Workplace Culture at Tender Care Veterinary Center
What A Healthy Workplace Culture Means to Tender Care Veterinary Center:
Like many small businesses, our practice owners strive to create a happy, family-like atmosphere for their employees. However, where Tender Care surpasses other clinics is that our workplace isn’t content with the status quo. We always search for ways to improve in education, coworker relations, and staff support to ensure every member of our team is given ample opportunity to thrive in a categorically difficult work environment.
Our culture fosters a love of learning which empowers our employees to improve themselves and the scope of their practice, resulting in an innovative and safer environment all-around. There is daily conversation between DVMs and CVTs about what they have learned in the realms of behavior, pain management, and implementing a fear-free environment for patients. Less experienced staff members feel secure discussing their shortcomings with their mentors and preparing themselves to do better the next time. Likewise, more seasoned employees are eager to hear what the others have recently learned in school, and research it further to ensure our clinic is always practicing the best medicine we can offer. This mutual love of education and a safe learning environment creates a cohesive unit that strengthens our bonds with coworkers as we strive to provide our patients with exceptional care.
Similarly, because our staff members are used to sharing our vulnerabilities with each other, coworkers are also more in tune with each others’ mental and emotional states than in work cultures that reward simply putting your head down and getting the work done. The veterinary field is notoriously difficult and emotionally demanding. Our team members are sensitive to identifying when someone needs to take a step back, and are quick to fill in the gaps to support the workload of a teammate who needs a break. It is not uncommon to find CVTs filling in at the front desk while a receptionist composes herself after handling a berating client, or see a receptionist helping to mop up the aftermath of an emergent situation that the support staff needs to decompress from. This load sharing helps mitigate the compassion fatigue that ravages our profession by allowing teammates to give and take as they are personally able, rather than an overly strict adherence to their job description. The presence of shift leads being the first line of management also helps support staff to feel supported themselves, as their direct supervisors are “in the trenches” alongside them.
As a whole, management of TCVC makes every effort to connect with staff members and foster a supportive work environment. Regularly scheduled parties and off-site team building events provide stress-free opportunities for employees to relax with their colleagues. Our recent upgrade to our break room with the addition of a staff lounge exemplifies our goal of alleviating stress in our employees so they may flourish – personally and professionally. Tender Care management strives to strengthen the whole by ensuring each individual is well-supported. This clinic is truly an environment where veterinary staff can flourish.
Written by: Hannah Stockdale, CVT (Employee of 3.5 years)
Tender Care Veterinary Center Implementations to Improve Workplace Culture:
Tender Care Veterinary Center is a veteran owned business. This helps to improve the culture of the hospital because many of our employees are current military spouses or veterans themselves. Ownership and management understand the demands that a career in the military can place on our employees and the unique stressors that our employees may face as a result. The management team works with all employees to create schedules that accommodate drill assignments, TDYs, and family absences.
Addition to the clinic’s workspace decreased employee stress by improving efficiency and accommodating for the rapid growth of the hospital. The expansion of the hospital also includes a 915 square foot multi-purpose space. This space allows Tender Care Veterinary Center to hold team meetings and events in a more comfortable environment. This space has also allowed Tender Care Veterinary Center to plan and host community events including the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours and a continuing education course on DEA compliance for veterinarians in the surrounding community.
New Employee Lounge
To better serve the growing veterinary support team, the break room was expanded to allow more kitchen appliances, counter space, and seating. Management also took consideration for employee’s emotional well-being by providing a more playful atmosphere (with jukebox and video game table) and a secluded bedroom so overnight technicians might find rest.
When a dedicated CVT, Cathy Dilda, expressed interest in pursuing further specialization and credentials in patient rehabilitation, upper management funded her rehabilitation courses needed to achieve her goals and allocated valuable real estate within the building’s planned expansion to create a facility for this new venture. This arrangement spoke volumes to staff members about management’s desire to help them achieve their personal professional goals.
Improved Enforcement of Break Times
With improved efficiency to the workday and comfortable resting areas, staff members have few excuses not to take their scheduled break times. The culture has seen a dramatic shift from technicians bragging about how well they can manage a 10-12 hour shift without a break to DVM/CVT/VA teams spending lunches together, allowing their personal relationships to develop outside of professional work.
Regularly Scheduled Meetings
Rather than wait for the team to experience problems which required an immediate group intervention, policy was changed almost two years ago to have predictable meetings scheduled for the same day each month so team members could plan accordingly in advance.
Regular Team-Building Events
Staff members have had much more opportunity to bond outside of work in the past year and a half since we expanded from the annual family Christmas party to also have off-site social events. With an assortment of activities ranging from bowling, laser tag, and go-karts to running 5Ks for charity, or even simply enjoying each others’ company over a meal together, these inclusive events allow for more bonding between teammates than could ever be fostered at work alone.
Employee Recognition Program
TCVC management enjoys giving credit where credit is due, often recognizing staff members for exceptional work in front of their peers at the monthly staff meetings. Since the implementation of financial bonuses for clients recognizing individual staff members in online reviews, support staff has broadened the focus of their service to ensure client satisfaction as well as quality medical care for their pets.
New Hire Training Protocol
The management team of Tender Care Veterinary Center recognizes that incomplete training of new employees has a detrimental effect on the hospital culture and can lead to a higher turnover rate with employees. To combat these negative effects, the management team created a staged training protocol for all new employees. The protocol allows new employees a formal introduction to the hospital departments and staff. This training protocol also allows new employees to gain an understanding of the demands of other departments and positions in the hospital. (Please see attached).
Hosting Intern and Extern Students
Tender Care Veterinary Center believes that the path to mastery of any position includes teaching others. Tender Care has continuously partnered with Pima Medical Institute and Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology to host veterinary assistant and veterinary technician students for the clinical portion of their education. Tender Care Veterinary Center also hosted our first Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Intern from Ross University in the fall of 2019. Tender Care has also partnered with Falcon High School to host high school students from the Agriculture and Veterinary Science Program for their clinical rotations. These educational partnerships help to improve the culture of Tender Care Veterinary Center by allowing our employees to solidify their own knowledge and share their experience with others. This gives them the opportunity to show pride in their profession and their personal abilities.
Team-Composed Mission Statement
In the summer of 2019, the entire team was asked to submit their input on what our cohesive mission statement should be. After compiling ideas, the team voted on what to have published as our personal mission statement. This allowed all support staff to feel like they have a meaningful voice in the hospital, and ensure our mission statement was something the entire staff truly aspired to. Listed below:
“The mission of Tender Care Veterinary Center is to provide the community with exceptional veterinary care that is provided with the highest integrity. We strive to educate our clients so they are empowered to take the best care of their pets for many years to come.”