Updated: Apr 15
Ask any practice manager or owner what their biggest staffing issue is, and you’ll undoubtedly hear the word “turnover.” It’s difficult (not to mention disheartening) to go through the painstaking task of recruiting and training talent only to have them jump ship, leaving you back at square one again and again. If your practice seems to have become revolving door of candidates, here are a few ideas for getting your good team members to stay on for the long haul.
Shape Up Your Culture
Your culture is basically the sum of your goals, shared values and operational policies, all of which make your practice unique. Employees spend a good amount of their waking hours at work. As such, culture that makes them feel comfortable and at home is key. If your culture needs an overhaul (or if you don’t have a defined culture to speak of at all), it could be contributing to your turnover rate. As a leader, it’s your job to make culture a priority. Be honest with yourself and make changes wherever necessary.
Boost Employee Engagement
How committed and tuned in are your employees? If they don’t seem to buy in to your culture and overall practice goals or they’re starting to burn out, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose them altogether. Conversely, the more engaged employees are, the more loyal they become. Engaged employees also tend to hold themselves more accountable. So, not only does engagement help with retention, but a highly engaged team will help to maximize productivity and profitability. To boost engagement, set expectations, be transparent, provide support and reward your team regularly.
Empower Your Team
Empowerment may seem like an overused buzzword, but it’s something that is seriously underutilized in the veterinary industry. Many practice owners or practice managers have difficulty letting go of control, which leads to micromanagement and ultimately drives good employees into the waiting arms of competitors. Your staff is capable and competent. Show them you trust them by allowing them some independence and autonomy. Make yourself available for support and guidance, but give them the freedom to make and act on their own decisions. They will pay you back with tremendous loyalty.
Motivate Your Employees
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic, which is motivation that comes from within; and extrinsic, which is motivation that is driven by external factors. Ideally, you want to assemble a team of highly skilled individuals who are self-motivated to always perform at their best, regardless of external circumstances. Even if you do, however, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The truth is, even the most self-driven person can use a push from time to time. Don’t just expect your team to be their best all the time. Give them reason to by recognizing them for a job well-done.
Give Feedback on the Regular
When is the last time you told your employees how they were doing? If your answer was at their annual review, you’re probably at least partly to blame for your turnover rate. This is especially the case if you have any millennials on your staff, as this generation is notorious for their desire to receive regular feedback. Observe and comment on staff performance whenever the opportunity to do so arises and save your yearly reviews to set goals for the coming year. And remember – feedback shouldn’t always be negative. It’s ok to coach and correct, but don’t forget to celebrate the positives as well.
According to the Society for Professional Human Resources, the estimated money lost (per person) due to employee turnover is equivalent to roughly 1.5x that person’s annual salary. That means if you lose a full time vet tech who makes $15 an hour, it could end up costing you $46,800 to replace that one single employee. If your turnover rate is higher, that loss will add up quickly.
By assessing the potential issues that exist within your practice and making the necessary adjustments, such as the five suggestions listed above, you should be able to whittle that number down – hopefully until you reach zero!
Looking for more practice management tips, tricks and professional advice? Be sure to follow our blog and check back often for fresh content.