How we’re improving our work-life balance
Davies Veterinary Specialists
HR, Support Team, Veterinary Professionals
9th October 2019
It’s National Work Life Week this week, which focuses on the importance of a healthy work-life balance for good mental health.
We’re all aware that we need to find a healthy work-life balance – but it’s not always that easy.
The Mental Health Foundation cites the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK as perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population. One in six of us will experience a mental health problem in any given week. And work related stress costs Britain 10.4 million working days a year.
Ensuring you have a healthy work-life balance helps reduce work related stress and can prevent burnout.
One of the key actions an employer can take to help improve their employees’ work-life balance is to develop policies that acknowledge the association between work related stress and mental health and encourage activities that promote good mental health, like lunchtime exercise or relaxation classes.
It’s particularly pertinent to vets.
To help our team members cope with what can sometimes be a stressful job, earlier this year we established a Mental Health First Aid team.
“Mental health issues are disproportionately high within the veterinary profession. Passion and dedication to veterinary work can lead to the desire to work long hours. Commitment to high standards can cause a feeling of failure if perfection isn’t achieved every time or when patients don’t recover. Ultimately, working with very unwell patients, distressed clients and making end-of-life decisions can lead to compassion fatigue.”
Our Mental Health First Aid team now provides support to our team members and clients on a day-to-day basis. As well as establishing this dedicated team, in March we became a Mindful employer – showing our commitment to providing an open and collaborative environment where our team members can feel comfortable talking about work related stress or mental health issues they’re facing.
We also offer access to face-to-face counselling in partnership with Letchworth Healthy Living Centre and all our heads of service have attended mental health awareness training.
What other steps have we taken?
As a practice, we’re actively discouraging long working hours and encouraging a good work-life balance. More flexible working arrangements have been introduced and many of us are able to work part-time. We have a large staff room to take a break in, with free food and drink. We also organise regular events to bring a bit more fun into the working day. Like our recent welly throwing competition – pictured below.
We’ve been making it easier for team members to fit some relaxation and exercise into their working days – we recently had a Group workout session run by a Personal Trainer and yoga classes.
This month, we’re running a 10,000 step challenge. Teams of 8 are battling it out to do the most steps in 4 weeks and the winners will receive a Spa afternoon.
Emily Prejac, one of our RVNs who is a very experienced Marathon runner, has offered to run a couch to 5K programme to help get non runners active.
We also regularly run charity fundraising events – like our very competitive bake off.
And if we ever need a bit of time out during a stressful day we can always step outside to take in the beautiful countryside or borrow one of our team member’s pets for a therapeutic cuddle. We’re lucky enough to be able to bring our pets to work – and having a pet in the workplace is another proven way of reducing stress – read more about that here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pets-work.
We might not all have managed to achieve the perfect work-life balance yet, but we’re getting there.
Linnaeus Veterinary Limited trading as Davies Veterinary Specialists 01582 883950
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