Tales from the Frontline: Veterinary Team Morale Doesn't Mean Butterflies and Roses
Morale is defined as “the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand.” When we talk about team morale it often brings up images of smiling, happy-go-lucky team members who are giving each other high fives throughout the day. One of the biggest misconceptions about having great team morale is that everyone should be happy and excited to do their job. Being aware that this is not always a reality is crucial to everyone finding their happiness in this profession.
Sometimes The Going Gets Rough
Nothing in the world is perfect. Veterinary medicine isn’t perfect. Acknowledge that there will be grumpy clients, fractious animals, sad cases, and times that we don’t enjoy everything we do. Remember that our profession is truly one aspect of people’s lives. There’s also paying bills, having your car break down, mental heath struggles and the sadder moments in life. Without sadness or struggle, there cannot be happiness. So how does this cross over into team morale? We should strive to create an environment where people feel safe to express where they are right now. Acknowledge that there will be good moments and times that are challenging. But we can get through it.
Gossip Cares Not About Policy
Having a No Gossip Policy sounds like a dream come true. There won’t be hushed whispers around the water cooler. There won’t be staff telling reception how someone on the team had just a little too much to drink at the bar last weekend. No one will ever say anything hurtful about or to each other. The reality is people are always going to gossip to some extent. This is not an excuse. If someone is complaining about something or someone that they are not able to correct, we must redirect. The only way to solve a problem is to bring it to a supervisor or management who can hopefully help fix it. What happens outside of work is not ours to discuss. The best outcome is that you have a group of people who truly enjoy each other enough to not want to cause drama or hurt feelings.
Accepting That Not Everything is Fun
Imagine if there was a world where we were excited to go grocery shopping or do our laundry every single time. We can love who we work with and what we do. But it’s not going to be fun all the time. Even the excitement of a new skill may fade over time. Ultimately there will be parts of our jobs we like better than others. New puppy exams are fun and light. Dealing with a parvo puppy with hemorrhagic diarrhea is not. Accept the good with the bad and find a team who looks to enjoy the fun moments or try to crack a joke during the not so fun ones.
Having a great team morale is more about resilience and truly caring about the people and pets we work with. It’s about feeling seen and heard. It’s about the psychological safety of being ourselves at work. We cannot eliminate all the bad or sad parts of our job. But if we’re lucky, we can have more positives than negatives. No profession will ever be perfect. But we can choose to look for the happy moments and help others find their own.
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