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We spend a lot of our lives at work- 1,795 hours a year, to be precise [1]

But what happens when you don’t enjoy your job? 

According to the British Veterinary Association (BVA), 39% of veterinary professionals are dissatisfied with their jobs [2]

This can have a dire impact, given that poor work satisfaction negatively impacts performance, absenteeism, and turnover [3]. One study looking at employee satisfaction found that for each 1-star increase in a company’s overall rating on Glassdoor, its market value increased by 7.9% [4].

So how can practice leadership improve satisfaction and increase their bottom lines?

How to Improve Employee Satisfaction

1. Foster a Positive Working Environment

According to research, a positive working environment is one of the biggest determinants of workplace satisfaction. 

And it’s really no wonder. Think about how much time you spend at work. Drama and toxicity can be exponentially draining, making a job that you love a living nightmare. 

Researchers have found that veterinarians’ communication skills are central to the success and smooth sailing of a veterinary practice. But what are some of the ways you can improve these ‘soft skills’ as a leader?

How to Create a Healthy Working Culture...

Healthy working cultures start with the leader (you). As a practice owner, manager, or director, your behavior sets the standard for those around you and hence plays a large role in culture. 

In our study ‘Leadership Actions and Their Effects on Veterinary Practice Culture’, we found that leaders who worked on four areas (vision, recruiting effectively, dealing with workplace toxicity, and effective time-management) had far better culture scores than those who did not. 

Check out the report's findings here...

Working on you and your team’s interpersonal skills can be highly beneficial, preventing miscommunications from occurring (a major source of workplace conflict). We offer free professional skills training here at VetX, so if you’re looking for a free resource that can help, you can get that here.

2. Pay a Competitive Wage

While most vets show up to work for the animals, not the paycheck, a fair wage is a big factor when it comes to workplace satisfaction. 

According to research, vets who receive low-end paychecks are far less satisfied in their work, and therefore more likely to look for employment elsewhere. This is increasingly becoming a problem in the current job market, which has seen record numbers of people (not just in the vet industry) resign from their jobs [5].

How to Stay Competitive in The Job Market

The obvious place to start would be to check whether the wages you are offering are competitive. Over the last twelve months, inflation rates in the US and UK (amongst others) have crept up. Alongside worker shortages, this has driven up the cost of hiring. 

If you are not in the position to offer more financial remuneration, consider looking at your practice’s reward model and whether there are any ways you can improve it. Can you offer more flexible shifts? Or perhaps introduce a profit-sharing bonus scheme? It can really make all the difference.

Disheartened And Dissatisfied: Why Your Veterinary Grad Retention Is Low

Struggling With Veterinary Retention? This Might Be Why

Do You Have a Toxic Veterinary Workplace? Here’s What You Need To Do

3. Ensure Everyone Gets Enough Downtime

Having enough vacation and leisure time is a major driver of workplace satisfaction. However, the nature of veterinary practices and their unpredictable schedules can make this difficult.

Working long hours can have a number of physical and mental consequences. 

Extended and irregular hours are associated with chronic stress and fatigue, adverse health behaviors (such as smoking and drinking) plus increased cardiovascular disease. Women are particularly vulnerable to developing depressive or anxious disorders.

How to Make Sure Your Team is Well Rested

The first thing you should look at is your practice’s efficiency. 

By ensuring your clinics’ processes are as streamlined as possible (i.e, effectively using technicians/nurses, scheduling wisely, and using technology to automate repetitive tasks) you can prevent wastage in the system which may cause unnecessary overtime. 

You then want to take a look at your workload. Is it manageable? If you’ve got too many clients per Full-Time Equivalent vet (FTE), you may want to consider putting in a system to ‘filter out’ low value or bad-fit clients. If recruitment is a problem (leading to poor vet-to support staff ratios) then hire temporary help and get assistance with building a more effective talent pipeline.

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    Other Factors Which Impact Workplace Satisfaction

    According to the BVA, there are several additional factors that impede workplace satisfaction, such as:

    • A lack of role models.
    • A lack of appreciation.
    • The (overt or covert) endorsement of long working hours. 
    • A lack of belonging within the team. 

    Working on all these factors, alongside those above, are sure ways to improve employee satisfaction and improve your culture this year!

    Final Thoughts

    Improving workplace satisfaction is not only great for your team, but also for your bottom line. 

    Fundamentally, one of the best things you can do to improve workplace culture is to work on your skills as a leader.

    Much of a practice’s culture is influenced by its leaders (aka you!). So if you’re looking for some fantastic tips on how to run a practice, (without the drama) we suggest checking out our webinar here. 

    Summary:

    • It is important to work on employee satisfaction in order to retain and perform optimally as a practice.
    • To improve employee retention, you need to work on three areas: workplace culture, financial rumination, and downtime.
    • Other factors which can improve employee satisfaction include: having role models, showing appreciation, having healthy work boundaries & a sense of belonging.

    References

    1-  ‘How long does the average UK employee spend at work?.’ 2 Oct. 2018, https://www.accountancyage.com/2018/10/02/how-long-does-the-average-uk-employee-spend-at-work/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2022.

    2-  ‘Understanding the importance of vets’ day-to-day work experiences.’ 1 Nov. 2018, https://www.bva.co.uk/media/2990/motivation-satisfaction-and-retention-bva-workforce-report-nov-2018-1.pdf. Accessed 7 Jan. 2022.

    3-  ‘Factors related to work and life satisfaction of veterinary practitioners ….’ 26 Sept. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5623335/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2022.

    4-  ‘6 Studies Showing Satisfied Employees Drive Business Results.’ 6 Dec. 2017, https://www.glassdoor.com/research/satisfied-employees-drive-business-results/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2022.

    5-  ‘No end in sight for the Great Resignation; workers keep quitting for ….’ 6 Jan. 2022, https://www.computerworld.com/article/3646390/no-end-in-sight-for-the-great-resignation-workers-keep-quitting-for-better-pay-benefits.html. Accessed 7 Jan. 2022.

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