Why veterinary practice staff morale matters more than ever and 3 ways to boost it

9 min read

If you could only focus on one aspect of your veterinary practice, what would that be? Would you focus on patient care? That’s why you got into this business, after all. Would you focus on client satisfaction, because without clients, you wouldn’t actually be in practice? Or would you focus on revenue, because at the end of the day you’ve got bills to pay? Fortunately, you don’t have to choose, and a good thing, too, because all of the above are essential to your success. However, none matter more than your practice staff morale.

With unemployment in the U.S. lower than it’s been in more than a decade and a half, finding good people, particularly doctors, is no easy task. I recently heard about a clinic that’s had a veterinarian position open for two years, with no bites; not because the practice is picky, but because there simply aren’t enough qualified doctors to go around. The notion that ‘everyone’s replaceable’ no longer stands. [bctt tweet=”You can’t afford to lose good people. Now, more than ever, you need to treat your staff like gold”] because without them you won’t be able to deliver patient care or ensure client satisfaction, both of which are essential if you want to run a financially successful practice.

What can you do to keep your veterinary practice staff morale high?

As the founder of WMPB, I’ve spent years examining the criteria behind the best managed practices in the country. For our 2017 Well-Managed Practices® Benchmarks Study, we asked practice owners and associates to look at a list of 12 criteria and tell us which they deemed most important to their workplace satisfaction. Below are the top three concerns that came to light. Working backwards:

Employee benefits rank #3 in importance.

Millennial employees brainstorming in the workplace

According to the 2017 Employee Benefits Report published by the Society for Human Resource Management: “Nearly one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months … to remain competitive in the talent marketplace.”

To leverage your benefits as a means of increasing staff satisfaction, you need to understand what your employees value. Given that healthcare has been in a constant state of flux for the last few years, health insurance is a given, but a good benefit package doesn’t begin and end there. Paid leave, retirement savings, travel perks, learning opportunities – there are numerous ways to enhance your offering. To find out what matters to your employees, consider conducting an employee survey.

A flexible schedule ranks #2 in increasing practice staff morale.

Millennial employees brainstorming in the workplace

Whether it’s to accommodate school drop-offs, make time for errands and appointments, or create better work-life balance in the interest of less stress, employees value flexibility with respect to their schedules. In an industry such as ours, it isn’t always easy to accommodate individual needs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

By offering your employees flexibility, you’ll increase their sense of job satisfaction. They’ll also feel more autonomous and trusted, which is sure to lead to greater loyalty, and ultimately that’s what you’re after. So ask yourself – how flexible is your practice now and what steps can you take towards improvement? And keep in mind that without change, there is no progress. Just because you’ve worked 10 hours a day, six days a week for the past 10 years doesn’t mean you should expect the same from your employees.

Competitive wages rank #1 among veterinary practice professionals.

Millennial employees brainstorming in the workplace

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that employees ranked competitive pay as their number one on-the-job concern. What may come as a surprise, though, is that you can afford to pay your people more – without compromising your profit. Yes, that’s right, and no, I didn’t sneak into your practice and take a look at your books!

From our 2017 WMPB survey questionnaire, we learned that most practices genuinely want to pay their staff more. [bctt tweet=”The WMPB report presents not just one but three ways you can increase the hourly rate of your non-doctor staff by $3 without hurting your bottom line.”] Imagine what a difference that would make to practice staff morale.

well managed practice benchmarks book gives tips on increasing practice staff morale I’ve just touched on three of the 12 workplace satisfaction criteria that we explored in this year’s WMPB report. For insight into the remaining nine, plus three ways to give your employees the salary increase you know they deserve, stop by the WMPB store to pick up a copy of this insight-packed report.


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