Episode #112 – 3 Simple Steps for Achieving a Better Workforce This Year (and Every Year)

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about how Animal Health and Veterinary employers can achieve a better workforce. Hello, Stacy, and that you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here with you.

Samantha: Stacy, this is a particularly timely podcast episode, since the end of the year is almost here. I imagine there are plenty of employers looking to assemble a better workforce in the New Year.

Stacy: That’s right. And the end of the year is typically when people reassess and revaluate things, and that includes within the professional realm. The truth of the matter, though, is that they should reassess and revaluate all of the time, all throughout the year, and not just at one certain time. However, it’s human nature not to do that.

Another thing that’s human nature is making things more difficult than they have to be. That also includes within the professional realm, specifically when it comes to workforce management. Now, there are a lot of different aspects of workforce management. However, the area that we’ll be focusing on today is the quality of the workforce. Specifically, I’ll be addressing the continuous improvement of that quality. And this underscores a basic rule of the employment marketplace.

Samantha: What’s that, Stacy?

Stacy: Basically, the best team wins. Talent wins. If an Animal Health or Veterinary employer wants to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace and consistently beat its competition, then it must have great employees. It’s true that technology has impacted the workplace and the employment marketplace in many ways, but it all comes down to people. An employer must have the right people in the right roles doing the right things. When that’s the case, the employer will be more productive, and ultimately, more profitable.

Samantha: Do you think some employers forget that?

Stacy: I do. I think sometimes employers underestimate the importance of top talent, and that attitude can hurt them in the long run. You can’t have a great team unless you have great players, to use a sports analogy. And the only way to make sure you always have a great team is to make sure you always have great players.

Samantha: Taking my cue from the title of today’s podcast, what is the first step for achieving a better workforce?

Stacy: The first step could surprise some of our listeners, because they might think the first step is hiring top candidates. That’s not the case, though. The first step is retaining your best employees.

Samantha: Retaining them, as in making sure they don’t go to work for someone else?

Stacy: That’s right. But there’s quite a bit involved with this. That’s because you must identify your best employees first. And then, once you’ve done that, you have to ask a series of questions.

Those questions include:

  • What kind of relationship do you have with these employees?
  • What do you know about their goals, both with the organization and for their career?
  • Are these employees engaged with your organization or are they not?
  • Are they at risk for leaving your organization for another opportunity?

One of the biggest mistakes an employer can make is taking its best employees for granted. You must show these employees that you appreciate them. Unfortunately, some organizations focus too much energy on addressing other needs. Then, when these employees leave for another opportunity, it’s already too late.

Samantha: Is one of the problems with retaining employees that employers just aren’t proactive enough?

Stacy: Yes, that is definitely one of the problems, and effective retention requires that an employer is proactive as opposed to reactive. If you’re reactive, as we just pointed out, then it’s already too late. As an employer, you’re reacting to one of your best employees giving their notice because they’ve accepted an offer with another organization. However, when that same employer is proactive about retaining their best employees, then hopefully those employees will not want to leave in the first place.

Samantha: So Stacy, is hiring top talent the second step?

Stacy: Actually, it is not! Once again, this could surprise some of our listeners, but the second step is replacing underperforming employees.

Samantha: That is a bit of a surprise, but I guess it makes sense when you think about it.

Stacy: This is a step that some people, especially those in management, have some difficulty with. That’s because it’s tough to let people go. I agree that it’s not easy, but we’re talking about the difference between a mediocre workforce and a great one. Employees have to provide value to their employer, and ideally, they should provide a high level of value. If not, then why is the organization keeping them employed?

Samantha: But Stacy, isn’t it difficult to find qualified candidates in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession these days?

Stacy: It is true that the marketplace is challenging for employers right now. However, keeping an under-performing employee can have a negative impact on an organization’s business. Just like in our first step, though, an employer must identify which employees are not performing to expectations and which ones should be considered for termination. Once again, this is not easy, but it must be done if organizations want to reach their true workforce potential.

Not only that, but it also opens up the way to our third step.

Samantha: Which is to hire top talent!

Stacy: That’s right, hire top talent. But first, I want to make an important distinction.

Samantha: What’s that?

Stacy: You don’t just hire high-quality candidates, especially in a candidates’ job market with the type of challenges for employers that we just mentioned a moment ago. First, you have to identify them. Second, you must recruit them. Third, you must keep them engaged throughout the hiring process. And fourth, you must make an offer that compels them to want to work for your organization. So it’s not as simple as just hiring them. There’s a lot that goes into it.

Samantha: And many of these Animal Health and Veterinary professionals aren’t even looking for a new job, are they?

Stacy: They are not. They’re passive candidates. They’ll only be interested in an opportunity if it is clearly better than what they have right now. And when I say clearly, I mean beyond a shadow of a doubt better. They’re not going to be interested in anything that’s even close to being a lateral move. And if you’re an employer and you’ve let some underperforming employees go, then you’re in a positon where you need to replace them. And if you’re going to replace them, then you certainly want to do so with the best candidates in the marketplace. You want to upgrade your workforce. That’s how you improve its quality on an ongoing basis.

Samantha: And of course, an Animal Health recruiter or Veterinary recruiter can help in this situation.

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. An experienced executive recruiter or search consultant has the knowledge and expertise necessary to identify top talent for the critical needs of organizations. As I said at the beginning of today’s podcast episode, there is a lot that goes into effective workforce management. Hiring top talent is just one of the steps. There are many more, and a good search consultant can provide value beyond just sourcing candidates. They can provide advice and guidance to organizations that help those organizations build and maintain a high-quality workforce.

Samantha: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Thanks so much for joining us today and providing all of this great information.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Samantha, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health Employment Insider!