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How to Avoid Burnout in Your Veterinary Team

Updated: Aug 12

One of the biggest risks those in the veterinary industry face, yet rarely talk about, is the very real possibility of burnout. In fact, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) which evaluated job stress and satisfaction, more than 35% of those surveyed were considered to be at a “high risk of burnout.”

And it’s not just vets that are at risk, either. The study revealed that burnout is something every person on the team should be concerned about, from managers and technicians to assistants and receptionists. Burnout can lead to a whole host of problems for your practice, from low morale to high turnover to client dissatisfaction and even a negative impact on profitability.

The good news is, the study also revealed that strong team effectiveness can play a significant role in reducing the risk of burnout. Here are a few additional things you can do to further improve working conditions for your staff.

Increase Engagement

According to the JAVMA researchers, “Increasing work engagement may prevent and alleviate burnout by enhancing an individual employee’s energy, vigor, and resilience.” Another important discovery was the correlation between engagement and job satisfaction levels. There are a number of ways to improve individual engagement in a veterinary clinic setting. For instance, you should:

  1. Focus on making each employee feel like an integral part of the team.

  2. Acknowledge each individual’s contributions to the big picture and their role in the practice’s success.

  3. Encourage and promote personal and professional development opportunities.

  4. Empower employees by providing access to ongoing support and guidance as well as information about organizational decisions and activities.

  5. Provide ample resources to help team members perform their jobs at a high level.

  6. Offer plenty of opportunities for career growth and development.

Develop a Better Environment

Experts believe that creating and maintaining a coordinated team environment can dramatically improve the effectiveness and engagement of your employees. In order to develop this type of environment within your practice, the JAVMA study’s authors recommend several suggestions based on their research. They are as follows:

  1. Routinely evaluate the internal communications of your clinic to ensure that every team member has access to the most current, relevant information.

  2. Provide the opportunity for team members to give suggestions aimed at improving patient care, client service and internal operations.

  3. Recognize the contributions of your employees and provide them with knowledge and career development opportunities.

Eliminate Toxicity

The less toxic your workplace environment is, the less likely your team will be to experience burnout. Toxic team environments breed a lack of respect, distrust of management and overall employee dissatisfaction, which leads to higher turnover. To eliminate this within your clinic, researchers recommend employing the following steps:

  1. Establish and maintain a zero-tolerance policy for incivility amongst employees.

  2. Facilitate information sharing to build respect and foster trust.

  3. Improve HR practices to recruit and retain a higher caliber of workers (preferably those that are best suited for your clinic’s culture).

  4. Avoid overloading employees with too much work by either increasing staff or modifying/rotating individual work duties.

  5. Identify and resolve existing conflicts amongst team members efficiently.

  6. Always ensure that every employee is treated fairly and equitably.

Employee burnout is a very real problem in businesses of every industry, and the veterinary field is no exception. By acknowledging this fact and taking proactive measures, such as the recommendations listed above, you can reduce the risk of burnout for your team and keep your practice running like a well-oiled machine.

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