Member Spotlight: West Tennessee Eye
Employees are an important part of what makes a business succeed, so many practices are finding new, creative ways to boost their morale in light of the increased challenges of the past year.
That’s what led Dr. Chris Cooper, OD, and his team at West Tennessee Eye to kick things up a notch this past holiday season. To help bring some enthusiasm and joy into the office this past December, the practice went beyond their usual office Secret Santa (although that also remained a part of the festivities) and hosted several fun events each week. Events ranged from a Deck the Halls Decorating Party with breakfast served, to Hot Chocolate and Candy Cane Afternoons, Wear Your Favorite Crazy Holiday Outfit Day, and so on. The teams response was so positive that Dr. Cooper and his partner decided to extend the fun into January!
“With COVID being here and dragging on, I just feel like more than ever, now is the time to make sure my staff understand how much we care about them,” Dr. Cooper says. “I want to support them and try to keep them motivated and smiling as they go through their day.”
These fun mood boosters have been especially critical since his practice has directly been affected by COVID-19.
“In March (2020), one of our team members went into the ICU with COVID. She was just 38 years old, a young and healthy female,” Dr. Cooper explains.
“We’ve had some days where 70% of our staff are out on quarantine or home with a sick child,” Dr. Cooper says. “On days like that, just to be able to have lunch delivered is an easy way of showing my support.”
Celebrating Together… Apart
Celebrating and boosting morale is no small matter when the practice is spread between three offices.
“Because of COVID, we are siloed from other staff,” Dr. Cooper explains. “I haven’t worked with my business partner in 10 months now. There’s a team that sticks with him and a team that sticks with me. So we’re never in the same facility at the same.”
Staff at West Tennessee Eye include five technicians, three opticians, eight front desk staff members, edging and insurance, a clinic operations manager and a practice manager. Keeping ourselves in two separate teams has its advantages, he says. “We’re able to work without the risk of the entire company having to go out on quarantine.”
Encouraging Staff to Get Involved
The idea to host weeks of fun events started when one of his employees asked for an Ugly Holiday Sweater Day. “And I thought, ‘Oh, what a great idea, what else could we do?’ so that helped build momentum,” Dr. Cooper explains. “With staff lunches, we just carried out the theme with little snowflake stickers that go on top of the containers that say, ‘Thank you so much.’”
“Another thing we did was set up a big snowy backdrop wall. Each person made a snowflake to add to the backdrop and put a word of encouragement on it that started with the first letter of their name,” he adds.
“Trying to get staff involved has been key,” Dr. Cooper says, “because one, I can’t do it all myself. And two, I’m not as creative as many of my team members are.”