able to check one of the boxes, you know where to start. Congratulations if that was a reinforcement of what you are already doing!


Sheila Grosdidier, SCP
Connect on LinkedIn