Richard Branson made headlines when he announced that a division of Virgin employees will be provided with unlimited vacation time. He was inspired by Netflix, who implemented the dreamy vacation policy in 2010. Several companies have since followed Netflix's lead, yet this concept seems radical to the masses, who are used to a finite amount of paid vacation days. But has Branson found the key to happy employees?

Branson implemented the policy to help his employees achieve work-life balance, which makes for happier, more productive employees. Your customer-facing staff bear the responsibility of customer satisfaction, and a happy staff member is more likely to offer the best customer service.

Are your team members happy with their careers? It's time to find out. Send an anonymous survey and ask them what they would like to see in their careers and in the workplace. Will there be a few outlandish requests? Possibly. But you won't know what your employees want, and they won't know what they might be able to have, if you never ask them. Most of the requests will be reasonable and will likely have simple solutions that will boost employee satisfaction.

There are several survey services online--a few can be used for free or with a trial service so you can determine which is right for your practice. Check out Survey Monkey, Survey Gizmo, or Google free survey software to find the one that works best for you. The online component allows for anonymity and gives your staff the opportunity to open up and be completely honest in their feedback to you.

Your team members are your most important asset. Without them, your practice could not function. While an unlimited vacation policy might not be possible for a busy veterinary practice, employee satisfaction is important for your practice's continued success. Happiness is contagious: Watch as your team's happiness rubs off on your clients.

Boosting employee satisfaction is just one way to help your practice thrive. Your practice has many moving parts and you need to know how to work with all of them. Become the best leader possible with AAHA's Veterinary Management Institute (VMI). Find out more about the next session, which begins in February.

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