Veterinary technicians are the backbone of any practice. Their ability to multitask is superhuman. Vet techs fill the roles of skilled nurses, supportive caretakers, lab assistants, record organizers, patient advocate, compassionate listeners, and so much more. They are, without question, the unsung heroes of the veterinary profession. With Vet Tech Week just around the corner we have some ideas to help you show the vet techs and other veterinary team members at your practice how much they mean to you.
What is Veterinary Technician Week?
Since 1993, we have celebrated Veterinary Technician Week during the third week of October to honor these crucial members of our team and show our appreciation for all that they do.
Showing appreciation for your staff isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. Employees who feel valued by their employers are more engaged at work and are more likely to stay in their jobs. Turnover is an expensive problem, and one that runs rampant in the veterinary industry. In fact, the vet tech turnover rate is reported to range between 23 and 50%. Taking the time to show thanks for your team (not just during Vet Tech Week, but all year long) is an important part of your role as the business owner or manager.
Here are some ways practice owners, managers, and vets can show their love and celebrate the work vet techs do this coming National Veterinary Technician Week (Oct 16-22, 2022).
Vet Techs Deserve to be Celebrated
As we all know, veterinary technicians have a tough job. It is physically challenging: vet techs spend long hours on their feet, and exert great effort lifting, moving, and restraining animals every day. What’s more, the job can be mentally and emotionally draining. Vet techs are often the first point of contact for our clients, answering questions, delivering news, and everything in between. They bear the brunt of our client’s emotions when things get difficult. Despite our best efforts, not every animal who comes through our doors will have a positive outcome. All of that emotional labor can take a toll. A 2017 study by the AVMA found that up to 49% of veterinary professionals experience moderate to severe burnout at work. In addition, the covid-19 pandemic has introduced a whole host of new challenges that have not entirely subsided even as life has largely gotten back to normal. The pandemic saw a surge in pet ownership, staffing shortages, and a frustrating patchwork of health and safety protocols. Our vet techs deserve recognition now more than ever.
❤ Time off
Given how hard our veterinary technicians work, perhaps there’s no better way to say “thank you” than with some well-deserved time off. Burnout is prevalent in the veterinary industry, especially among technicians. The years since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic have been extra challenging in so many ways. Giving your veterinary technicians some extra time to spend with their families or enjoy some rest and relaxation is a perfect way to show that you recognize their efforts and care about their wellbeing.
❤ Team retreat
Getting your staff together for some time away from the clinic or hospital is a great way to build connections among your team members and show appreciation for their hard work. This might be a movie, a concert, a baseball or football game, a nature hike, or even a cookout. The point is to treat your people to a fun and relaxing experience outside of the work environment. If possible, allow them to bring along their kids and spouses, too. This shows that you view your team members as full people with rich, meaningful lives, and not just as your employees. Whatever you plan, be sure to provide food and drinks!
❤ A spa day
Who doesn’t love a day at the spa? Veterinary techs have physically demanding jobs, so the opportunity to get a massage or other relaxing treatment might be overdue. Vet techs also bear a lot of the emotional burden of the practice. They often suffer from compassion fatigue and emotional burnout, and it can be difficult to unplug from that even when the workday ends. A spa gift certificate might sound like a frivolous gift, but taking time for self care is crucial to long term mental wellbeing.
❤ Pet photos
For a more creative gesture of appreciation, why not treat your employees to a professional photo shoot for them and their pets? We’re so busy caring for other people’s pets, we don’t always get the chance to celebrate our own. You can hire a photographer to come to your office, or schedule a day for your techs to visit the photography studio. Your vet techs can cherish these photos as keepsakes for years to come, and you can even use them to decorate the lobby of your office!
❤ Professional development opportunities
Another unconventional way to show your team you value them is to pay for them to better themselves. One of the top reasons employees leave their jobs is a lack of room to grow. You can support your staff by not only connecting them with growth opportunities, but paying for them as well. If there is a class, a trip, or some other opportunity your vet techs want to explore to further their careers, that’s a great way to invest in your people and your business.
❤ Share a meal
Some of the most memorable moments are the ones we share with people we care about during a meal. Taking your staff out to a nice dinner (or even a Happy Hour!) is a great way to not only express your thanks, but it’s also a good team-building experience. During this time away from the office, people tend to relax a bit, share about their personal lives, and bond with one another. That connection will strengthen their abilities to communicate and work together in the workplace. Be sure to take a moment to make a brief toast and express your gratitude for all that your vet techs do for the clinic and the animals they care for every day.
❤ Personalized items
Of course, you can thank your vet techs with tangible gifts, too. Adding some personalization to your gift will drive home the fact that you recognize each and every one of your vet techs individually for their contributions to your practice. For example, you might gift each of your techs a stethoscope engraved with their name on it. Or, give a high-quality branded sweatshirt or jacket with their name embroidered on it. For something a little more budget-friendly, a tote bag for their tools, or even a coffee mug can be a nice gesture.
Depending on the size of your practice, you may be able to pick out personal gifts for your vet techs that are unique to their interests and hobbies. If someone loves reading, maybe gift them a new book or a gift card to the local bookstore. If someone is into yoga, treat them to their next class package. Adding a personal touch will help your people feel seen.
❤ Gift cards to their favorite restaurants
If you can’t get your team together to share a meal, you could give each of them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. This will not only be a gift they’re sure to enjoy, but by personalizing each gift card to the recipient, you’ll show that you know and care about each member of your staff.
❤ Flowers or a plant
Sometimes the classics are classics for a reason. When you want to show your appreciation, you can’t go wrong with a bouquet of fresh flowers or a lush plant to brighten their home or workspace.
❤ Handwritten notes
Be it ever so humble, a handwritten note can be very meaningful––if you do it right. This is not the place for generic messages or merely signing your name to a store bought card. Make your message individual and specific to the recipient. Write about certain traits or habits particular to that person. Maybe this staff member always arrives early for work, or is especially skilled at comforting emotional clients, or whose sunny disposition makes hectic days more enjoyable. Call upon specific examples of how they have made a difference in the lives of your clients. Whatever you choose to write, this will be your opportunity to express your appreciation for their unique contributions, especially those that they might not think anyone even noticed. It may take a bit more time, but after all, that’s the point!