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4 Tips for Veterinary Team Retention

June 25, 2018

Keep Your Current Team

Veterinary Team Retention is good for the veterinary hospital, client satisfaction and patient care. That seems to be a winning combination. We know turnover within the veterinary community is higher than other industries but for now, let’s focus on keeping the team members you currently have!

Here are just 4 tips (out of many) to consider.

Keep your team engaged, growing and satisfied.

1) Establish Career Goals

Your team members may not see their time with you as a way to grow their careers. To them, there is a Glass Ceiling and it is relatively low.

However, by finding ways to advance their skills and utilize their talents, they will not only become greater assets to the veterinary hospital but will also increase their retention.

As examples, say you have a veterinary assistant who does an exceptional job in the exam rooms and outpatient care. Help her identify ways she can take on more responsibilities in that area, possibly by overseeing the creation and stocking of puppy / kitten kits. Or maybe support her in setting a goal of sending home literature on heartworm prevention and/or parasite control with each dog owner.

Maybe another team member has a knack for creative endeavors. Encourage her to design a monthly bulletin board in the reception area.

These are goals that can be identified and tracked for a given period of time, say a year. Then the following year, build on the successes and generate the next level of duties and tasks. The point is, work directly with each team member in identifying passions and talents, then elaborate around these areas.

These goals can be linked with performance reviews and include routine “check-ins” and monitoring for success.

When team members have career goals and are supported in their development, they are more satisfied, leading to higher veterinary team retention.

2) Implement Training Programs

Often new hires are thrown “to the wolves” without proper orientation or support (including new veterinarians), creating a sense of abandonment and lack of direction. You may have team members who have been on your team for a number of years and are natural teachers. Embrace those skills sets, define a training program, and set everyone up for success!

Consider the many ways your team can create internal training classes of their own. How about asking your seasoned veterinary technicians to offer a 30-minute presentation at each of the monthly team meetings? They choose a topic, compile a handout, create the presentation and enlighten the other team members on the topic. Certainly, a win/win situation!

3) Encourage and Support Membership in Organized Medicine

Each state has a Veterinary Medical Association (VMA), many states have a technician association, and more and more manager groups are popping up around the United States.  In my experience, having been on state and national boards, networking and conversations with colleagues is informative and worthwhile.

Team members that become active, engaged members within their professional organizations tend to take on more leadership roles within the veterinary hospital. That’s something to encourage and support! Yet another win/win situation!

4) Design Your Culture through Core Values

Is your culture created by design or default?  Your team may already embrace your mission, but have you identified team values?  As a group, review the mission and vision statements (are they still relevant and embraced by the team on a daily basis?). Then help your team identify the core values. By doing these exercises together, it builds unity and buy-in.

When the hospital’s values are intentionally and clearly stated, the culture may transition into a more cohesive, thoughtful, respectful and professional atmosphere.

While there are a number of reasons people will leave veterinary hospitals, lack of career advancement, training, professional development and core values shouldn’t be on the list.  Consider your turnover rate within your veterinary hospital and evaluate ways to support your current employees. Determine how you can build a cohesive team with higher veterinary team retention.

Here’s to team retention,
Rebecca Rose, CVT