Pulse - August 2021 - 21

DEAR TABBY
The Business Case for Workplace
Well-being
Josh Vaisman
I
n veterinary practices, success leads to happiness, right?
Not so fast. Its happiness that breeds business success,
say psychology experts. And there's research to prove it.
Happiness in the workplace (are you happier looking at this
corgi?) could lead to business success, say researchers. (tatomm/
stock.adobe.com)For most of my life I believed achievement and
success would lead to happiness. I'd say things like, " if I graduate
college, I'll be happy " or " I'll be happy when I make more
money. " So I set my mind to those goals and achieved them. I got
my degree, bought into a veterinary hospital, sold my equity and
bought into a second hospital, joined a consulting company and
worked with a veterinary consolidating startup.
Want to know how to do this?
Dive deeper into improving workplace well-being in these articles:
For the team: " 3 steps to improving well-being and managing
stress in veterinary practice "
For you and your team: " Calm down right now "
For your life: " The power to change lies within "
Well on my way to major financial success, I found myself standing
over my breakfast in tears one morning-burnt out and as
unhappy as I'd ever been.
In veterinary medicine, I am not alone. Results of the Merck
Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study, released in early 2018,
show that veterinarians under age 45 are more than twice as likely
as the general population to suffer from serious psychological
distress.1 Furthermore, recent data from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention show that " male veterinarians were 2.1
times as likely and female veterinarians were 3.5 times as likely to
die from suicide as were members of the U.S. general population. "
I believe we veterinary professionals have bought into the conventional
mindset that success leads to happiness. Not only is this
mindset wrong, it's harming us.
Happiness fuels success: In his book The Happiness Advantage, wellbeing
researcher Shawn Achor shows that success doesn't lead to
happiness. Rather, he says, happiness leads to success. A 2005 metaanalysis
of more than 200 studies involving over 275,000 people
worldwide confirms Achor's findings that happiness leads to success
in nearly every aspect of life, including at work.
Two decades of research in the fields of positive psychology,
organizational psychology and neuroscience have proven time and
again that a happy brain performs better. In the workplace this socalled
happiness advantage leads to better business performance.
That is, companies with happy employees enjoy better business
outcomes, veterinary hospitals included.
The Losada line: In 1998, social psychologist Barbara Frederickson,
PhD, introduced the benefits of positive emotion. Her work
shows that positive emotions have a " broaden and build " effect on
the human brain. That is, they broaden our attention and cognitive
ability and allow us to build positive neural connections that
enhance our ability to learn, create and innovate.
PULSE
AUGUST 2021
Following on this work, researcher and consultant Marcial
Losada, PhD, set out to determine whether positive experiences in
the workplace might lead to business success. He studied corporate
teams and categorized their interpersonal interactions as positive
or negative. He found that the highest-performing teams had
at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.
The highest-performing teams had at least a 3:1 ratio of positive
to negative interactions.
In a fascinating example of the power of his findings, Dr. Losada
worked closely with a struggling global mining company. Overall, the
company had a ratio of about one positive experience for every one
negative experience. After team leads were coached for nine months
on methods for increasing positive experiences in the workplace, the
ratio grew to 3.56-to-1, increasing team productivity by over 40%.
Oxytocin, the trust molecule: Trained in economics and neuroscience,
Paul Zak, PhD, was one of the pioneers in the field of
neuroeconomics. He spent more than a decade studying the neurotransmitter
oxytocin. In veterinary medicine we recognize this
as the chemical of birth. In his book Trust Factor, Dr. Zak says that
in humans oxytocin is the neurotransmitter of trust, trustworthiness,
empathy and other prosocial behaviors. One can imagine the
impact oxytocin has on workplace interactions. Perhaps this is why
Dr. Zak's research shows that " ... a culture of trust [is] among the
most powerful predictors economists had ever found to explain
why some countries are prosperous while others are poor. "
Dr. Zak developed a system for measuring oxytocin in employees
in real time. He's shown that an increase in an organization's
overall oxytocin level by a single quartile results in a 25% boost in
productivity, a 27% decrease in employee turnover and a decrease
in sick time used by an average of two days per employee.
His research also unearthed simple ways to increase oxytocin
in an organization's culture, such as by regularly recognizing staff
contributions and providing guided autonomy in the workplace.
In his words, " adding up the value of the increased productivity
and retention ... the total additional revenue each colleague
would produce after moving up one quartile in trust would be
$10,185. " 7 In a veterinary hospital with a staff of 10, that totals
more than $100,000 in additional revenue.
Putting the theory to work: gratitude: The options for improving
workplace happiness are as myriad as they are targeted. What
works for one organization may not work for another, but one
tool that does appear to work well for most businesses is gratitude.
A 2016 meta-analysis showed that regular gratitude practice
increases well-being.8 Include gratitude in your hospital's daily
huddle or rounds by asking everyone to share one good thing
they've experienced in the past 24 hours.
Clearly, a business case for workplace well-being exists. I believe
a moral case exists as well. In caring for ourselves and each other
we build our individual and collective potential. We feel better, we
do better, we care better and our hospitals succeed. P
21

Pulse - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pulse - August 2021

August 2021
Chapter Meetings & Calendar
President’s Perspective
Pulsepoints
SCVMA Profile
Everybody’s Hiring... or Trying To
Practical Pathology
Medical Leeway
UC Davis Update
Tools for Success
Angel Fund
Dear Tabby
The RVT
Industry Insights
Quick Reference
AVMA Diplomates
Digital Photography for Veterinarians
Resources
Disease Table
From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - August 2021 - August 2021
Pulse - August 2021 - Cover2
Pulse - August 2021 - 1
Pulse - August 2021 - 2
Pulse - August 2021 - Chapter Meetings & Calendar
Pulse - August 2021 - President’s Perspective
Pulse - August 2021 - Pulsepoints
Pulse - August 2021 - 6
Pulse - August 2021 - 7
Pulse - August 2021 - 8
Pulse - August 2021 - 9
Pulse - August 2021 - SCVMA Profile
Pulse - August 2021 - 11
Pulse - August 2021 - Everybody’s Hiring... or Trying To
Pulse - August 2021 - 13
Pulse - August 2021 - 14
Pulse - August 2021 - 15
Pulse - August 2021 - Practical Pathology
Pulse - August 2021 - Medical Leeway
Pulse - August 2021 - UC Davis Update
Pulse - August 2021 - Tools for Success
Pulse - August 2021 - Angel Fund
Pulse - August 2021 - Dear Tabby
Pulse - August 2021 - The RVT
Pulse - August 2021 - Industry Insights
Pulse - August 2021 - AVMA Diplomates
Pulse - August 2021 - Digital Photography for Veterinarians
Pulse - August 2021 - 26
Pulse - August 2021 - 27
Pulse - August 2021 - 28
Pulse - August 2021 - Resources
Pulse - August 2021 - Disease Table
Pulse - August 2021 - 31
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Pulse - August 2021 - From the SCVMA Office
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