Over the past two years, veterinary receptionists have faced numerous tough challenges in veterinary practices across the UK. As a result of this, overall job satisfaction among receptionists has hit an all-time low. The British Veterinary Receptionist Association (BVRA) survey results from 2021 show a score of only 3 out of 10 for overall job satisfaction, with no change seen from the 2020 survey results.
The role that veterinary receptionists play within a practice has developed rapidly over the past couple of years. Receptionists are now finding themselves assisting other departments more often, in addition to taking on more day-to-day tasks to ensure the smooth running of the veterinary practice.
Looking at a breakdown of the BVRA 2021 survey, only 34 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the morale in their practice and only 32 percent of those who responded were satisfied or very satisfied with the recognition they received. It’s vital that as team leaders and managers we support our reception teams and look to improve their morale.
How can we improve morale of the reception team?
There are a number of actions managers and team leaders can take to boost the morale of their reception, and wider, teams in the veterinary practice. The actions we’ve highlighted below provide a good starting point.
Communication in a veterinary practice is a key part of team morale. If there is a breakdown in communication it can leave team members feeling confused and frustrated. To facilitate open communication, it is important that messages and important information updates are made clear to all members of staff, so that everyone is on the same page.
Communication in a veterinary practice is a key part of team morale. If there is a breakdown in communication it can leave team members feeling confused and frustrated
As a manager or team leader, it is important that your team feel that they can approach you, whether this be in person, through a phone call or by email. Having an open-door policy is one of the best ways to be approachable to your team.
Another great way of boosting morale, and to get your team to work well, is to work with them and lead by example in the reception environment. Being on the reception desk alongside receptionists is a great way of opening that line of communication and may facilitate an element of mutual respect for each other’s roles. It’s encouraging to see that 75 percent of respondents to the BVRA 2021 survey felt comfortable approaching their line manager or team leader for support, where needed.
Visibility and recognition
It’s important to promote the great work of veterinary receptionists so that colleagues and members of the public gain an insight into the day-to-day role that we play in practice
When speaking to veterinary receptionists, two things they look for from colleagues and clients is recognition and reward. This is definitely an area for improvement within veterinary practices as there is a presumption that as veterinary receptionists we are “just” receptionists, when we are so much more than this, and we cover such a wide aspect of duties within our role. It’s important to promote the great work of veterinary receptionists so that colleagues and members of the public gain an insight into the day-to-day role that we play in practice.
An essential way to support employees, and help boost their morale, is by offering them career development opportunities and by investing in their future. This is something our practice has started to offer, through enabling our employees within the client care team a CPD budget to undertake courses. Having been able to complete courses recently myself, I found that it really does give you a sense of achievement, and having a goal to work towards gives you a focus and a drive to want to be a better veterinary receptionist. When you complete the course, the reward of receiving your certificates and qualifications also gives you a boost in morale.
It’s important that reception teams get along and work well together as we work so closely with each other every day. It’s also important that managers and leaders ensure that their teams are taking a lunch break, as this gives team members a break from the pressures of the reception desk, helping them to feel refreshed for the afternoon ahead.
Overall, the biggest take-home for me from conversations with colleagues and veterinary receptionists across the country is that they strive to get a thank you. For them, this recognises the hard work they put in every day and gives them the acknowledgement that they are doing a good job. As a team leader, I will always say thank you if I see someone within the practice going the extra mile, or when I am made aware of something they have done where they have gone above and beyond their remit for a client or colleague.