VetLed HALT Campaign: Leadership and creating a culture of wellbeing

A core objective for the VetLed HALT campaign is to raise awareness of some key physical and mental elements commonly affecting wellbeing and to create a trigger for us to pause and observe how we are feeling. This can greatly increase the likelihood of noticing our own signs…that we could be hungry, thirsty, anxious or tired and this is an essential first step, but what next?

Throughout our campaign we have shared some ideas that can be used as simple day-to-day tools and strategies to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Key to bringing these ideas to life, is to embed them as part of your organisational culture. We passionately believe that culture in this sense, is the sum total of the attitudes and behaviours of those within it and is therefore changed and sustained by the whole team. However, this must start and be consistently demonstrated by the leaders within a team. Practice managers, lead vets, head nurses, head receptionists and everyone with a leadership role must create the metaphorical wave and subsequently be an equal part of the team who keep it going.

From a wellbeing perspective, taking breaks is a great example. Once members of a team can easily recognise their own signs and identify when they need some time for self-care, it’s crucially important that they feel ‘safe’ to do so. Such a feeling of safety could be compromised if they feel as though they are the only ones doing it or that taking a break could reflect on them poorly. In this instance, the message from management and leaders should be clear; that self-care is respected and encouraged. Subsequently this message can be reinforced if leaders consistently demonstrate such behaviour themselves and respond positively when concerns are raised regarding workload, fatigue or other wellbeing related matters.

Whilst it might seem counter-intuitive, research suggests that when it comes to workload, sometimes less is more. Consideration for potentially fatiguing shift patterns and allowing time for breaks not only enables team members to be more efficient with their time but also means they will be less likely to make mistakes.

Creating a wellbeing culture, means cultivating an environment in which everyone feels safe to look after themselves, to be able to take reasonable breaks and to be able to voice concerns. Once this is truly part of the culture it becomes a natural part of ‘the way things are done’ in which wellbeing is prioritised as the foundation for delivering effective care.