Updated: Oct 28
Over the past decade or so, employees and employers alike have begun placing a much greater emphasis on achieving work-life balance. In response, many forward-thinking companies have adopted flexible work policies, enabling workers to enjoy more harmony between their personal and professional lives.
This has left many in the veterinary industry in a bit of a conundrum, however. After all, animal clinics aren’t exactly environments in which a work-from-home policy would be a feasible option. The good news is, there are still some ways that you can offer more flexibility to your team, thereby increasing employee satisfaction and making it easier to attract, recruit and retain top talent.
One way to make your clinic a more flexible and therefore attractive work environment is to allow employees some choice in their day-to-day duties. If your staff is cross-trained, it’s not that hard to vary everyone’s schedule so that there’s some variety. Take the time to get to know your employees. Find out what areas of the practice they are most interested in and then make a concerted effort to ensure that they get to experience those areas in their daily workload.
If your staff isn’t sufficiently cross-trained, now is a great time to consider expanding your workers’ horizons by allowing them to gain new skills. For instance, you might consider allowing job shadowing. Or, you might invest a little more in education and training opportunities beyond the industry mandated continuing education requirements. Not only will this enable your team to experience new things and enjoy more on-the-job flexibility, but the more skills and knowledge they gain, the more valuable they’ll become to your practice.
Another way you can offer your staff greater flexibility is to allow some elasticity with scheduling. For instance, you might designate one day a week for each employee to come in late or leave a little early. This is easily accomplished by simply building your schedule so that the workload matches accordingly. You might also consider extending the option of things like unlimited paid time off, paid parental leave or caregiver leave. Having the option to take time off whenever personal needs must be attended to can do wonders for keeping your staff happy and engaged.
Finally, you can create a more adaptable work environment in your clinic by including your team in the scheduling process. Even if you can’t feasibly allow flexibility with arrival and departure times, sometimes just having more input and control over their schedules can be enough to keep your staff satisfied. Plus, when you employ more autonomous scheduling and empower your team to handle things like finding their own coverage for time off, management will be freed up to focus on more critical business matters.
While offering the same kind of flexibility as large corporations simply isn’t possible for veterinary clinics, it is possible to develop a strategy that works well for everyone in the practice. And since studies have shown that workplace flexibility programs can produce more satisfied and subsequently more productive employees, doing so in your clinic can be a win-win.
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