Video: Holiday Scheduling Tips for Veterinary Clinics

Welcome to Off Label Veterinary News, your source for commentary on animals, medicine, and practice life. This episode Dr. Ward offer his tips to help you "Horrible Holidays" into a more joyful workplace! Let's keep the "happy" in Happy Holidays!

In this special Holiday Drama episode, we discuss:

Common causes of Holiday Drama:
1. Equitable and Fair Staff Scheduling Time-off during Holidays
2. Travel schedules
3. Visitors - at home and in-clinic
4. Families with young children - juggling their schedules and needs
5. Staff loneliness, depression, anxiety, and stress

Anticipate Anxiety - Staff and Clients may experience stress: Remembering lost family members, illness, upcoming travel, preparing for visitors. Don’t let stress and anxiety spread through your team. Recognize and support staff members who begin to get frazzled. Find out why Dr. Ward suggests his "Kiss a Cat" routine.

Managers need to understand stress will happen and try to mitigate it. Have a holiday plan for staff and client stress and anxiety in place before the holidays hit.

Fair and Equitable Time Off
Have staff submit request in advance Encourage self-solutions - work it out with other staff members before submitting requests
When scheduling conflicts occur, management/owners must decide based on:
- Previous holiday schedule
- Seniority
- Special circumstances
- Families with young children often take priority on Christmas morning and this may be an opportunity to swap with younger staff for January 1 after New Year’s Eve!

Strategic Appointment Scheduling
- Day After Disasters!
- Holiday surge of visiting pets, non-clients of clinics closed, etc
- Limit routine appointments, esp. new puppy/kitten/patient visits
- The tendency is to fill the schedule, FOMO (fear of missing out) - your schedule will be filled! We discuss the potential negative impact on new and routine visits.

If revenue from appointments dips during the holidays, it may be worth it (at least to me) in reduced staff stress and increased morale.

If your clinic boards many animals during holidays, you may want to consider limiting personal items pets are allowed to bring into the clinic or kennel during peak times.

Everything needs to be prepped on the day before a holiday: Consider pre-measured meal bags containing medications clearly labeled, personal belongings well-organized and create a system for storing and retrieval of items quickly and efficiently.

Have laundry completed, packs prepped, cleaning done to limit work necessary on holiday mornings.

On Holidays
- Make it fun for pets and staff - reduce stress
- Leave little gifts for staff or hand-written thank you cards
- Have staff offer special holiday treats or gifts
- Offer to buy brunch for staff working holidays

Hip Hop Christmas by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist: