Many practice owners and managers believe that hiring new team members is our biggest challenge in the veterinary field today. However, the true crisis is staff turnover. After all, if team members choose to stay with the hospital, there is no need to replace them.
The American Animal Hospital Association notes that a survey of 600 hospitals in the US shows an average annual team turnover of 23%. iVET360 has found that many hospitals have an average turnover closer to 50% or more before they begin working with us. Considering the average replacement cost for a non-CVM team member was at least $5000 before the pandemic, this can add up to a lot of money. Just imagine: how else could you utilize those funds?
We suggest team training. Studies like this, or this one, have shown that one of the most powerful retention tools that a company has, is employee development. There is a direct link between learning, engagement, and team retention. When a staff member stops learning on the job, their engagement plummets almost immediately. In the veterinary field, this is even more prevalent, and understandably, in highly emotional fields such as medicine, burnout tends to happen much faster.
There are three main contributors to a happy employee: work tasks, learning, and creativity. As the diagram shows, when these three contributors are in balance, the team member will be happy, even when the team is short-staffed or the clients are challenging.
Often, we see the opposite in many hospitals. Work tasks tend to fill the schedule, and learning or creative outlets are left by the wayside. This imbalance makes team members feel exhausted, angry, depressed and disengaged. This leads to burnout and resignation in the best cases or disgruntled culture destroyers in the worst cases.
The easiest way to combat burnout is to nurture continued education and add value to your team’s lives. Platforms such as LearningVet.com offer a wide array of training courses that are engaging and interactive, leading to higher levels of information retention.
Utilizing an online training platform allows you to assign training to the team and let them take the reins, taking the pressure off of you. Some platforms, such as LearningVet.com, also allow you to provide positive feedback to the team, increasing their confidence and job satisfaction. Because videos alone are typically boring or allow the employee to tune out, we highly recommend an interactive tool such as LearningVet.com, to get the highest return on your training investment dollar.
We also suggest asking your team for ideas and suggestions! Giving them the ability to implement new ideas based on what they learn gives them more control over their environment, satisfying their creativity, increasing engagement, and decreasing turnover.
As our industry continues to struggle with a shortage of employees, it’s more important than ever to help ease the heavy client load, and reduce team turnover. The best way to ensure your staff stays happy, and retain them is to provide training. It will help increase their engagement, and most importantly, reduce their tendency to look for greener pastures elsewhere. As staff expenses are typically the largest in a hospital, a small investment in their happiness is well worth the cost.