Human Resources

The Positive Power of saying “Thank You” to your Veterinary Staff

If you’ve been frustrated trying to find qualified, suitable staff to fill open positions at your practice lately, you’re not alone.  It’s rapidly becoming more of a job-seeker’s market, with many more job openings than there are skilled, qualified applicants.   With this scarcity of qualified applicants in mind, employers are  increasingly looking for ways to engage and retain their existing staff.  Monetary incentive programs, work-life balance initiatives such as shortened work weeks and work-from-home arrangements, lavish continuing education allowances, and simple to complicated reward schemes involving points and prizes – these are all examples of the lengths employers are going to show their appreciation for staff.

Recent studies have shown that as many as 2 in 3 employees would be more likely to leave their current employment if they didn’t feel appreciated by their manager.

We all know that hiring and training a new employee is expensive, but there are other things to be concerned about as well when an employee quits. When current employees feel unappreciated, they are much less engaged and enthusiastic about  their work.  Engaged Employees have a positive impact on your bottom line – when you have happy employees, you have happy clients.  When you have happy clients, they want to keep spending their money with you.

Complicated and  expensive incentive and recognition programs aside, what if there was a simple, low-cost, effective way to let your staff know how much you appreciate them?  What if I told you that you could spend a few minutes honing a skill that I promise you already have in order to take advantage of this revolutionary recognition program?

No doubt, you’d say “Thank You.”

See how easy that was?

While staff do appreciate grand gestures such as raises, time off, and other rewards for their hard work, it’s often the day-to-day acknowledgement of the small things done right from management that can have the most impact on how they feel about their job and the company they work for.

While some naysayers might be thinking “Thank employees for doing their job? But that’s what they get paid for!  They should be thanking ME for their paycheck!” the unfortunate reality is that on a day-to-day level, employees more often receive feedback when they’ve done something wrong, rather than when they’re done something right.  Over the weeks and months, this constant stream of negativity can have a significant impact on employee morale and motivation.

While it’s obvious that a constant stream of simple “thank you” statements doled out as nonchalantly as if they were Hallowe’en candy may eventually cause employees to roll their eyes and tune you out, there is a simple two step way to make your Thank You more meaningful – by adding context.

Two Simple Steps to Thank You Success:

  • Be specific – what exactly are you thanking the employee for? “Thank you very much for talking to that client way past closing time to ensure they understood their invoice charges.”
  • What was the impact? – “You really went out of your way to uphold our high standards of customer service and I appreciate your efforts in making that client feel valuable.”

If you allow these two steps to guide how you frame your appreciation, you’ll be well prepared to recognize and acknowledge employee excellence on an ongoing basis  Staff will see  how their actions positively affect the company, and will be motivated to keep up their discretionary efforts.  Another nice by-product is that they start to say Thank You more often themselves – to you, to each other, to clients… appreciation is contagious.

While you, like some audiences I’ve presented this concept to, might dismiss this concept as silly or overly elementary, I leave you with this anecdote.  Recently I attended the funeral for a long-time family friend who died relatively young.  Jim was an executive at an association that serviced small business owners across Ontario, Canada.  One of his former colleagues spoke at the service, and noted that the thing they most remember about Jim and his management style was how Jim would sit down every Friday in his office, and hand write detailed thank you notes for selected staff members.  This former employee still had all the notes Jim had written to hear over the years, and noted that everyone who worked with Jim looked forward to Fridays for this reason.  Due to illness, Jim hadn’t worked with these people for close to 10 years.  But they still remembered Jim, and how those Friday thank you notes made them feel recognized and appreciated.

So, even if you’re still skeptical, I invite and challenge you to give this Enhanced Thank You program a try.  If you make it meaningful, it can have a huge impact on employee engagement and morale.  What do you have to lose?

One comment
  1. Great insight Katie. We as veterinary managers are often so busy putting out fires that we forget or miss the opportunity to let team members how important their contribution was that day and how much we appreciate it personally and the impact it has on business. Awareness and active leadership is key

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