Desert Vet is tops in Workplace Excellence
There are not too many offices where awards like the “Crappie Fish Award” and “Clown Fish Award” are handed out to lucky employees. But at Desert Veterinary Clinic, this year's top winner for 2010 Workplace Excellence, the animal references work perfectly.
“We feel our unique rewards encourage the team toward excellence and loyalty,” said Cheryl Haugo, Desert Veterinary's senior veterinarian, in her application.
“Management's goals,” said Haugo, “are a positive, mentoring workplace, balance and a good standard of living for our team.”
Founded in 1989, Desert Veterinary Clinic provides veterinary services including wellness examinations, behavior counseling, dentals, surgery, lab work, pharmacy services and after-hours emergency care. With 21 employees, Desert Vet has built a practice with a strong human resources strategy, clear recruitment and retention policies, open communication and myriad morale-boosting activities.
“When the atmosphere is positive, everyone benefits and there are fewer staff turnover,” said Haugo.
Desert Vet aims to provide outstanding, high-quality care to Yuma's animal population with a staff of well-trained veterinarians, support staff, customer care folks and technicians. Each employee is educated about the products, policies, procedures and the culture at Desert Vet, and thanks to partnerships with local schools like Arizona Western College and organizations like the Yuma Private Industry Council, Haugo has helped many entry-level assistants go on to become licensed veterinary technicians or veterinary nurses.
Dana Simmons and Matthew Balady, two tech assistants at the clinic, agree that Desert Vet has helped facilitate advancements in both of their careers and the way they see it, being donned the Clown or Crappie fish is all part of a positive and gratifying work environment.
“We are given amazing opportunities to learn and grow,” the duo said in their nomination form. “They reward good work and make a point to verbally reward success.”
When it comes to hiring employees, Desert Vet's unique internal mentorship program – one that pairs a new team member with a more seasoned employee – has helped the staff develop into confident workers who are focused on providing superior pet care and that, says Haugo, “has a positive influence on the team and the client.”
Since conditions at a veterinary clinic can sadly be less than appealing, the “Crappie Fish” award was born. It's doled out to the team member who has to deal with the most unpleasant thing, while the “Clown Fish” award is presented to the funniest employee. In appreciation for their dedication, discounted veterinary services, puppy play parties and pet obedience classes are also available to staff members. And besides the humorous awards, “sand dollars” are presented by any team member when they feel a fellow employee has gone the extra mile for a patient. Speakers are also invited to weekly paid team training meetings, and employees are honored on their birthday and employment anniversary.
“Our job is not all puppies and kittens and our great team makes the hard parts easier and the easy parts more fun,” states Haugo.
— By Molly Blake, Special to Yuma Sun