Keep Your Team Together

April 2023 |

Losing just one employee can cost you more than may realize.

If you have a staff-retention problem, it may be time to regroup and evaluate your retention strategies.

The mean staff turnover rate in veterinary practices is 21%, twice the rate of comparable industries, according to an American Animal Hospital Association Compensation & Benefits survey.

What does a 21% turnover rate cost a practice in a single year? The Center for American Progress found that the cost of replacing a single employee is about one-fifth of the employee’s annual salary. Based on this estimate, if your practice turned over 10 employees whose average salary was $26,000, then replacing them cost you approximately $52,000.

Why They Leave
Why do veterinary team members leave? The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America surveyed their members to find out. Answers ranged from low pay to compassion fatigue to lack of recognition and career advancement.

These same technicians said that their biggest challenges in today’s veterinary workplaces are:

  • Office dynamics and communication (40%)
  • Client non-compliance (39%)
  • Lack of resources (11%)

Commit to Collaboration
Improving office dynamics and communication will lead to a more collaborative workplace, the top priority of Millennial employees. Look for training resources that are delivered digitally in short bursts of learning for maximum impact. 

To create a strong, positive workplace culture, be sure you have:

  • A written mission and vision for the practice that the entire team understands and strives for each day
  • Clear behavior expectations for your team 
  • Respectful, open communication

A Better World
Another key challenge is client non-compliance, which can leave veterinary team members discouraged. The very nature of a veterinary hospital—with a mission to serve and care for clients and their pets—helps makes the world a better place, another top priority of Millennials. However, if clients are non-compliant, employees may feel they are failing.

Provide strong training and support to your younger employees, so they will be equipped to make recommendations with confidence and clarity. As compliance improves, these employees will experience professional growth and job satisfaction. For example, consider Fear Free℠ training and certification to help alleviate patient stress and improve compliance.

Making Change
Remember that leaders set the tone of a workplace. If you express humility, you will have the best chance at making successful changes that will help keep your best employees on board.

Put Millennial Values to Work

The Cassandra Report, which tracks generational behavior, found these key values among Millennials:

  • A collaborative (rather than competitive) workplace (88%). Focus on a team approach to patient and client care, encouraging employees from different areas of the hospital to work together to assure that clients and patients receive the best care possible.
  • A boss who serves as a mentor or coach (79%). Evaluate your leadership style. A great resource is the book Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, by Paul Marciano.
  • Flexible work schedules (74%). Consider four-day workweeks with longer shifts, or job sharing so that your pool of potential employees becomes larger.
  • Making the world a better place (64%). Raise awareness of everything your hospital does to give back to the community through charitable pet care. Incorporate recycling and environmental stewardship into your practice’s protocols.

Source: The Cassandra Report