Find out what your employees really think—and take action to keep them from leaving.
Veterinary practices always need to keep a watchful eye on staff retention and turnover. It’s costly to recruit, hire and train qualified individuals, and too many new faces can directly affect the client experience. Add to that a forecast of economic uncertainty and the continuing effects of COVID-19, and you might find yourself beyond anxious at the thought of losing one more employee.
Here are ways to create a strategy for staff retention and build a desirable workplace culture that will help keep your very best team members coming to work every day.
Ask them. Want to find out your practice’s level of workplace satisfaction? Ask your employees how happy they are. Use an online survey to get honest answers and assure confidentiality. (Try surveymonkey.com or crowdsignal.com.) Limit your survey to 15 questions to encourage completion in a reasonable timeframe. Be sure to allow for comments within the context of your survey; this will give you better insight into how your employees are truly feeling.
Take action. Don’t let completed employee surveys sit on the back burner. Your team will be waiting to hear your thoughts on the results. If you are upset about their answers, the worst thing you can do is to take their comments personally, get defensive and do nothing. The key is to take immediate action and communicate well with the staff about the changes. As long as your team members know you’ve heard them and have a plan in progress, their morale will be lifted.
Aim high. Set high expectations for behavior and performance for all employees, explain those standards very clearly and then be consistent in holding everyone to them. Don’t be afraid that one or two people might quit if you hold them accountable. These are the employees who are most likely making your star performers frustrated and tempted to look elsewhere. You can’t afford to lose any exceptional employees, and you likely won’t—as long as you don’t allow others to simply “dial it in” with their attitudes and work performance.
Appreciate them. When you survey your staff, you are most likely going to find that many of your employees feel unappreciated. They work very hard, and so do you. If you’re an owner or a manager, your accolades come in the form of client appreciation and practice profitability. Your employees look to you to feel appreciated. Often owners and managers spend so much time putting out fires and juggling a multitude of responsibilities that expressing appreciation falls by the wayside.
If you want to retain your valuable employees, take time every day to observe individual team members doing good things, and tell them that they are appreciated. Be specific with your praise. Rather than making a blanket “good job” statement, use examples such as, “Thank you so much for taking the time to walk Mrs. Jones all the way to her car. I believe you really made her day with your caring attentiveness.”
In times of uncertainty, we all feel that we have less control. Staff retention is one of those areas where you might feel vulnerable. Implementing these measures to create a more positive workplace culture will help stabilize your staffing and prepare your business for any bumps in the road that may come your way.
12 Questions To Ask
How engaged is your team? Find Gallup’s 12 questions at shrm.org (Search “Q12”).