Why Happiness = Productivity Within the Veterinary Practice

7 min read

An extensive study of happiness and productivity by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School has found that workers are 13% more productive when happy. This is supported by economists at the University of Warwick who found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity. On the other hand, they also found that unhappy workers were 10% less productive.

Generating happiness among employees is considered very important for any business’s performance and survival because happier employees work harder, cooperate better in teams, and as the results above show, they are generally more productive. It’s as simple as that! 

It’s no surprise then that some of the largest companies in the world have started placing more emphasis on employee happiness. Take Google for example, who as a result of employee happiness initiatives, experienced a 37% rise in employee satisfaction.

This begs the question: in one of the most emotionally draining and hectic work environments, why is there not more emphasis placed on employee happiness within the veterinary practice? 

Let’s face it, isn’t life better for everyone when we’re happy? For practice owners and managers, just taking that extra time and effort to ensure the happiness of all employees can make a huge difference. Happier, more productive staff and the resulting improved pet owner experience usually equates to more revenue too! 

So why are practice staff more productive when happy?

Happiness breeds loyalty

A positive practice environment with satisfied employees usually leads to increased employee loyalty and retention. This means your practice can avoid spending time and money on hiring and training new team members. Not having to train new employees also reduces the workload of existing staff, in turn improving efficiency.

Did you know that employee appreciation plays a significant role in gaining loyalty? We found some results in a survey carried out by Boston Consulting Group which showed that there is only one simple thing that employees want from their jobs, “appreciation”!

Furthermore, loyal and happy employees are more punctual and have fewer instances of work absence. They are dedicated to what they do, willing to go that extra mile, and are generally more productive.

Happy employees care for the practice

Happy employees are normally the ones who embrace the practice’s goals as their own and are driven to achieve them. Ensuring the happiness of your practice team (potentially through implementing employee happiness initiatives) will increase the likelihood of them caring for your practice like it’s their own.

When employees are happy they are more compelled to work to their fullest potential as they feel invested in the practice’s growth goals. Happy staff are also more responsive to the needs of customers. 

Happy employees are healthier

Unhappiness and stress at work can lead to burnout and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.  Not only are these causes for concern for the long term health of staff, but also lead to increased absences, potential legal issues, less productivity within the practice and decreased levels of customer service. 

As published by Safe work Australia, a workers’ healthy regulatory body, Australians claim approximately $480 million in compensation for mental health disorders that relate to work every year, accounting for around 6% of total workers’ compensation claims. They further concluded that employees going through extreme depression take 20x more sick days each month.

 Happy employees are more likely to stay healthy, be positive and contribute more towards the healthy growth of the practice.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

Albert Schweitzer

Happy employees make more money for the practice

Although most veterinary practice owners and employees are not driven by money but rather a passion for animal care, practices are still businesses that need to turn a profit. And one of the best ways to increase profit may well be by ensuring happiness across the practice.

A study that examined companies listed on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ between 1998 to 2005 found that companies on the list experienced a 14% increase in stock price on average, compared to an average of 6% for companies overall.

Considering that stock price usually indicates better business performance and that one of the key criteria for membership on the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list is employee happiness, it’s safe to say that happiness positively impacts business performance.

How can you increase employee happiness?

We’ve highlighted four ways employee happiness can boost productivity and benefit the practice. But how do you go about proactively increasing employee happiness?

Here are five actionable changes you can make to increase the happiness of your practice team:

  • Offer emotional support: As rewarding as they can be, veterinary practices can be emotionally draining environments. By taking 5-to-10 minutes each week to have a check-in with all team members individually, you will show them that you care, identify any issues quickly, and maintain a friendly, positive work environment.
  • Pay employees fairly: Although most practice management will claim that they pay employees fairly, if the employees don’t feel that way, they may feel underappreciated and unhappy. You may not be able to change the company’s pay structure drastically. But if you have some control over budget and can afford to offer that little bit more, it’s worth reviewing salaries (the most common is on an annual basis). After all, if employees feel underpaid, they may jump ship and accept a more lucrative offer elsewhere, which causes recruitment headaches. 
  • Provide feedback (positive or negative) with useful advice: If you want happy employees, you may be hesitant to provide negative feedback. But that doesn’t bring employees happiness; it causes frustration. Your practice team wants to know how they are doing. As long as you give suggestions about how they can improve, your team will embrace the feedback and strive to become better.
  • Reward excellent work with promotions: Some management teams are more concerned with their own career progression than that of their team. You want all employees within your practice to thrive. By helping them, you keep them motivated, working more productively, and enhance your reputation as a developer of people. Don’t be afraid to offer promotions and more responsibility.
  • Remain polite and professional: This seems obvious, but so many practice management teams neglect this. You don’t need to rule with an iron fist to assert authority and get results. Treat people nicely, be fair, but firm and your team will appreciate it with more productivity and a better work attitude.
  • Encourage workplace wellbeing: Most practices think that the wellbeing of an employee is something the employee alone should take care of. Not really! Employees’ emotional and psychological health, personal values like self- confidence and resilience, job satisfaction, and personal development at work are all that impacts their productivity
  • Build morale – teambuilding events: First concern when it comes to organizing an internal event is the cost for the event. What a lot of practice managers don’t know is that a happy practice makes more revenue than an unhappy one. There are plenty of events a veterinary practice can organize to create good co-worker relationships and of course, have fun. Some examples are movie nights, game days, team lunches, Karaoke nights, and even a pet play day will help all employees bond and know each other better.

So there you have it. Employee happiness is vital to any business and should not be ignored. The productivity benefits are huge, customers of your practice will feel the difference and your practice will be better off for it!