Why do Veterinary Team Members Leave?

June 21, 2018

Because of the boss or the job? CATALYST VetPC wanted to know!


This blog is based on the results from the CATALYST VetPC June Poll. Our disclaimer is that we are by no means the end-all in polling and our numbers are small when compared to companies like Gallup (to be discussed below). 

We would like to shout out with a HUGE THANK YOU to this month’s respondents. We reached a new high in outreach and completed surveys!

When Gallup’s Chairman and CEO addressed leaders 1 (we can insert veterinary owners), he said, “Here’s something they’ll probably never teach you in business school: The single biggest decision you make in your job — bigger than all of the rest — is who you name manager.”

He went on to say that nothing you can give to the employees (compensation, benefits, etc.) can fix having the wrong person manage. However, when the right people are in place and those managers lead based on what matters, then “employees will be twice as effective, they’ll create far more customers, companies will grow, spiraling healthcare costs will decrease, and desperately needed GDP will boom like never before.”

Gallup Polls

You may have heard comments that the Gallup Poll “says this” or the Gallup Poll “says that.” This past Spring I linked the dots and now they are one of my favorite “go to sites” for employee development research (sometimes I feel like I have been living under a rock!).

Gallup Polls are created and processed by one of the largest survey companies which has been gathering data for over seventy years. The company has built a reputation on delivering relevant, timely research from around the world. They gather insights and data of employee attitudes and behaviors, shining light on topics of hiring, performance, retention and benefits (just to mention a few).


We dabble in polling in a way to engage with our readers and others within the veterinary community. We find it fun, fascinating and enlightening. It is our intention to seek answers to general team development questions and those often “controversial.” We simply want to start conversations that may be, at first, uncomfortable.

Leaving because of the Boss or the job?

This month we were curious to find out more about the idea that employees leave bad bosses/managers instead of their job. Let’s look at the Gallup Poll results and compare them (as best as possible) to the CATALYST VetPC’s poll results.

Gallup Poll Findings

  • 50% of those surveyed left a job to “get away from the manager”
  • 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers, but many bosses think that all turnover comes down to money
  • 22% list pay and benefits as the reason they walked out the door

General comments

  • Engaged employees have well-defined roles
  • Highest engagement was found in companies with 10 or fewer employees
  • Whom companies name as managers is one of the most critical decisions

Successful organizations

  • Hold managers accountable
  • Use every possible touch point to improve communications
  • Take the development of leaders and manager seriously

CATALYST VetPC Poll June 2018

  • 74% of those survey left a veterinary hospital because of the boss (48% of the time the boss is the veterinary owner, 16% corporate ownership and 12% practice manager)
  • 19% left a veterinary hospital because of a co-worker
  • 8% of respondents left the veterinary industry
  • 4% took another job for the sole purpose of better pay
  • 9% took a job with an industry partner, staying within veterinary medicine

General Comments

  • I have left a position because the veterinarian was rude on a regular basis and the management did nothing to stop the behavior
  • I left because the Relief Veterinarian insulted technicians in front of clients
  • The majority of respondents made a horizontal move to another veterinary hospital (similar position and duties without a pay increase)

Respondents felt the relationship with their boss could improve when the boss was:

  • Approachable
  • Trustworthy
  • Followed through on commitments
  • Held team members accountable

When asked, “Have you left a job for one reason, but gave a different reason for leaving?”

  • 40% were unable to truthfully explain the reason for their leaving to management
  • 48% were able to be honest in the reason for leaving
  • 2% of respondents mentioned pay as a reason for leaving
  • One person stated, “I had a practice manager who bullied me. I ended up quitting with an excuse that I was going back to school full time.”
  • Another said, “I left because I didn’t feel that the management was ethical, but I gave a medical reason for leaving.”

Over the years you may have read my reasons for veterinary team members leaving veterinary practice. Generally, I felt many team members will “hang their hat” on salary because of their inability to explain to the veterinary owners and management the real reason they are leaving (poor culture, communication and/or lack of career development). I am not convinced veterinary team members can be truthful in their reasons for leaving a veterinary hospital. Their relationships with their boss (veterinary owner, practice manager or corporate ownership) may deter them from accurately describing their frustrations with leadership and management.

If you would like to learn more about CATALYST VetPC’s poll answers to the questions posed this month, you are encouraged to reach out to us. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE we can show!

Yours in veterinary team retention,
Rebecca Rose, CVT