Fletcher Vet achieve Employer of Choice Accreditation

28 Jul 2022

Image (L - R): Dr Paul Robin with his dog Trixie, Practice Manager Clare Salmon and veterinary nurse Georgia Radnidge

 

The AVA’s Employer of Choice (EOC) Accreditation program is an intensive, rigorous auditing process that recognises employers with exceptionally high standards of staff recruitment, engagement and retention.

As an inclusive workplace that values diversity, it’s no surprise that Fletcher Veterinary Practice (FPV) achieved EOC accreditation. FVP works with its people to bring out their best, with an informal staff wellness process, a Practice Manager with an ‘open door’ policy, and a formal appraisal process that allows employees to solidify their professional goals and aspirations. They also take steps to recognise and reduce the common stressors of the veterinary industry such as compassion fatigue and burnout.

FVP is a small animal practice located in Fletcher, a suburb west of Newcastle in NSW. The practice has grown from its inception as a one vet, one nurse clinic in 1998 to its current size with eight vets and twelve nurses. The premises, which has recently been renovated, has state of the art equipment, multiple surgical areas, wet prep area, hospital and an outdoor courtyard waiting area for large dogs. They recently opened up a satellite branch clinic in Wallsend NSW due to increasing demand and growth.

The staff are a close-knit team led by principal vet and owner Dr Paul Robin, who has a special interest in orthopaedic surgery and a willingness to share his passion via teaching others. Dr Robin and his team are proud that their efforts to maintain a supportive workplace environment have been industry-recognised by the EOC Accreditation program. As Practice Manager Clare Salmon says, “Meeting this standard gives us all a sense of pride in our work, trust in our team and a general feeling that striving for excellence is valued, and this further enhances our team and work environment.”

There were multiple reasons why FVP embarked on the EOC Accreditation journey – a process that was instigated by Dr Robin and orchestrated by Clare. First and foremost, FVP wanted to position themselves as an Employer of Choice for prospective employees looking for a supportive environment in which to further their careers. They also valued the way the EOC Accreditation journey highlighted both the successes and gaps in their HR policies, and the resultant ability to streamline and maximise their employee satisfaction and regulatory processes. Some specific, positive outcomes emerging from achieving EOC Accreditation included implementing more robust Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policies, positive changes to employment contracts and increasing the clarity and relevance of the workplace policy handbook.

The EOC process included initial consultation with staff followed by an anonymous questionnaire covering performance assessment; this way, they were able to ensure staff were all on board and engaged with the EOC journey. As a result, FVP staff had a sense of ownership over the EOC Accreditation process, and an immense amount of pride once they achieved it. The process was a positive team bonding experience and strengthened FVP’s commitment to a collaborative and harmonious veterinary practice. “When staff feel valued”, Clare says, “they are safe and have all the resources and supports they need to do their job well.” This has the flow-on effect of optimising patient and customer care, meaning the beneficial effects of EOC Accreditation are not just for staff, but for clients too.

 

Image: Dr Gin Ng (on left) from Fletcher Veterinary Practice accepts the EOC Accreditation plaque from most recent AVA past President Dr Warwick Vale.

FVP achieved EOC Accreditation in May 2022 and this status will last for four years. During this time, they have established 12-monthly reviews on policies and procedures, expanded regular team meetings and introduced regular WHS meetings. They also plan to perform regular reviews of Fair Work Ombudsman guides to ensure staff receive correct awards and entitlements and continue emphasising staff wellbeing and professional development.

For practices interested in pursuing EOC Accreditation, Clare says, “The EOC process is challenging but… of benefit to your business, your staff and your clients… All veterinary practices can benefit from the EOC process.” She offers the following tips:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete it
  • Approach it with an open mind
  • Be prepared to look for solutions knowing that the outcome will be of benefit to your business, your staff and your clients
  • Have flexibility, so that you can adapt to constantly-evolving best practice standards
  • Recognise the value is not just in the completion of the application, but in the journey

And last, but definitely not least, Clare imparts the following wisdom: “Value your team. They are the life-blood of your practice.”