Employee Handbooks Improve Team Retention

January 7, 2020

Does your veterinary practice have an Employee Handbook?

Challenges in veterinary team turnover may be alleviated by the use of an Employee Handbook, resulting in an increase in team retention. You may already have a tool within reach in order to decrease turnover (15% is the national average where a 29% turnover may be seen in veterinary hospitals).

Why have an Employee Handbook?

It provides guidelines and direction to employees so they can succeed in their career and stay longer at your practice.

An Employee Handbook is a great tool when reviewed annually, used for new employee orientation and routinely updated with team members. A Handbook will help identify expectations, training and professionalism. Handbooks sitting on the shelf, accumulating dust, are doing no good. Handbooks are living documents that benefit the veterinary owner, business and employee.

Benefits include:

  • Clearly communicates policies to the employee
  • Saves time by having one place for all the information
  • Establishes expectations
  • Ensures company treats employees fairly and consistently
  • Provides legal documentation
  • Carefully considers policies designed with managers, supervisors and veterinarians
  • Prevents misunderstandings

Your employees want to belong to something bigger and better than themselves. They want to know why the clinic exists (mission) and the direction the leaders want to take (vision). Employee Handbooks have a clearly written history, acknowledge the owners for their contributions to the business and community, while welcoming incoming team members.

Federal and State Laws that directly impact veterinary practices are outlined in the document.

Laws include, although not limited to:

  • Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • At-Will Employment
  • Right to Know
  • State Drug and Alcohol Testing Laws
  • Meal and Break times defined
  • State Laws on Access to Personnel Records

Your team members want accountability and for you to hold others accountable to the same standards. I often hear lack of team accountability as a number one frustration among team members.

Following is a small list of things that may lead to disciplinary actions:

  • While on hospital property, being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs (discussion of legalize marijuana is a HOT TOPIC!)
  • Disregarding safety regulations
  • Unexcused absenteeism or tardiness
  • Inability to follow through with duties

While reviewing the Handbook, mention the use of an exit interview and both verbal and written warnings. Be sure managers are properly expressing expectations in job descriptions and teams are receiving training in their chosen area of expertise.

Remember, Employee Handbooks benefit both the employer and employee. It is a win/win situation. Utilize the updated handbook at time of hire, when there is a disruption in policies or blatant misunderstanding, or at a time of employee unrest.  Consider a breakfast meeting to annually review the employee handbook from cover to cover. Make sure employees sign off that they have read the information and that they understand the confidentiality policy. The signed documents are kept in their personnel files along with other paperwork.

This is a brief overview of what to include in an Employee Handbook. CATALYST VetPC is available to help you review your current Handbook or create a customized, comprehensive new one. Teams that are treated fairly, properly trained, supported in giving and receiving feedback and have a policy for team grievances may experience less turnover.

An Employee Handbook is a valuable, useful tool. Team retention may improve when there is a guidebook to help in defining expectations of employment, outlining training and accountability.

Yours in veterinary team retention,

Rebecca Rose, CVT






Want help in creating or updating your Employee Handbook? Drop us a line! 

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