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Importance of psychological safety and appreciation at work discussed by experts
Team members do not engage with their work unless they feel safe, connected and valued
Alan Robinson and Ernie Ward discuss creating a vet and nurse friendly practice

The final afternoon at the virtual BSAVA Congress 2021 focused on recruitment and retention. It is no secret that the veterinary industry can struggle to recruit and retain talent, yet considering the psychological drivers for motivation and engagement at work does not always receive the consideration it deserves.

Alan Robinson, managing director of Vet Dynamics, and Ernie Ward, Chief Strategy Officer at Affordable Pet Labs, discussed the importance of safety and security at work and said that retention was “not just about perks”.

Alan explained how team members do not engage with their work unless they feel safe, connected and valued. “People need to be in a positive psychological and physiological state of flow” said Alan. “They need to be in a supportive and safe relationship with practice leaders and managers.”

Alan stated how, in order to be attractive as a place of work, employers need to create an environment where “people can look after themselves” and where “confidence and competence is encouraged”. He explained how we need to understand the veterinary mindset and to acknowledge how a practice environment can threaten resilience and psychological safety.

“Vets and nurses are ethically and morally driven individuals. We think of ourselves as highly resilient – until we’re not.”

Alan’s top tips for building a psychologically-safe workplace included:
  • allowing self-expression where team members can acknowledge their ‘best selves’ as well as their own fallibility
  • tolerating experimentation by modelling curiosity and encouraging failure with learning
  • encouraging purpose by making it matter and sharing personal stories.

Ernie Ward started his talk by explaining the "four Rs" in that all team members deserve “roles, responsibilities, recognition and rewards” – build it and they will come – and reflected on the importance of regular feedback. “Catch someone doing something good each day!”

Ernie stressed the importance of offering praise publicly, but saving constructive feedback for private environments – a behaviour that leaders need to consciously and consistently self-evaluate.

It was emphasised that the activity of showing appreciation to your team did not have to involve spending a lot of money. “A handwritten card is the most valuable way I have ever found to thank people in person” said Ernie, and noted his positive experience of finding out that a former employee had kept a card that he had written to her many years ago.

Alan recommended researching the concept of management by appreciation and learning the five different versions of appreciation. “Find out how people like to be appreciated and apply that individually.”

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Webinar to focus on equine worm control

News Story 1
 Vets, veterinary nurses and RAMAs are being invited to join a free CPD webinar on late winter and early spring equine worm control.

Hosted by Zoetis vet Dr Wendy Talbot, the webinar aims to help prescribers understand which parasites are of most concern at this time of year. It will also cover how to assess parasite risk, selecting a suitable wormer and spring wormer plans, concluding with a Q&A session.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, 18 March at 10 am and will be repeated at 7 pm for those unable to listen during the day. To book the 10 am webinar, click here, and to register for the 7 pm webinar, click here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Avian influenza confirmed in Lancashire

A case of highly pathogenic (HPAI H5N8) avian influenza has been confirmed in two captive peregrine falcons on a non-commercial, non-poultry premises near Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

Following a risk assessment, APHA has declared that no disease control zones have been put in place surrounding this non-commercial, non-poultry premises.

Eighteen cases of HPAI H5N8 have now been identified in poultry and other captive birds in England. A housing order for poultry and captive birds introduced by Defra to control the spread of the disease expired on 31 March, although bird keepers in England are still required by law to comply with biosecurity measures.

For more information, please click here.