SPVS Wellbeing Awards Winners 2016
While publicity about increased stress and mental health issues in veterinary practice is important, it could be creating too gloomy a picture. There are many practices where teams are happy and fulfilled and it is important that their stories are also shared to give a true representation.
That was the message from SPVS Senior Vice-President, Nick Stuart, when he announced the winners of the inaugural SPVS Wellbeing Awards run in partnership with RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI).
He said: ‘We were so impressed with all the entries, not just our three winners. Initiatives, such as a hamper for ‘the loveliest person of the month’, a day off for people on their birthday, and in house training on mental health and wellbeing help define the culture of a practice.’
There were three categories in the awards determined by the number of full time equivalent staff. The Judges were asked to score practices for internal communication, opportunities for training and development, team building and networking and initiatives to reduce stress and promote wellbeing and resilience.
Large category (51 or more staff) – White Cross Vets
White Cross vets employ 175 people across 16 sites. Their Managing Director, Tim Harrison, said: ‘It’s not just about how bosses should behave morally, it makes pure business sense in a people-led profession where there is a shortage of vets and nurses. If you look after your team you will reduce turnover and that’s good for morale, good for your clients and ultimately, good for your profitability.’ White Cross vets are the only practice in the country to achieve 3 stars in the list of the Sunday Times ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’. Mr Harrison admits that several of their initiatives came from trawling through the Sunday Times supplement to see what other small businesses were doing for their staff. ‘The idea of a day off on your birthday and a birthday cake came from Timpsons, the shoe repair and key cutting chain’ he admits. ‘Initiatives like that cost very little but can mean a lot to your team’
Medium category (16- 50 employees) – Valley Vets in Cardiff.
Their Practice Manager, Nichi Tanner said that attending a MMI roadshow in Cardiff had inspired them to organise in house training from an award winning Mental Health First Aid trainer which received excellent feedback from their team. Their extensive year round calendar of team social events also appealed to the judges. Nichi explained: ‘The team love the fact that the “bosses” personally prepare huge feasts of food and drink for them and their partners at the summer BBQ. Our Directors believe that as well as funding events, the hard work of shopping, preparing, cooking, hosting and washing up makes their thank you that little bit more special’
Small category – 387 Veterinary Centre in Walsall, North Birmingham.
Owner and vet, Hamish Duncan and his wife and practice manager, Rachel, believe that good communication and mutual appreciation is key to wellbeing. Rachel gave an example: ‘We introduced a ‘Gratitude Board’ to encourage team members to appreciate each other more, and for vets and nurses to share positive feedback from clients. It has had quite an impact and I hear people saying thank you to each other around the practice much more now’
Judge Lizzie Lockett, Director of MMI said that the panel was hugely impressed with the range and imagination across all the entries, not only the winners. She said: UK vet practices are showing real leadership when it comes to talking the wellbeing of their teams seriously. The work we are doing here to address mental health issues is being held up as a template by veterinary professions in other countries, and also by those in other professions. And the hard work that’s being put in on the ground by practices such as our award winners is what makes a real difference.’
Details of the 2017 Awards will be posted here in April. If you would like us to email you to let you know when we are accepting entries, please enter your details below: