Understaffed Veterinary Practices
The number of understaffed vet clinics is rising at an alarming rate. Being understaffed can cause a lot of difficulties in all aspects of any veterinary practice. What causes animal hospitals to be understaffed?
In this article, we dive deep into why vet clinics are understaffed. Keep reading to discover more!
From the Front Line: The Top 10 Reasons for Understaffed Vet Clinics
Being understaffed can cause a whole host of problems for any vet practice. For example, you can lose your current employees to burnout because they must work overtime to cover the shortage.
Burnout is dangerous as it might cause employees to start losing patience with your clients, which could cause you to risk losing clients. This section discusses the top 10 reasons for understaffed vet clinics. Let’s dig in!
Reason 1–Cost-Saving Measures
Every vet clinic owner loves it when their clinic makes profits. In this sense, they implement certain measures to ensure they achieve profitability.
For example, most vet clinics implement cost-saving measures such as having a trimmed workforce. Moreover, they also prefer to pay overtime rather than get help.
However, this strategy leads to hospital-wide burnout and compassion fatigue. In the end, it affects the animal hospital’s bottom line.
It is an open secret that stressful working environments can affect even your most committed employees. Additionally, working too much can cause increased stress in your employees’ personal lives.
Here are some essential tips you can consider to make your veterinary practice efficient and profitable:
Attract More Patients for Increased Profits
Animal hospital owners should consider attracting more patients to make more profits. This way, you wouldn’t have to overwork your employees to save on operation costs.
Reports suggest that most veterinary clinics are understaffed. As a result, they are sometimes overwhelmed and have to send some clients away. Therefore, if you can staff your practice sufficiently, you wouldn’t have to send any clients away.
In the long run, you will have happy clientele and motivated staff. This is undoubtedly the best way to deal with your clinic’s bottom line. Some tips for attracting more clients to your vet practice include:
- Reward your loyal customers with free promotional merchandise having your clinic’s logo, name, and contact.
- Have a veterinary blog where you educate and entertain clients. The blog allows you to engage new pet owners.
- Ensure your clients know the people behind your practice.
- Offer excellent customer service.
Fine Tune Your Payment Options
There is a strong connection between humans and animals. This bond usually causes emotionally charged conversations between veterinarians and pet owners, especially when finances are scarce in a life-and-death situation.
Most veterinarians agree that pets deserve some level of veterinary care. They also appreciate that it affects their clients mentally and emotionally when they can’t afford vet care.
However, veterinary medicine is a business, and animal hospitals must charge for their services. Therefore, veterinarians must come up with innovative ways to ensure their clients pay for the services they receive. That’s why you find many vet clinics with payment plans their clients can choose from.
For example, vet clinics can implement direct or upfront payment at the desk unless pet owners show proof of insurance.
But, studies have confirmed that discussing finances with clients is a stressor for veterinarians. You can use these tips to communicate finance matters with clients:
- Don’t discuss finances in a public place like the waiting room.
- Be empathetic and compassionate throughout the conversations.
- Offer clients multiple treatment options.
- Encourage your clients to go for pet insurance.
Take Advantage of Freelancers
Outsourcing some of the work to freelancers is a clever way to balance your clinic’s workload economically. Therefore, vet clinic owners should hire freelance Virtual Assistants to take care of office admin if and when needed.
Additionally, you can engage specialists occasionally to take care of certain issues, such as corrective surgeries. This ensures you satisfy your customers while not having to hire someone full-time, and you would only need their services sometimes.
The benefits of using freelancers include the following:
- It allows you to tap into unique skill sets.
- It is more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees.
- They allow you to deal with seasonal or temporary workload increases.
- They also enable you to scale your business with minimal risk.
Reason 2–Shortage of Skilled Staff/Lack of Specialists Availability
Studies have revealed that the demand for qualified veterinarians and vet techs is increasing significantly. This trend has led many animal hospitals to experience staff shortages. Specialty vet clinics are the most affected by this challenge.
For example, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, requests for vet appointments have increased by over 50% in recent years. As a result, clinics have more patients, leading current vet practitioners to work overtime to meet the need.
Luckily, there are certain measures you can take to counter the shortage of skilled staff and specialists. They include:
Refer Cases to ER
When you get a case you can’t handle at your vet clinic, it is advisable to refer it to an emergency and critical care facility near you. These facilities offer emergency veterinary services and critical care to critically ill patients.
When you work with a referral veterinarian, you allow your clients to access up-to-date veterinary medical technology and the latest procedures. Referral veterinary hospitals also have diagnostic technologies that might be too expensive for your practice.
Additionally, referring complicated cases reflects well on you, showing pet owners you appreciate comprehensive treatment. Your clients will be loyal to you, and their pets will receive the best care.
Equip ER to Assist
If you offer specialty and emergency veterinary services, please ensure you equip the facility to help. For instance, the facility should include:
- The latest laboratory and diagnostic equipment and advanced veterinary medicine technologies. This allows specialists working in an emergency animal hospital to provide specialized treatment efficiently.
- The facility should be comfortable and have enough space for pets and their families.
- It should also have recovery rooms with real-time video monitoring for pets that have undergone surgery to recover in.
- Above all, it should have specialists in pet care, including surgery, diagnostic imaging, oncology, emergency, and cardiology.
Sharing Workload Where Possible
Vet burnout usually occurs when there is a mismatch between veterinarians and their working environment. The workload mismatch happens when a vet’s workload surpasses their capacity to physically and mentally keep up.
Veterinarians can manage their workload better by learning to delegate decisions to support staff. When you give up control in some areas, it allows you to enjoy more control of your personal workload. Therefore, consider sharing workload where possible to save energy for the tasks that require your skills only.
Here is how you can share your workload:
- Out-source non-clinical tasks such as cleaning to other companies.
- Use technological innovations to automate and streamline administrative and management processes. Additionally, you can use an app to automate appointment scheduling and confirmation, virtual payments, and handle other common tasks.
- Ensure your veterinary technicians use their skills to the fullest. Don’t engage them in activities such as filing paperwork or entering medical records. This frees up their time to perform duties that leverage their skills.
- Consider hiring an outside triage or phone to deal with client calls.
Embrace Holistic Work Conditions
There is a wrong perception among some business owners that low wages and long working hours can help them be more profitable. However, this notion will hinder your vet practice from attracting qualified veterinarians to your animal hospital.
As a result, you will likely end up understaffed, especially when dealing with cases requiring specialized skills. In this regard, vet clinics’ hiring departments should change the perception of low wages and long hours. Instead, they should embrace more holistic working conditions.
A holistic working environment concerns itself with the veterinarian’s mental, emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. This means looking at your employees beyond their salaries and bonuses.
Here are some tips you can use to create a holistic working environment:
- Ensure you understand your employees personally. Get to know your employees’ feelings, thoughts, and ideas.
- See if you can help your employees find their sense of purpose.
- Please provide them with personalized initiatives and support.
- Encourage everyone in your practice to be physically fit.
Reason 3–Poor Management/Verbal Staff Abuse
Management of vet clinics is an enormous challenge. This becomes even more challenging when you are managing an understaffed practice. In our research to determine the challenges facing veterinary practitioners, we discovered they face three main management issues:
- Efficiency of operations.
- Weak workplace culture.
- Poor compensation packages.
For example, when you don’t manage the workload well, you will overwork some of your staff. This leads to burnout and affects staff performance. Many vets also complain that they have to do a lot of paperwork and management tasks which they find burdensome.
Additionally, a weak workplace culture affects staff turnover. A recent report revealed that vets and vet techs raised concerns about weak workplace cultures. The toxic environment includes verbal staff abuse. In this sense, they desire a more supportive and collaborative workplace culture.
Also, some veterinarians claim they want to deal with animals, not humans. However, owners usually prefer to listen to something other than the vets’ advice. Additionally, the plethora of websites that offer erroneous opinions on animal health does not help in this matter.
Poor compensation packages are a result of poor management. When vet practices don’t compensate their staff accordingly, they will likely leave sooner or later to seek greener pastures.
Veterinary clinic owners can embrace multiple strategies to deal with poor management and verbal staff abuse. Below are the most notable tips to start with:
Hold All Stakeholders Responsible for Their Actions
For more efficient running of a vet facility, all stakeholders must play their roles responsibly. Also, each one of them should be responsible for their actions. An entire ecosystem surrounds the pet owner, including veterinarians, retailers, animal shelters, and breeders.
In this regard, we must hold pet owners responsible for their actions. For instance, if they verbally abuse vets and vet technicians, there should be a system to take care of that.
Conversely, professionals should also carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. They should also stay away from unnecessary altercations with their clients.
In short, all stakeholders should subscribe to the notion of mutual respect. If we can achieve that, we’ll have made one step towards creating a better working environment for everyone involved.
Proper management of a vet clinic means proper scheduling of staff duties. This includes sticking to practice hours to avoid overworking your employees. Also, consider performing morning or pre-shift huddles to review everyone’s tasks.
This exercise helps you anticipate staffing challenges and allows you to arrange workarounds before patient schedules begin. Finally, ensure you involve your staff members when scheduling work to make them feel part of the team.
Here are some tips to make your scheduling more efficient:
Plan for Emergencies
It would help if you prepared for emergencies to make your operations more efficient. When a pet owner goes to an emergency animal hospital, they expect to get services, especially if the animal’s life is at stake.
If your veterinarians are on call, you must call them to the clinic. This can be inconvenient, especially in the middle of the night.
Consider having one or two people on duty to handle emergencies. This approach ensures that your operations run smoothly even when other team members are off duty.
Bite What You Can Chew!
Everyone wants to make profits, right? However, in pursuit of profits, some veterinary clinics take on more appointments than their staff can handle.
Biting more than you can chew causes veterinary overload. In fact, studies show that this overload makes veterinary practice more stressful.
As a result, many veterinarians go for greener pastures within five years of their veterinary career. Therefore, veterinary clinics should not take on more appointments than what staff can handle.
You Staff Need Some Time Off!
It is essential to plan appointments around proper breaks for staff. Don’t overlook your staff’s welfare when planning appointments for your clients. Therefore, the staff scheduling client appointments should know the veterinarian’s schedules.
For example, if your specialist is off duty on Wednesday afternoon, avoid making appointments requiring the veterinarian’s services. When you show appreciation for your staff’s welfare, their performance will improve when they are on duty. Remember, we are only human!
Education is a lifelong activity, including for animal hospital managers and owners. In this sense, managers and owners should attend courses to teach them how to run their vet practices and manage their staff more efficiently.
Luckily, technological innovations have made learning more convenient. You can learn from the best through online channels like YouTube and websites. Managers should take advantage of these resources to enhance their capacities.
Provide Industry-Relevant Solutions
You can only serve a market if you know its needs. Therefore, ensure you understand what your clients want because it affects the services you’ll offer.
For instance, if your animal hospital is within an area that needs 24-hour service, you’ll gain a competitive advantage if you offer this service. Knowledge of your client’s needs will also help you make critical decisions. For example, it will guide you on improving medications or upgrading your technology.
Note that knowledge of the client’s needs is a continuous process. You must be on the lookout for new opportunities and capitalize on them. It is also essential to stay up to date with the latest innovations and practices in the veterinary sector.
How does this help? Well, you will hire the right skills hence offering relevant services per client needs.
Management by Delegation
You can make your scheduling more efficient by delegating tasks daily during the scheduling. After looking at everyone’s schedule, it would help to delegate some tasks to ensure optimum output.
For instance, kennel workers can do more front-office duties like holding pets as the vet draws blood. This approach will allow the vet to work on more animals within a given time.
On the other hand, delegate paperwork and other management activities to free up more time for the veterinary technicians to do their thing. As mentioned earlier, they hate paperwork!
Involve Staff Members in Scheduling
Implement an open-door policy and make time to have a one-on-one session with each of your staff members. These sessions will also help you to remind your employees of your practice’s vision, values, and purpose.
Consequently, your staff buys into your vision, making their work more meaningful. Involving staff in scheduling also makes it effortless to hold them responsible for their actions.
Reason 4–Low Pay, Lack of Benefits vs. Long Hours
Have you heard of the phrase “throwing money at your problems?” Here is the thing; this strategy never works anywhere, including in vet practices. Just increasing the wages of your vets and vet technicians is not the answer!
Sufficient pay does not produce job satisfaction; instead, it creates a lack of satisfaction. To offer your staff satisfaction, vet clinics must take a more holistic approach when addressing working conditions. The clinics should also develop a compensation model that fosters teamwork rather than aggressive competition.
But creating such a model is not straightforward because you will encounter unprecedented challenges if you make a single mistake. On the other hand, if you don’t update your policies, you will swamp in the past.
How do you deal with low pay, lack of benefits, and working hours? Generally, you need to develop financial and non-financial incentives. Here are some tips to help you create a more comprehensive structure:
Increased Living Wages
This solution can only be effective if you combine it with other strategies. Nonetheless, it is a critical starting point. Ensure your employees’ salaries are competitive when you compare them to industry standards.
According to several reports, many veterinarians run away from the profession because of poor payment structures. You can curb this trend by offering better living wages for your employees. One unpopular opinion would be to discuss with their employees their expectations in terms of compensation.
Program for Work-Life Balance
Vet and vet techs suffering from exhaustion have become prevalent. Employees of veterinary clinics have to cope with working harder and longer to compensate for staff shortages. Additionally, they must perform at the highest levels despite their fatigue and ill health. This is a self-defeating strategy because the employees eventually burn out and quit.
Therefore, ensure your staff gets vacation time, including daily lunch and breaks. Time away from their vet responsibilities allows them to recharge their batteries and return to work refreshed. It would also help to consider instituting non-traditional hours to take care of staff with personal issues.
Banish Over Scheduling
To schedule your appointments efficiently, you must balance getting enough people through the door, taking care of emergencies, and keeping the waiting times low. This will help make your employees’ day smoother without lull periods and rush hours.
You can ensure scheduling efficiency by using veterinary appointment scheduling software. Additionally, you can use flow scheduling which is time-specific scheduling. This booking approach assigns clients particular time slots allowing for efficient and streamlined processing of clients.
Introduce Healthcare and Well-Being Programs
Well-being is not one-dimensional. It has multiple dimensions that touch upon every aspect of vet and vet technicians’ lives. Therefore, animal hospitals should introduce healthcare and well-being programs for their employees.
These programs should touch on the following dimensions of well-being:
- Occupational: These programs will touch on the employees’ work. Ensure your employees’ activities give them satisfaction and align with their goals, values, and lifestyle.
- Emotional: The veterinary clinic should have programs that enable them to identify and manage their employees’ full range of emotions and ensure they seek help whenever necessary.
- Intellectual: You should also have strategies that allow your employees to learn new things. Additionally, expose them to activities encouraging critical thinking and broadening their worldviews.
- Financial: Veterinary practice managers should institute programs that train their staff on proper financial management. For instance, they should learn how to manage personal finances and stick to their budgets to meet financial obligations.
- Physical: You should also have programs encouraging employees to care for their bodies. For example, please encourage them to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly.
- Social: Humans are social creatures, including veterinarians. Therefore, your vet practice should encourage employees to surround themselves with a network of support. For example, encourage them to join different associations where they can meet people with mutual interests.
- Spiritual: Animal hospitals should have programs that encourage employees to pursue their spiritual interests. This could include allocating Muslim workers a place where they can pray during their praying times.
Banish Production-Based Pay
Whether you are running an emergency animal hospital or mobile vet clinic, you need a compensation model for your employees. In the past, production-based payment models were prevalent.
However, present-day veterinarians prefer something different thanks to a considerable cultural shift in the sector. Therefore, it is important to consider these developments when planning for the future.
The factors to consider when choosing a compensation model include the following:
- The practice culture you want to develop.
- The hospital system requirements such as the ability to track individual production and your team’s capacity to learn and implement new procedures.
- Who will carry the practice’s risk in case of poor management, understaffing, or natural disasters?
While there are many compensation models you can choose from, most emphasize production—however, the modern veterinary professional values work-life balance, healthy workplace environments, and teamwork.
Therefore, your compensation model should integrate various approaches that appreciate individual and team contributions. This is a teamwork model where employees get a consistent base salary plus bonuses based on team and individual performance metrics.
Role of Veterinary Professional Associations
A united front from vet professionals to demand better pay and working conditions is another excellent strategy to curb low pay. When veterinary professionals champion their rights through associations, the relevant stakeholders take note.
For example, the associations can engage relevant government agencies to develop policies that guide vet clinic owners on salaries. Such policies will ensure no vet or vet technicians suffer at the hands of unscrupulous business persons.
Introduce and Train Freelancers
This solution will help veterinary clinics to avoid overworking their employees. Veterinary clinics can have freelancers that help reduce workloads during specific periods. It is also important to give freelancers a place in the schedule.
Besides feeling in during extra workloads, freelancers offer animal hospitals unique experiences and insights. Moreover, since freelancers work with multiple companies, they offer many connections your company can take advantage of.
On a typical day, a veterinarian has to deal with ringing telephones, displeased pet owners, biting dogs, and long working hours. All these hurdles they have to overcome make their work very stressful. Unfortunately, not all vets and vet technicians can handle the stress and hence quit.
Consequently, the vet medicine sector ends up being understaffed. Vet clinic owners must implement several measures to reduce stress levels in the work environment.
How do you deal with stress levels at the workplace? Read below some essential tips.
Proper Workload Management
We have already discussed several measures a veterinary clinic owner can take to manage staff workload. However, when it comes to stress, it would help to ensure you promote staff members to balance their work and life properly.
You can achieve this by bringing in relief or freelance workers to allow proper staff rest. Additionally, consider holding regular wellness meetings to find out how employees feel and provide ideas for coping.
The management should also identify workplace stress causes and provide fitting solutions. Additionally, they should train staff members to recognize when their colleagues are feeling stressed and offer help.
Finally, it is essential to note that a hungry man is an angry man! In this sense, talk with your employees to eat healthy meals. You can stock healthy snacks at the workplace, such as nuts, whole grains, and fruits.
Boost Staff Morale Frequently
Motivated employees perform optimally in the workplace, including veterinary professionals. How would you boost the morale of animal hospital workers?
- Serve with your coworkers outside the normal working environment to promote teamwork and enhance communication. For instance, working together on a charitable cause will enable the staff members to form a common bond.
- Offer your staff members sincere gratitude for their services. Studies have shown that giving and receiving thanks enhances self-esteem, psychological health, and job satisfaction. Also, it would help to do it in real-time, so you don’t forget.
- Veterinary clinic management can sign up for subscription snack boxes. Subscription services ensure that there is a continuous supply of in-clinic incentives. Moreover, most subscription services offer personalized snacks to ensure you don’t leave out employees with dietary restrictions.
- Vet clinics can also institute peer-to-peer recognition programs. Such programs provide a platform for accurate feedback and promote teamwork through respect and mutual recognition.
- Managers can also support continued staff education and special interests. Examples of support they provide include financial support for employees to attend conferences and pay tuition and license fees. Additionally, you can allow them to study during downtime and express interest in their pursuits.
Reason 6–Injuries on Duty
According to studies, veterinary clinic workers usually lose up to 13 days of their work to occupational nursing injuries. The top causes of physical injuries for employees in vet clinics include:
- Cat and dog bites.
- Cat scratches.
- Back injuries from lifting heavy pets.
- Scalpel blade cuts.
On the other hand, exposure to chemicals like formalin, flea rinses, X-ray developers, glutaraldehyde, and gaseous anesthetics can cause nausea, headaches, and allergies. Therefore, there is a need to find a solution to cases of occupational injuries.
How do you deal with injuries at your vet practice? Consider these suggestions:
Invest in a Mental Health Program and Therapy Sessions Where Needed
Veterinary clinic owners should invest in mental health programs to help injured workers recover quickly. When an animal attacks and injures an employee, the employer should hold their hand to ensure they are doing well physically and emotionally.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Employers in vet clinics should invest in comprehensive safety and health programs. The programs enlighten employees on hazards and infection control and enhance safe habits. It will also help the management train the employees on handling allergies and injuries.
The clinics can also provide animal handling policies and training on handling aggressive animals, including how to use muzzles. They can also ask the employees for ideas on how to make the workplace safer.
Reason 7–Lack of Pet Parent Respect
Dealing with disrespectful animal parents can be draining for veterinary clinic employees. Working in an animal hospital means you encounter angry or grief-stricken pet parents. Dealing with rude, guilty and difficult pet owners daily can take a toll on the workers’ mental health.
Studies have shown that pet parent behavior is among the leading causes of stress for vet clinic employees. As we mentioned, some cannot cope with the stressful working environment and hence quit this noble profession for something less stressful.
Fortunately, vet clinics can implement several measures to help deal with disrespectful pet parents. Some essential strategies include the following:
Educate the Public About the Importance of Veterinary Staff
Some pet parents don’t appreciate the role veterinary clinic staff play. For instance, they might think that only doctors play a crucial role in their animals’ health because they treat them.
In this sense, they might think other staff members like receptionists, cleaners, and other supporting staff don’t play any key roles. Therefore, it would help to educate pet parents on the critical roles these staff members play.
Once they understand how critical these employees are to the clinic’s operations, they will treat them better. On the flip side, you should train staff members to deal with difficult pet parents.
Encourage the Public to Invest in Pet Insurance to Cover Most Vet Costs
Vet clinics are businesses that require money to keep their operations going. However, they cannot have these funds if their clients don’t pay for the services.
All vet clinic owners will tell you their love for animals pushed them to start their businesses. As a result, they would find it challenging to balance caring for animals and ensuring they get paid for their services. For instance, an emergency animal hospital would find it tough to treat an animal requiring emergency attendance, and the parent does not have money or insurance.
To avoid such situations, vet clinics can partner with insurance animals to encourage their clients to invest in pet insurance. They can have flyers or brochures from the companies at the clinic to help educate the clients.
Send Staff to Career Days to Educate the Public
Having the staff members interact with the public away from the clinic environment is also critical. For example, staff members can attend career days and educate the public on pet clinics’ operations.
During the sessions, they can guide pet parents on handling their pets, schedule appointments, and offer other animal welfare tips. This interaction creates a good rapport between the public and clinic staff, making their interaction at the clinic smoother.
Reason 8–Toxic Work Culture
The veterinary industry is a for-profit industry handling life and death situations, making it emotionally draining. Such an environment can easily let toxicity through the door.
Additionally, industry experts claim that most veterinarians are introverts hence don’t have the capacity to manage teams. The experts argue that no one told veterinarians they’ll handle people; therefore, they need to learn how!
Besides that, staff members can bring their personal issues into the workplace, making the workplace environment toxic. Here are signs of a toxic working environment:
- Poor communication.
- Cliques in the working place.
- People feeling overworked.
So, how do you fix a toxin veterinary practice environment? Consider the following tips:
Create Health Programs and Incentivize Staff
Staff health contributes to creating a toxic working environment. In this sense, vet clinic owners must create health programs to help their staff stay healthy.
For example, a veterinary clinic can partner with health and fitness coaches who can hold some sessions at the clinic once a week. The exercises will help reenergize the staff members and double up as a brilliant bonding session.
Additionally, employers can use staff incentives to show they appreciate their staff members. When the employees see you appreciate them, they will be happier, reducing the probability of a toxic environment cropping up.
Introduce Employee Appreciation Programs
As we stated earlier, employee appreciation programs can help boost morale at the workplace. However, ensure the programs don’t promote aggressive competition and foster cooperation.
For example, the program should seek to appreciate the team first before individuals. This will encourage teams to push each other to perform better.
Give Management and Staff the Right Tools to Do Their Jobs Effectively
You must give your veterinary team the tools they need to perform their duties effectively. Some of the tools you can consider providing for your staff include:
- Software and technology to help with tasks like automated appointment reminders, online scheduling, and prescription management.
- You also need the following essential tools that ensure the staff performs effectively:
- Exam and procedure tables: Each treatment room must have a treatment table as per your clinic’s unique needs. Ensure the table offers mobility, stability, and versatility.
- Proper lighting ensures the vet can accurately repair physical damage, diagnose ailments and offer precise treatment.
- Veterinary stethoscopes: Veterinarians use specific stethoscopes for their practices. It is an essential tool that allows the vet to hear the animal’s heart and lung sounds.
- IV pumps: Nearly all veterinary clinics use IV pumps to administer drugs, fluids, and other supplements, especially during surgeries.
- Veterinary ultrasounds: Veterinarians use diagnostic imaging to examine the images inside the pet patient’s body. Such images enable them to make the correct diagnosis and speedy and efficient treatment.
- Digital x-ray imaging machines: Digital radiography and radiology allow veterinarians to get accurate images of the pet patient’s muscles, bones, and internal organs.
- Anesthesia machines: These tools will help you prevent animals from pain during injuries, treatments, and other treatment protocols.
- Veterinary practice managers should also offer their staff the necessary training to perform their duties well. They can do this indirectly by sponsoring promising talents to study specific areas that can improve their practice.
Create a Cohesive Team Environment
Most vet clinic owners prefer a cohesive, motivated and cohesive team. However, creating such a team is not a walk in the park. Creating a cohesive team environment demands continual effort and commitment from everyone involved. These efforts should include the front lines at the reception desk and the janitorial staff.
So, how do you create a cohesive team?
- You can start by building trust relationships between members of staff and management. Distrust usually destroys a team, so the administration should fight it at all costs.
- Those in leadership positions should recognize that their leadership is a role within the team, not separate. For instance, team leaders should consider other people’s wants and needs when making group goals.
- All staff members should exercise fairness. For instance, the clinic should have equal rules concerning assigning work tasks and holding people accountable.
- An open-door policy can also help you make your team more cohesive. Such an approach to management ensures management receives communication and feedback from team members.
Reason 9–Burnout/Mental, Emotional, Physical Exhaustion/Fatigue
Mental health experts describe burnout as a condition where an employee has emotional exhaustion, skepticism, and reduced professional efficacy. This condition usually results in reduced effectiveness at work.
Some common signs of burnout include:
- Body pains and fatigue.
- Change in workplace conduct, for instance, interpersonal conflict and absenteeism.
- Not accepting assistance from colleagues.
- Setting and having challenges achieving impracticable goals.
If you notice you or your colleagues are exhibiting any of these symptoms, please take action. It is not wise to leave it unchecked because it can endanger the affected person’s physical and mental health.
Here are some tips you can use to curb employee burnout:
Devise a Program With Other Practices Nearby to Reduce Costs and Supplement Income
Workload management is essential if you want to ensure your employees stay energized. In the previous sections, we covered how to manage your workload.
Apart from what we discussed in those sections, you can also create a program to partner with other nearby practices. These programs will enable your practice to reduce operation costs and supplement income.
For example, you can partner with specialty vet clinics to handle your client’s specific needs. This prevents you from hiring personnel or tools you wouldn’t frequently use in your practice.
Other strategies you can employ that we’ve already discussed include:
- Investing in a mental health program and therapy sessions where needed.
- Creating a suitable working environment.
- Proper scheduling.
Reason 10–Stagnation/No Room for Growth
One of the leading reasons employees leave their jobs or become disinterested is stagnation or a need for more room for growth. When employees feel stagnant in their careers, they can quickly become less motivated.
Consider allowing them room for growth to keep them motivated and engaged. Furthermore, you can conduct regular performance reviews and use the opportunities to inspire staff members to pursue career goals.
There are several strategies you can employ to ensure your staff members don’t feel like they have no room for growth in your practice. Here are some essential tips:
Implement Staff Training Programs to Provide Growth Opportunities
It would help to give members of your staff opportunities to advance their careers. This gives them something to fight for. You can use employee performance reviews to gain insight into your employee’s career aspirations.
This will allow you to develop a custom plan with clear-cut timelines for achieving them. After that, allow them to learn new skills, attend industry-specific conferences, engage in professional development, and practice lifelong education.
Embody a Teaching Hospital Methodology
Your hospital should be able to identify top talent from within and develop it. For instance, through staff performance reviews, you can find out support staff’s future educational endeavors that will benefit the practice in a bid to keep them.
You can offer incentives like study loans and grants to motivate them to pursue their dreams. Once they qualify, they are likely to remain loyal to your practice. With the nationwide shortage of veterinarians, you’ll have hit two birds with one, stone-developed a talent the industry needs and motivating your staff members.
Introduce Mentorship Programs
Delegate senior staff to train junior staff to take the pressure off and educate staff simultaneously. With this approach, the senior and junior staff members remain engaged and motivated as they exchange ideas. For instance, senior staff will feel you appreciate their skill and experience, while junior staff will learn on the job.
In the end, no one will feel stuck in their careers. You can encourage senior staff to keep mentoring the young ones using perks such as holidays and recognition awards. Finally, you can partner with veterinary schools to send students over during busy times. This allows them to get practical skills.
Offer Emotional Intelligence Training
Apart from training the staff members in the technical aspect of their jobs, it is also essential to train them in soft skills. For instance, vet clinics hiring veterinarians mostly look at their technical skills. While these skills are critical, the experts also need social skills because they will deal with people.
In this regard, offer your staff members emotional intelligence training. It can be through seminars and workshops where you invite experts to equip your staff members with the necessary soft skills.
It is public knowledge that the veterinary medicine sector lacks practitioners. Therefore, veterinary practices must ensure they keep their current staff as they attempt to address the issue of being understaffed.
This article has discussed ten reasons the clinics are understaffed and solutions. You can use the tips shared herein to ensure you run your operations efficiently and have better retention of staff members. Together we can make jobs at vet clinics interesting again!
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