Good resource management in veterinary practices is crucial for the organization’s profitability, quality of care, and staff retention. When we talk about resources in veterinary practices, the most significant challenge today is human capital.
COVID-19 exposed the veterinary workforce crisis and pushed practice managers to look for better and more creative ways to recruit and retain veterinarians and veterinary technicians.
Here are five human resource management tips you can implement in your practice to keep the team you have, attract new team members, and increase efficiency.
1: Offer flexible and temporary positions
The importance of a healthy work-life balance has become a focus for the workforce, regardless of industry. The veterinary profession’s higher-than-average level of burnout has thrust this issue to the forefront and caused many veterinary professionals to seek flexible positions as a means to a more sustainable career.
Gone are the days of veterinarians working 60, 70, or 80 hours per week. If you want to attract and retain top talent, offer flexible schedules, temporary positions, or part-time work. Mention your flexibility in your job ads, and, when you sit down to interview a candidate, ask them: What kind of a schedule are you looking for? Don’t make promises you can’t keep, but do keep an open mind about how shifts can be covered in your practice.
2: Leverage technology for staff scheduling
Find a balance between having staff coverage at all times and giving your employees time to rest and recharge. As a veterinary practice manager, you can use technology to develop a shift scheduling plan. With the help of different tools and apps, you can streamline and automate rotating staff without ever fearing for coverage. Did one of your veterinary technicians cancel on you at the last-minute? With a good shift scheduling tool, you can quickly find a replacement.
3: Provide ongoing training and education
One of the best ways to improve staff efficiency is to provide ongoing training and education. Investing in your staff and growing their knowledge and skills will pay off.
“A great way to fight the staff shortage is to up-skill and re-skill current staff members.”
Set a healthy budget for continuing education, and ensure every new team member receives adequate mentorship. Along with flexible schedules, mentorship is a top benefit associate veterinarians are looking for when job hunting, so offer a formal mentorship program, or outsource it to a veterinary mentorship company, to all of your new-hires to improve staff satisfaction and retention.
A great way to make the most of the team you have is to train them in multiple areas of your practice. If your customer service representatives and veterinary assistants or kennel staff are cross-trained, you’ll be less likely to struggle when someone calls in sick or takes a vacation.
As a practice manager, it’s your job to analyze the potential of your staff versus their actual day-to-day tasks. If you see that a staff member has unused strengths and skills, think of up-skilling or re-skilling them to fit the position you need. You’d be surprised at how many of your employees step up to the challenge.
4: Offer higher compensation
A 2022 survey of more than 900 veterinary technicians, veterinarians, and practice managers revealed that low wages was the number one reason technicians were leaving the field. And, the survey respondents agreed that a veterinary technician within one to three years out of school should make nearly $25 an hour.
But, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for a veterinary technician in 2021 was $36,850, or $17.72 an hour.
Many studies have shown that happier employees are more efficient employees. Paying your team what they’re worth —and making them feel valued — will pay off for your practice.
5: Use tools to improve efficiency (and experiences)
The cost of staff turnover in veterinary medicine is high. One way to keep your team around is to make their jobs easier and more enjoyable — not by decreasing their workload or giving them a longer lunch break (yes…they should be getting a lunch break), but by using technology and other business tools to improve efficiency.
When you implement technology that allows your clients to order a prescription refill or request an appointment without calling your practice, you greatly improve the experiences of your front desk team (as well as your clients!).
Ensure your practice equipment and tools are up-to-date and working for your team. Regularly ask for feedback about the tools you’re using — what does your team like? What do they wish would change? What’s the feedback they’re hearing from clients? Are there easier ways to do the tasks your team is doing every day?
With staff shortages, efficient workflows are more important than ever before. Lean on technology to increase your team’s efficiency and improve client experiences. Check out how Vetsource’s pet healthcare business solutions can help.