Workplace Culture

Building a Positive Workplace Culture: Tips for Employee Retention in the Veterinary Industry

Sarah Rae Murray is a writer, veterinary practice receptionist and an advocate for all animals. 

The average person spends one-third of their entire life at work. It’s no wonder studies find that workplace culture is one of the biggest determinants of employee retention.

The issue of workplace culture is of particular concern in the veterinary industry where employee retention has traditionally been a challenge. In a 2016 National Association of Veterinary Technicians (US) survey looking at the problem of attrition rates in the veterinary industry, 40 percent of technicians cited office dynamics and communication as a key determinant in their decision to leave a position.

“Studies show that 79% of people who quit their position feel they’re under appreciated. That’s a big number, especially in context of the high attrition rate within the veterinary industry.”

For many veterinary clinic owners and managers, the focus has traditionally been on relationships with clients. Studies show this may be short-sighted. A clinic can’t operate at it’s best for those on the outside if it’s toxic on the inside. Fortunately, fostering a workplace culture that’s both positive and productive is easier than you think. Try out these four tips to begin building the culture you want within your clinic:

Mindful hiring:

There’s a big difference between an individual’s credentials and their personality. Envision the person you’re interviewing not only in terms of the job position but also their place within the team. Can you see it? Introduce the candidate to team members, observe how they interact, and consult with your team to gauge their first impressions. Valuing everyone’s input collectively allows a certain level of comfort and confidence in the final decision.

Show appreciation:

Studies show that 79% of people who quit their position feel they’re under appreciated. That’s a big number, especially in context of the high attrition rate within the veterinary industry. Words are powerful; praise and recognition are simple to give and make a very real impact. This type of positivity is infectious and fosters a supportive team environment that celebrates good work.

Make time to meet:

Veterinary clinics are busy. Staff meetings are often rushed or put off entirely. It’s a big mistake to brush off the importance of team meetings. They provide a valuable opportunity to collaborate on clinic processes, discuss friction or internal conflicts, and ensure the whole team hears individual voices. Implementing routine meetings strengthens the team while streamlining day-to-day operations. It’s a win for everybody.

Learn and grow together:

Continuing education is a cornerstone of veterinary professions. From online courses to large-scale veterinary conferences, there are countless ways to earn credits. Your clinic can integrate learning and team building as a part of your workplace culture. Proactively schedule lunch-and-learns of interest to the whole team, plan a trip to the next nearby conference, or look into the benefits of a wellness retreat. Investing in your team’s growth is an investment in the whole clinic.

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