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Our Good workplace journey – Part 1

21 Sep 2021 | Tanya Crawley


Tanya Crawley shares how her workplace used the BVA good veterinary workplaces resources to improve.

Our Good workplace journey – Part 1  Image

When the BVA good workplaces voluntary code launched last year, I immediately decided that my team should commit to putting into practise. I committed to this publicly in the LVS Autumn Series. Fortunately, my enthusiasm was shared and the team were happy to sign up.

One year on, I thought that we would have worked through a lot of it and made huge changes by now, but I didn’t expect that we’d be dealing with so much extra pressure for so long. We’re still in a position where just getting on with the day job is enough, and with several staff changes, it’s been a challenge to make any progress. But we haven’t given up, and the improvements we have made are definitely noticeable.

A positive experience

For me, the Good workplace resources launched when we needed them the most. As well as giving us ideas and solutions to challenges we’ve faced, it gave us something positive to focus on and feel energised about. Despite the workload pressures, our team is excited to be working towards a better workplace.

The voluntary code is easy to read and engage with. It clearly shows that responsibility lies on both sides and creating a good workplace doesn’t rest entirely on my shoulders as the employer. I was proud to see that we are already doing many of the things that good workplaces are meant to do. There were also several key points that I’d been trying to encourage team members to do for years, so the code helped me to explain these and provided reassurance that I was on the right track.

The most important thing this code has given us is a platform to start conversations. It does not provide the solutions or a quick fix, but has encouraged us all to talk more openly and honestly about how we are feeling at work. I definitely feel the team are now more able to speak and tell us if there’s a problem, and they know we’ll be willing to listen.

How we started

The first thing I did was print two copies of the workbook and asked everyone to read through it.

I also printed a copy of the poster and asked team members to sign it if they were happy to commit to working towards this vision for a good workplace. I’m proud to say that every member of the team signed.

We decided to focus on the workload and flexibility section first. This felt like an easy place to start, something everyone could understand and not feel too threatened by the changes we needed to make. It was also very timely since the pandemic had completely changed how we worked, and we were looking for ways to relieve some of the pressures.

To begin, the whole team watched the webinar and were asked to come up with ideas for how we could improve. I made a simple suggestion box so everyone could post anonymous suggestions, which has worked really well for us. You can read about all the positive changes we made in Part 2 of this blog.

Once we’d made positive steps on the workload and flexibility section, we started looking at the Equality, diversity and inclusion chapter. I’m excited by the changes we have made and looking forward to learning more about this.

My top tips

Every workplace will be different, but here is some advice based on what has worked well for us:

  • Keep talking about Good workplaces – We regularly discuss the voluntary code in our team meetings, as the principles apply to everything we do. This reminds everyone what they’ve committed to and encourages open conversation.
  • Give people time and space to come back with what they think – This is process, so you can’t expect instant changes or ideas. If you keep talking about it, the ideas will eventually come through.
  • Include Good workplaces in the CPD syllabus – I added some of the BVA and VDS training webinars to the team’s CPD syllabus, to make sure they make the time to watch. Some teams members watched together in their lunch breaks.
  • Focus – We know there is lots to do, and that could seem overwhelming, so we’ve focussed on the topics that matter most to us first
  • Go at your own pace – I thought we’d cover a topic every month, but now one topic every quarter seems more feasible. It doesn’t really matter how quickly we progress, the important thing is that we do.

What next?

We’ll never be finished with our Good workplace journey – all have lots to learn and want to keep improving. I’m proud of our achievements already and excited to see what we can do next.

If you want to get started, check out the BVA Good workplaces hub, especially the How to get started webpage.


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