With unemployment at a record low, businesses in every industry – including the field of veterinary medicine – are feeling the crunch. Recruiting qualified staff has become more challenging than ever, and retaining them for the long haul is even harder. One way that clinics can compensate for the unbalanced playing field is by increasing productivity with existing staff. Easier said than done? Not necessarily – provided you follow these tips.
How much time do your existing employees waste working on repetitive, time-consuming administrative tasks? For example, patient registration, email follow-ups and client reminders. While these tasks are certainly necessary to keep the practice flowing well, they don’t necessarily have to be handled by humans. Veterinary software programs provide the ability to automate many of these mundane processes, thereby streamlining your staff’s daily schedule and maximizing efficiency.
Hire and Train Entry Level Support
Many of the daily responsibilities your team members are tasked with do not necessarily require any veterinary industry experience and could therefore easily be delegated to someone lower on the totem pole. Think things like invoicing and other administrative tasks. If your current staff is struggling to keep up with the workload, another viable option is to hire someone at an entry level and train them into the position. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well this strategy can work for your clinic – especially if productivity is lagging.
Working in the veterinary industry can be incredibly taxing, particularly from an emotional standpoint. Compassion fatigue is a very real concern and if you’re not addressing it, your clinic could suffer exponentially. Not only is providing emotional support benefits, such as paid access to mental health care, important for preventing burnout, but it can also help keep your employees happy and loyal for the long haul. Even more importantly, it’ll show your team that you genuinely care about their wellbeing.
When everyone in the clinic knows how to handle tasks beyond their own job description, the playing field becomes more level. For instance, if someone at the front desk is sick and can’t make it into work, another team member can quickly and seamlessly jump in for support. This prevents business disruption and keeps productivity at a high level. If you haven’t already, developing and implementing an ongoing cross-training program is strongly recommended.
Recognize and Reward
Another relatively simple way to increase productivity without increasing staff is to implement a rewards program. Keep in mind that this should be on top of whatever recognition strategy you currently have in place (i.e. more than just a pat on the back). Figure out what drives each team member – whether it’s a monetary reward, personal development opportunities or something else – and then create customized incentives around those motivators. You should also conduct a salary analysis every so often as well to ensure that your staff is being adequately compensated. Trust us – if you don’t, someone else will!
The tight job market doesn’t have to be frustrating if you shift your focus instead to what you already have on-hand. The five strategies above should help you maximize the efficiency and productivity of your existing staff so you can continue to operate at peak performance, regardless of what the external circumstances may otherwise dictate.