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Good Veterinary Workplaces Blog - Reward and Recognition

The third session in our Good Workplace series, in partnership with BVA, focused on Reward and Recognition. Here are our top 7 takeaways from our online discussion that you can watch back here with James Russell and Carolyne Crowe

“Thank you very much, very good areas of discussion and things to take back to practice 😊"

Feeling valued at work

1. When you say thank you to a team member, do you link it to why?

A thank you on its own doesn’t give the receiver any proof of to the way they helped or the impact they had. We are all time poor but adding a sentence after your thank you detailing why you value what they have done will only take you minutes. These are minutes we can all afford to gift.

  • Thank for doing X, it allowed me to do
  • Thanks for that, I now feel
  • Thank for your help, this meant that we could Y

When we take time to do this, it allows us to focus on positive behaviours within our teams rather than just the outcomes. Why is this important? People can reach desired outcomes yet they may not achieve them with the best behaviours! 

Plus, for every constructive criticism to be appropriately received, it takes five thank yous or compliments to be given too.

Food for thought

Why not check out how our allies in healthcare use The Learn From Excellence platform to acknowledge and thank team members.

2. Do you understand who the individuals are in your team? 

When it comes to recognising your team members everyone will appreciate a personalised response. 

“Asking team members, what is important to you in your role or career? I've found that the most useful guide to shape conversations or rewards”

Here are some of the things you appreciate:

  • I like to be personally recognised
  • a quiet word one-on-one and/or private letter/note specifying what I did well or the outcome it led to
  • Number one is face to face thanks - not an email, not a 'gift', not cake for all, not a message board!
  • I value recognition of my knowledge and being asked to mentor or explain things
  • End of day thanks for everyone, recognising accomplishments
  • We have a ‘good moves’ board for recognising achievements/compliments from clients etc.

Have a think about the following:

  • Do you know which of your team prefer public or private praise? 
  • Have you behaviourally profiled your teams to find out what is important to them and help you discern what makes them feel more valued? 
  • Do you know what three values are most important to each member of the team? If not, ask them and see how these can be fostered in their roles and recognised too. 
  • Who has told their teams how they like to be recognised/thanks? 

These questions can be used to aid purposeful and honest conversations that help team members feel heard.

Food for thought

How about investing in DISC behavioural profiling for the team. This is a great tool to facilitate a conversation about recognition and team values. Keep the conversations and momentum alive by using it when every new team member joins you too. 

“Thank you, this year has had a big negative impact on morale, and I keep thanking staff, now I will tell them why I am grateful to them!”

How positive workplace culture aids fulfilment

Research in almost all professional sectors including veterinary shows that purpose, autonomy, and mastery are key to harness in every team member to help create the cornerstones of good workplace culture.

So, with this in mind do you know the answers to the following questions? If not, perhaps try them on for fit!

3. What is your purpose day-to-day at work?

Ask your team what they think theirs and your purpose is and check they align. 

We assume and presume too often, and this allows us to focus on our roles and recognise each other for jobs well done.

4. What degree of autonomy do you have in your purpose? 

We all like to be able to make decisions and act on them using our skills, mastery and control. Start to highlight where you have it in your role and where perhaps it could be improved. Do you need to work in mastery anywhere to achieve it? Do you need to have a conversation with your team or manager?

5. Do all your team members take responsibility for reward and recognition? 

Ask each of your team members what they think you bring to the team, you may be surprised just how valued you are, and this helps to highlight the behaviours that bring about this value too. 

It is all our responsibility to foster reward and recognition and should not just fall at the managers feet. 

Food for thought 

Check out this article – Research: A little recognition can provide a big morale boost

Transparent and fair pay

6. What does fair pay mean to you?

This is a tricky question and is a relative rather than absolute number. 

“We are all reasonably remunerated compared to most of society. So, for me fair pay feels like I am being rewarded and being paid well enough for my job, so it ceases to be the thing I think about all the time.” James Russell, BVA President 

What you said:

  • Transparency of team pay grades and in line with other team members who are doing the same job.
  • Recognising the job you do rather than just the title.
  • Pay linked to a clear skill-based structure.
  • Pay rises, especially if they keep up with inflation, and recognise additional tasks and responsibilities taken on since last review. Not having to move jobs to get a pay rise.
  • Not a rigid one fifth of turnover. Turnover is a team-based effort, and it should be more about your overall value to the practice & team. We don't work in vacuums. And as you get more experienced you spend time mentoring, teaching and management responsibilities that don't add to turnover but are essential to the business.
  • I think how you contribute to the development of other members of the team is important.
  • As a specialist who spent a fair few years on a rather paltry pay as an intern and resident, I appreciate that investment in training is reflected in my salary.

If it doesn’t feel fair, then have a chat with your HR teams. Do you know the benchmarks for your role? The SPVS Salary Survey can be a great place to start and over on VSGD Careers all salary brackets are required as standard in all adverts as well as the essential and desired competencies and person specifications for the roles. 

We also know that bias is alive in the gender pay gap (see the BVA report here) so the more transparent our pay is, the better, otherwise it creates a smoke and mirrors effect, with more money going to the ones who negotiate best. 

Food for thought

Fear not, if you want to brush up on these skills check out the useful Negotiation scares the hell out of me Career 101 session by VetYou and guests. 

“Valuing clinical and non-clinical skills, but how do you quantify these as a manager when you will have unconscious bias and possibly fail to see the value that some members bring to the team?” 

Benefits packages

Cash is just one currency when it comes to the benefits at work. The trick is to be able to build packages that support employees through different life stages. 

7. Does your benefits package allow you to have some control over what it features? 

There are many things that can feature in a benefits package. Here are just a few of the things that you appreciate:

  • Sabbaticals and unpaid leave
  • Time off in Lieu (TOIL)
  • Kit 
  • CPD
  • Health care
  • Income protection 
  • Subscriptions such as the BV
  • Cover such as VDS Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance

We all want to go to work and feel valued. It’s easy to get hung up on pay as it’s a tangible measure, but other elements are important too.

Let us know what else you would add and we can turn this into a top 10 things to consider with Reward and Recognition!

You can watch back all of our Good Veterinary Workplace webinars here.

About VDS Training
VDS Training are passionate about developing all members of the veterinary team, to help you overcome the personal and professional challenges you face on a daily basis, and to build practical skills and techniques to make a real difference to you and your life.