Leadership for Change in the Veterinary Industry
3 February 2021
Staff wellbeing in the veterinary industry is well below expectations. This affects not only existing but new staff entering the profession and has a knock-on effect on clients and for animal welfare as high staff wellbeing is essential for quality customer service and animal care. This then risks the viability of the business.
This study investigates the factors needed for success in achieving high staff wellbeing while still meeting veterinary practice (VP) business goals. Following employer interviews, a work environment survey, focus groups and a client survey to ensure clients are also highly satisfied, three in-depth case studies are presented to show that staff wellbeing can be attained in a veterinary business context. While there is no set recipe to follow there is considerable congruence between the case studies and the themes provide a guideline for VPs wishing to actively improve their staff wellbeing. This is not only the right thing to do but is required by Section 36 of the New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The three in-depth case studies presented have been successful without yet solving the industry challenges around financial rewards to staff.
Factors such as a clear vision and values which are lived daily by being embedded into the language, clear KPI’s for wellbeing, kind and collaborative leadership, a whole team approach to creating solutions, taking on feedback positively and using this to continue making improvements and positive communication. A successful VP does not have to be perfect, but they are attuned to receiving feedback and working collaboratively as a team to solve issues. These in-depth case studies all consider themselves learning VPs and this applies to both staff and students on work placement.
This study has significance to current and future employers and employees of the veterinary profession. Implementing the recommended changes and improving staff wellbeing should lead to positive impacts on staff retention, client satisfaction and animal welfare all of which will contribute to the financial success of the business. To maximise the chances of success VPs should ensure baseline wellbeing is measured and engage some external support to help guide and mentor them.
Key words: Wellbeing; Leadership; Veterinary; Business; Collaboration; Vision and values.
This redacted version of the thesis is publicly available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.