A vet and veterinary nurse chatting in a practice

BVA issues rallying call for veterinary settings to commit to its Good Veterinary Workplaces Voluntary Code

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is appealing to veterinary settings across the UK to commit to its vision for good veterinary workplaces, to help ensure that all working environments are supportive and welcoming to everyone.

Launched on 21 September to coincide with the start of 2020’s International Week of Happiness at Work, the Good Veterinary Workplaces Voluntary Code sets out clear criteria for what makes a good workplace, based on a new evidence-based BVA policy position. The Code is accompanied by a workbook which veterinary teams can work through together to look at how they can meet a range of criteria. 

Teams will be asked to assess what they already do well in areas including health and wellbeing, diversity and equality, workload and flexibility, and providing opportunities for personal and career development, as well as identifying areas for improvement and any HR and management processes that need to be put in place to achieve a positive workplace culture.

The Voluntary Code is being published as part of the launch of BVA’s Good Veterinary Workplaces policy position, a comprehensive paper offering 64 practical recommendations for employers and staff on how to offer a fair and rewarding work environment where everyone feels valued. The policy, which has been developed with input from a working group formed in April 2019, also includes 36 case studies showcasing successful changes and initiatives implemented in the veterinary profession and more widely in the world of work.

BVA decided to develop the Good Veterinary Workplaces policy off the back of an extensive body of work looking at key workforce issues in the profession, including recruitment and retention challenges, a lack of diversity across the workforce, and general high levels of stress and burn-out in veterinary teams. The joint BVA/RCVS-led Vet Futures project identified the need to explore the work-related challenges facing vets and take action to create a sustainable and thriving workforce that can maximise its potential.

As well as the workbook, veterinary teams will also be able to download, sign and display a Voluntary Code poster signalling their commitment to working towards being a good veterinary workplace.

Gudrun Ravetz, Chair of the Good Workplace Working Group, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see the launch of our valuable and comprehensive policy, which sets out a vision of the good veterinary workplaces that we should all be striving to create across the profession. This vision has been shaped by valuable contributions from across the veterinary community, and it’s also been really useful to draw on good practice in the wider world of work.

“Each and every one of us deserves to work in a setting where we feel valued, supported and fairly rewarded for the contribution we make, but sadly this isn’t the reality for all veterinary professionals. By setting out the steps that all veterinary workplaces can take to offer a more welcoming and inclusive environment, with measures in place to help them address issues and continue to improve, we hope to see more workplaces where staff can thrive and enjoy a fulfilling career.”

Daniella Dos Santos, BVA Senior Vice President, said: “It’s time for us all to take action to create a culture shift in veterinary workplaces. That means taking positive steps so that diversity and inclusion is championed at all levels, all team members have access to personal and professional development opportunities, and there is recognition that prioritising staff wellbeing is good for businesses.

“In creating the Voluntary Code and workbook, we’ve purposefully made this something that isn’t driven from the top down but is instead something that everyone in the team can feel empowered to feed into and sign up to. This is a golden opportunity for our profession to take ownership of our workplaces, improve conditions, and make sure that we have positive working environments in which we can all take pride.”