An initiative taken by CVS to introduce mindfulness to its veterinary teams in order to address workplace stress has been used as a case study by the Government in a report launched in October called ‘Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace’.
Mindfulness is a mind-body approach which enables individuals to change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. It can help to reduce anxiety and enhance well-being. In doing so, it can also improve performance and productivity and boost job satisfaction. CVS, the largest employer of veterinary surgeons in the UK, began working with the Oxford-based Mindfulness Exchange in 2011 to develop a ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace’ programme for its employees. Since then, more than 20% of CVS’ staff have undergone training in mindfulness techniques, with many, the company says, citing the benefits it has brought them. CVS’ Group Head of Health and Safety, Sean Gillgallon, has also qualified as a Mindfulness in the Workplace Trainer. In the Government report, aimed at promoting mindfulness in the workplace, CVS’ work in this area is quoted as an example of best practice.
Mrs Helen Wiseman, CVS HR Director, said: “While every organisation is affected by mental health issues, evidence suggests that those working in the veterinary sector are at higher risk and every UK employer has a duty to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from the work activities and take action to control that risk. Following a risk assessment we carried out in 2011, we developed an all-inclusive approach to the management of employee wellbeing with mindfulness as a key element. It now plays an integral and important part in our workplace and we have seen long lasting benefits as a result.
Sean Gillgallon said: “During 2017 we will continue with our programme of training and re-visit some of the regions that we began with back in 2011 for refresher sessions. Because I am now trained to teach mindfulness, I can work with our employees in a much more flexible way and fit around their workload and location.”
He added: “Mindfulness has come a long way in the last couple of years and is now being taught in schools and universities while many businesses are realising the benefits of offering it to their employees. We are proud to be the first veterinary company to introduce it and to be referenced in this Government report. We will continue to work to ensure that as many of our staff as possible can benefit from mindfulness techniques.”
Key to its success is CVS’ ability to attract ambitious veterinary staff whilst continuing to invest in the development of their clinical skills and in research to drive the profession forward. It also provides the business support to ensure its diverse range of small animal, large animal and equine practices achieve their full potential. CVS’ guiding principles include a commitment to excellence in all aspects of its work and a focus on building long-term relationships with its customers and suppliers. The company works in close partnership with the wider veterinary profession and industry colleagues.