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Chapter 6

Bridging the Gap Between Personal and Cultural Workplace Wellbeing

Randy Hall

THE IMPORTANCE OF A POSITIVE WORKPLACE CULTURE

The culture in your practice significantly affects your life. Sometimes it’s easy to pretend that we can separate the two or that we can just leave workplace stressors at work, but this is not the case. A growing body of both research and experience demonstrates that leading a healthy, happy life while being part of a stressful or toxic workplace culture is not a realistic expectation.1

What can be done if the culture in the practice falls short of being positive, productive, engaging, and supportive? Veterinary team members should know that there are options short of starting the journey to find a new practice.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION: ANYONE IN THE PRACTICE CAN ENGAGE TO BE A CATALYST FOR CULTURAL CHANGE!

One of the biggest stressors in any workplace is a perceived lack of control, which leads to feeling “trapped.” Once trapped, many will focus on either “misery” or “escape.” If escape is not imminent, misery remains and disengagement grows.

Being present every day as a positive and productive influence is a key component of feeling more in control and more fulfilled by the work you do. By taking this approach, you are leading by example. Leadership is about behavior more than it is about role or job title. This type of engagement is a key part of feeling more comfortable and gratified by your work.

HOW TO GET STARTED

These questions can be helpful in facilitating personal and practice team engagement:

  • What do I want in a team member and how can I be that for others?
  • What could others do to make the environment more positive for me and how can I do more of those things for others?
  • What questions can I ask that might get us thinking as a team about how to improve our culture together?

Regardless of your position, consider having a discussion with your practice’s leadership regarding the benefits of examining and improving your workplace culture. In the same way that your practice team is probably always looking for ways to improve the quality of medical services for your patients, every practice should also be looking for ways to improve the quality of the practice’s workplace environment and culture.

STRIVE FOR HARMONY, NOT BALANCE, IN YOUR PERSONAL AND WORK LIFE

Some experts on culture have stopped using the word “balance” when describing personal and work life coexistence. Balance implies that work and leisure each take up 50% of a person’s thoughts, time, energy, and effort. That is seldom, if ever, true in veterinary medicine. However, “harmony” can be achieved between work life and personal life by taking steps that produce engagement, fulfillment, value, and connection in life outside of work.

HOW TO GET STARTED

  • Explore a new activity or hobby.
  • Begin volunteering.
  • Read books unrelated to veterinary medicine.
  • Find another sense of purpose that is not directly related to your work.
  • Re-engage, initiate, or nurture relationships.

It’s tempting to wait until “you find the time.” The reality is, that isn’t going to happen. Unless there is a firm commitment on taking first steps toward harmony, few will follow through. The goal is to create engaging meaning outside of work to limit feelings of being out of control or trapped in life overall. By owning and thriving in your personal culture, you can experience harmony with the culture inside of work, even if it has room for improvement.

Simply agreeing with these concepts academically will not create a cultural shift inside and outside of work. Neither will waiting until everyone in the practice is on board. Individual team members can make the commitment to themselves, begin engaging in work in a more solutions-oriented manner, and focus on flourishing outside of work.

RESOURCES

  • 4th Gear Consulting
  • Work-Life Balance Is a Myth; Plan for Work-Life Harmony Instead. http://www.4thgearconsulting.com/blog/work-life -balance-myth-plan-work-life-harmony-instead/
  • Culture Change, It Could Happen. http://www.4thgear consulting.com/blog/culture-change-it-could-happen/
  • Culture Is Local. http://www.4thgearconsulting.com/blog/culture-is-local/
  • INC.com
  • Snacks Aside, 4 Strategies for a Healthy Workplace. https://www.inc.com/jeff-pruitt/snacks-aside-4-strategies-for-a-healthy-workplace.html
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REFERENCE

  • Seppala, E, Cameron, K. “Proof that Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive.” Harvard Business Review; 12/5/15.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Randy Hall is a leadership trainer, executive coach, and CEO of 4th Gear Consulting. He works with veterinary hospitals and organizations of all sizes to help them effectively execute culture change, develop leaders, engage employees, and achieve greater success.

Take-Home Message: Our personal wellbeing is significantly impacted by our job satisfaction. Our job satisfaction is significantly impacted by our workplace culture. We can take thoughtful and specific steps to improve our overall wellbeing and make our workplace a healthy and happy place to fulfill our passion for helping pets.

AAHA’s Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing
The Link Between Healthy Workplace Culture and Optimal Personal Wellbeing
  • Download PDF of Roundtable Discussion

Want to share with the entire team?

Pick up free copies of AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing and the roundtable discussion, The Link Between a Health Workplace Culture and Optimal Personal Wellbeing at these locations:

  • AAHA@VMX ( Rosen Centre Hotel)
  • Health & Wellbeing Center ( VMX Expo Hall)
  • AAHA booth ( VMX Expo Hall)
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