5. Practice sick-day success.
Sally, one of your technicians, called in sick. It's a busy day, so what do 90 percent of employers do? They call another
employee on their day off to cover the shift. Don't do it!
"So what are we supposed to do?" you ask. "Work short-handed?" Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. It does two things: It
shows the team how much it hurts when someone is out sick and causes them to think twice before they do that to their co-workers.
At our clinic we tend to have to send sick people home because they know it affects the team, and they know no one is being
called in to cover. So they will even attempt to work wounded.
Of course, it's important to remember that you shouldn't come to work when you're genuinely sick and can't work—especially
if you're contagious. Most people won't mind working short-staffed at your practice because everyone knows you're ill—and
you will cover for them next time they're sick.
It also ensures that you're honoring step No. 2—respecting the day off. Does that mean I've never been called in on my day
off? No. But it's been one time in six-plus years when a flu took down most of the team.
6. Get a life!
Encourage your co-workers to have a life. Do you know what your team members are interested in? Do you know who paints? Who
runs? Who rides? Who reads? Do you ask about their interests? Do you encourage them to pursue them? A fulfilled person with
a rich life is more pleasant to work with, and their presence creates a happier, more productive team. If you don't know what
your co-workers are interested in, get to know them. Encourage your team members to be more engaging, interesting, fulfilled
Our boss recently sponsored six team members to pursue an interest together. He paid our entry fee into a 13.1-mile Diva Run.
We had a blast, and he encouraged us along the way. Shared activities bring teams closer together, improve morale, and help
team members come back to work rested and energized.
I love where I work. You can love where you work, too. Encourage your team to respect the day off, value the vacation, give
over holiday schedules, learn to work shorthanded, and encourage team members to have a life. It's going to be an effort at
first. But one day you'll notice a team member pick up the phone to call a co-worker with a pained expression on her face,
saying, "I'm so sorry to bother you on your day off ... " And won't that be nice?
Julie Mullins is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and the team training coordinator at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. Share your tips
on avoiding burnout at http://dvm360.com/community.