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The most important benefit your workplace can provide

29 Apr 2021 | Gudrun Ravetz


Gudrun Ravetz, Chair of the BVA Good Workplace Working Group, draws on her experiences in developing the #GoodWorkplaces resources to explain why a positive culture is the most important benefit any workplace can provide.

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A veterinary workplace needs…There are lots of things that we could finish this sentence with, and for a long time it has been something that the profession has been searching to answer.

With a crisis in recruitment and retention that has been of concern for several years, the profession ambitiously took the journey to solving the problem. Commencing with VetFutures and continuing with collaborative research between the BVA and the University of Exeter focussing on retention, motivation and satisfaction. The culmination of all the work was the BVA Good veterinary workplace policy position and voluntary code.

Listening to a variety of views

As Chair of the Good Workplace Working Group, it was a privilege to hear the stories (good and bad) of veterinary workplace experiences, to seek out evidence from allied professions and other industries, to help gather real case studies showcasing success, to collate useful resources and so much more.  The great work of a collaborative group and a phenomenal BVA team meant we were able to hear a wide range of views and ideas on how to keep vets happy at work.

A common theme was that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Every workplace is different, and every team will need something different to keep them happy. So how do you make a code that works for all veterinary workplaces, how can one code work to make the myriad of veterinary workplaces all good?  

A position or a code on its own can’t make a workplace better, but that defeatist attitude is thankfully not the view of our profession.  The BVA’s policy position and voluntary code provides the framework, the evidence, the resources and the focus for all workforces to start their journey to create a good workplace.  The beauty of this is that it does not prescribe how you must do things, rather it describes the outcomes you want to seek and reflects on how employer and employee can work together to reach these outcomes. 

A framework for all veterinary workplaces

So, a combination of a desire to change alongside a guiding framework is how you can make a veterinary workplace good, regardless of what type of veterinary workplace you are in.  Previously we had the desire to change but lacked the framework. Now we have that and it is simple, evidence based, obvious and free to all. The next steps are down to each and everyone of us to take that framework and initiate change.

In developing the position, we learnt that for most teams, it’s not the fancy benefits packages or the cakes and yoga that keep them motivated and happy. Instead, it’s getting the basics right which really help the team to feel valued, rewarded and recognised. So, the policy position and voluntary code are based around seven important themes:

  1. Health and Wellbeing
  2. Diversity, Equality and Fair Treatment
  3. Workload and Flexibility
  4. Reward and Recognition
  5. Personal and Career Development
  6. Management and HR Processes
  7. Culture

All of these themes interlink with each other, with culture being the encompassing bubble that makes all of the others truly work for the long term.  

A positive culture is the most important benefit

An important quote from the policy position is: “The most important benefit an organisation can provide is to create a positive culture in which all members of the team feel valued, with the best leadership and management processes supporting this.” 

So, if you are working out how best to reward your veterinary team, focus on creating a positive workplace culture. Invest the leadership and management time into enacting and supporting the BVA Good veterinary workplace voluntary code, and empower employees to help shape their workplace into one to be proud of.


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