12 Ways to Appreciate Your Vet Techs (for National Veterinary Technician Week and Beyond)
Veterinary technicians are vital members of any veterinary care team. They play a huge role in administering the right care to animals in need - and their owners. Veterinary Technician Week (October 14th - October 20th this year) provides a great opportunity to recognize the critical contributions these veterinary professionals make.
Vet Techs Don’t Have it Easy
The life of a vet tech isn’t all puppies and kittens. They often work in a high-stress environment, putting in long hours, caring for ill and anxious pets, cleaning messes, and putting themselves at risk of physical harm. On top of that, many identify office dynamics, communication deficiencies, and lack of resources as major challenges they face in the workplace that lead to a turnover rate of 22%.
It’s no wonder that many vet techs feel underappreciated. From our own research, we’ve found that veterinary technicians, on average, experience lower overall workplace well-being than the average US worker. Furthermore, according to a 2016 NAVTA survey, over half have left the industry entirely within 5 years of graduating from technician school.
How can you keep your vet techs engaged, more productive, and most importantly, feel valued...not just for Veterinary Technician Week, but beyond?
Why Recognition is Important in the Veterinary Industry
One important step is recognition. Organizations with a positive, recognition-rich culture have been proven to be more productive and experience lower voluntary turnover. Showing appreciation in the workplace also improves the company culture by solidifying purpose. 57% of younger workers want to be part of something enjoyable or that makes a difference in society, including many upcoming veterinary technicians.
In honor of Veterinary Technician Week here’s a list of ways to appreciate your vet techs:
1. Provide Coffee for the Week
In my humble opinion, coffee is the elixir of life. And we know, in veterinary medicine, almost everyone loves coffee! Providing fresh java for a week won’t go unnoticed. As an added bonus, you’ll see both appreciation and energy levels go up. 📈
It’s hard to go wrong with this one. You can even throw in a few custom coffee mugs to spice things up. (Just make sure you get the right ratio of cat to dog mugs for your team!) 🐶😺
2. Host Professional Development Classes
Veterinary technicians crave professional growth. 🧠
Finding the right training programs can be a great way to retain your employees while also adding new skills/knowledge to your hospital. Look for opportunities to reward your staff with relevant professional development around topics like new medical techniques, communication and well-being skills, or something they are particularly passionate about. Your team may also be able to tour a local zoo's vet facility to learn more about their operations.
Many veterinary vendor representatives will even provide complimentary in-hospital, technician-relevant continuing education sessions. How’s that for a win-win?
3. Crown an Office DJ for the Day
Music makes us move. Even when it plays in the background, it contributes to the overall atmosphere.
Chances are you play music regularly within your hospital. Try promoting one of your vet techs to Resident DJ, allowing them to mix some beats as a reward. 🎧 It doesn’t cost anything and might even introduce you to your new favorite song.
4. Share a Handwritten Card
Handwritten cards have unique qualities that make them memorable. Unlike emails or other digital messages, they express a unique kind of sentiment that’s rare to see nowadays. Each note makes a difference, and many people cherish them enough to keep them for years.
Having multiple notes from different coworkers can be especially impactful! 📝
5. Give a Half Day Off
Time is priceless. Sometimes a few extra hours can feel like a whole day off, especially when the weather’s nice. It can also provide vet techs with enough time for activities they’d otherwise miss out on.
Think about offering the option to take time off as a reward. Even if you absolutely love your job, a little extra free time is always welcome. ⛺
Note this may be harder to implement for clinics with a smaller staff size.
6. Award Concert Tickets
"A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage."
– Elvis Presley
Seeing a favorite band can be exciting, and it provides benefits like stress reduction, pain relief, and exercise. Concerts can be a great reward for vet techs, whether they’re fans of the Pussycat Dolls or Snoop Dogg. 🤘
7. Gift New Scrubs or Hospital-branded Sweatshirts
Nothing makes techs feel like a valued part of the hospital quite like new uniforms! 👕
Providing new clothing can also set the stage for a great day to take hospital website photos while everyone is looking their best and rockin’ their team colors.
8. Institute a Saturday Sleep-In
If your techs are usually the first ones in and last to leave, see if the weekend doctors wouldn’t mind doing weekend morning treatments, just for one Saturday this week. Getting an extra hour to sleep in is a meaningful gesture to show your techs that their time is important, too. 😴
9. Throw a Team Happy Hour
After-work Happy Hours provide a relaxed atmosphere that can encourage positive staff interactions. They allow team members to learn something new about each other, reduce stress, and can contribute to a positive company culture.
If you choose to host a Happy Hour, be sensitive to any folks who don’t drink. And for those who choose to imbibe, drink responsibly! 🍻
10. Create a Tech Talent Board
Everyone has a life outside of work. A talent board is one way to showcase different talents, hobbies, or other aspects of vet staff that might not be readily apparent. Consider placing a Tech Talent board where it’s easy to see, like the waiting room. 🤹
11. Hire a Masseuse
Veterinary technicians have an emotionally and physically demanding job. Whether it’s restraining animals, cleaning areas, or lifting objects, this kind of work is taxing.
Think about hiring a professional to administer massages, in the hospital, to your vet techs every now and then. 💆
12. Try an Employee Recognition Platform
Employee recognition and reward platforms address the issue of recognition head-on. Bonusly is one example – they empower teams to celebrate success, strive toward shared goals, and reinforce company values through apps available for mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Employees receive timely, specific, and visible recognition with the option of redeeming bonus points for gift cards, donations, or custom rewards. 🙌
For examples of how to use an employee recognition platform, Bonusly recently wrote about applying their platform to veterinary clinics.
Need more? Check out this list of 55+ creative employee appreciation ideas.
Appreciate Your Vet Techs
We know fatigue and burnout are real problems in the veterinary industry. While recognition isn’t a cure-all for the challenges that vet techs face, it’s a step in the right direction. If you’re concerned about job satisfaction and turnover in your clinic, we invite you to take a closer look at how recognition can help your team - and not just during special occasions like Veterinary Technician Week.
We hope this list gives you a few ideas to try in your own veterinary operation!
What other ideas do you have?
Written by Josh Vaisman in collaboration with our friends at Bonusly