Lifting staff morale this Christmas

Many Veterinary Practices find that business picks up over winter, with customers wanting to make sure their pets are happy and healthy in time for the festive period. Of course, this means that your staff need to be happy and healthy, too, so that they can meet demand to the absolute best of their ability. So, how can you boost staff morale at this time of year and ensure they’re as focused on their work as they are their Christmas plans?

You might be relieved to learn that throwing money at them isn’t necessarily the answer. Although financial incentives certainly have their uses, there are many other ways to put a smile on their faces, which come at little to no cost.

According to new research from Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, a surprising 43% of employees felt that ‘free’ and ‘negligible’ Christmas perks were more important than standard bonuses. What’s more, some 84% stated that even a non-monetary Christmas perk would motivate them to work harder and make them feel recognised for their efforts. The same number also said it would make them more likely to stay in their current role – so it can help with staff retention in the New Year, too.

As Iain Thomson Sodexo’s director of incentive and recognition explains, employers need to understand that the benefits that improve people’s lifestyles hold far more value than financial ones. So instead of risking lower productivity levels and absenteeism, businesses should find simple, affordable ways to reward their staff.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for non-financial perks that will make your Practice staff feel truly special this Christmas:

Christmas Jumper Day
It may sound silly, but this fun, festive celebration really can lift your staff morale – while putting a few smiles on customers’ faces, too. Encourage staff to don a Christmassy knit on Friday 16th December; and why not let your customers know so that if they have an appointment that day, they can kit out their pet, too? The more, the merrier! And don’t forget a prize for the winner and to share the photos on social media.

Flexible working
The previously-mentioned Sodexo study found that trying to juggle work and family commitments, including activities such as Christmas shopping, puts stress on employees at this time of year, with one in three respondents admitting this was the case. So, allow for flexible hours where possible and perhaps let staff take it in turns to leave early once a week.

Extra holiday
Nearly one in five (19%) of the Sodexo survey respondents cited extra holiday as being the most important Christmas perk; so if possible, why not give your team a slightly longer break this year? Consider whether you could open reduced hours between Christmas and New Year, or if you could get by with fewer members of staff. Not everyone will want extra time off as some would prefer the money, but those who do will come back in the New Year feeling refreshed, recharged and fully engaged.

A fun awards ceremony
Whether you’re having a big staff Christmas party or just a casual get together, make things a bit more interesting by hosting a mini awards ceremony. You can award genuine prizes relating to employee performance, but make sure you throw in a few silly ones too, such as ‘Best Tea Maker’! This is also a great time to give staff a quick overview of the Practice’s performance over the last 12 months. You could include details on things like your best-selling products, how many pets you’ve helped and how the business as faired compared to last year.

When you reiterate to your team how their hard work contributes to the overall success of the Practice, engagement and staff morale will soar. It also helps set the scene for the coming year so everyone returns energised after the holidays.