Episode #162 – Veterinary Practice Management: Why and When Employees Quit

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #162 - Veterinary Practice Management: Why and When Employees Quit
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter and veterinarian 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 episode, we’ll be talking about Veterinary practice management, specifically why and when employees quit their job. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Julea: Stacy, why is this such an important topic?

Stacy: Julea, I’m glad you asked.  I just returned from Las Vegas where I spoke about this topic at the Western Veterinary Conference. I spoke with veterinary practice owners, and managers on the subject of retention. There might have been 200 people there because they were so interested in this topic. It’s an important topic to discuss because we’re currently in a candidate-driven job market. Top talent is in short supply. We have talked about that a number of times on the Animal Health Employment Insider podcast. Not only that, but many organizations, especially veterinary practices are also experiencing retention problems. In other words, they’re having trouble retaining their employees, who are leaving for other employment opportunities. When an organization loses a top employee, it’s difficult for them to replace that employee. So, it makes sense that we should talk about the reasons why an animal health or veterinary professional would leave their employer in the first place, especially in terms of Veterinary practice management.

Julea: Is that so employers can get a better idea of why people leave?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. And what employers need to understand is that professionals will leave their current job even if they like their current job.

Julea: They will? Why is that Stacy?

Stacy: Absolutely. A person not enjoying their job is not the only reason why they would leave it. People leave their job for all sorts of reasons, and for some of them, it’s not just one reason, but a combination of reasons.

Julea: Stacy, how much of a role does money and benefits play?

Stacy: Money and benefits do play a role, but not as much of a role as you might think, especially with top candidates. Remember that when we talk about the best candidates in the marketplace, we’re talking about the top 5% to 10% of candidates. These people know they can command top dollar for the value they provide to employers, so they’re not worried as much about money. They are probably already being paid at a premium because they are highly regarded employees. They also want all of the other things that go along with a great employment situation.

This means that even if you’re paying your top employees what they’re worth, you can still lose them if you don’t pay attention to the other reasons they might leave.

Julea: What reasons are those Stacy?

Stacy: The first reason is too much work or too much stress, especially over an extended period of time. Top employees are usually hard workers who don’t mind working hard. However, it’s when they’re asked to do a LOT more work and they’re consistently asked to do it for a long time that it becomes a problem.

Julea: Stacy, is it true that employers tend to overwork their best employees because they trust those employees?

Stacy: Yes, this can be true and it’s rather ironic, isn’t it? An employer trusts certain employees, but it shows that trust by giving those employees more work at times. If it goes on for too long, then that show of trust will force the employees to think about working somewhere else.  Other times the employer could be short handed.  I recently spoke with a veterinarian who was working in a three-doctor practice. Two doctors left so he was working alone as one doctor in a three doctor practice. He was talking with me about looking for other employment opportunities because he was overworked and didn’t have the help of other doctors.

The second reason an employee might leave is a lack of perceived respect. This is one that some employers overlook.

Julea: What are some ways that an organization can show that it respects its employees?

Stacy: One way is to solicit their opinions and listen to their input. Another way is to make time and spend time with them, both formally and informally. Another way—and this might be the most important way—is to make sure that everyone within the organization is treated equally and fairly. Employees do not like to see other people receiving preferential treatment.

Julea: Are you saying that professionals are placing a high priority on being respected by their boss and their employer?

Stacy: That’s exactly what I’m saying. People want to work for an ethical organization that treats its employees with respect. And it’s not enough for management to think that they’re treating their employees with respect. The employees themselves have to feel as though they’re being respected. What they think and what they believe matter the most, not what management thinks. If there’s a disconnect between the two groups of people, then valued employees will start to leave. And if there’s one thing that Animal Health and Veterinary organizations do not want right now, it’s for their top employees to leave because of something that’s lacking in the workplace.

Julea: That makes sense. What’s another reason?

Stacy: Another reason that employees leave is because there is no evident career path for them at the organization. Top employees want to know that they’re “going somewhere.” They want to feel as though they can grow with the organization in some capacity or another. If these employees don’t feel satisfied or feel as though they could be satisfied in the future, then they’ll start thinking about leaving.

The fourth reason on our list is a lack of recognition. Even though top employees are intrinsically motivated, they still crave recognition. They want to know that their work is appreciated. People leave their job when they don’t care about the work they do or their employer. That’s why you must show them that YOU care—about them, their work, and the value they provide for the organization. If you don’t care, then why should they?

And keep in mind that the situation is made worse if they feel their employer or boss is overworking them.

Julea: It seems like a lot of these reasons have to do with the management part of Veterinary practice management.

Stacy: That’s true, and our next reason also has to do with management! And that reason is weak leadership with no vision. Strong employees want to follow strong leaders. They want someone to inspire them to achieve great things, both for the organization and also for their career. Once again, these employees want to know and feel that they’re working toward something.

In terms of Veterinary practice management, leaders must have a strong and clear vision for the future. Then they must communicate that vision to their employees. Ideally, every employee should know what role they fill within that vision and how they contribute to it. If they don’t know what role they fill or they doubt that they’re contributing to it, then they’re more likely to leave.

And that leads us to our last reason, which is the most important one.

Julea: What would that be?

Stacy: A lack of trust. Trust is a huge factor in the workplace, and it’s tied directly to all of the items on our list. Furthermore, trust is crucial for top employees. If they don’t trust their employer with not only their job, but also with their career, it increases the likelihood they won’t stay.

Julea: Can you elaborate on this Stacy?

Stacy: Yes, of course Julea. If an employee sees what they believe to be unethical behavior, they will cease to trust their employer. This could be unethical behavior with customers, or it could be behavior between employees or between a manager and an employee. For a lot of professionals these days, especially those who are members of the Millennial Generation, core values are extremely important. Being ethical is definitely among the core values of many professionals.

Julea: Stacy, we’ve talked about the phrase “People don’t quit their job, they quit their boss.” Do you think that’s accurate, given what we’ve discussed so far today?

Stacy: Yes, I do. As you can see, a lot of the reasons that people quit are directly related to an organization’s management or leadership team. An organization that has a strong management team and leadership team will be more successful in terms of retaining its employees. So a person’s boss has a lot to do with whether or not they enjoy their job or if they’re going to leave it.

Julea: So now that we’ve discussed the reasons why an employee would leave, how can you tell if an employee is thinking about leaving or about to leave?

Stacy: There are a number of ways. The first one is a noticeable decline in performance, especially if it’s a high performer. If an employee is a top employee, their performance doesn’t just start to suffer for no reason. Now, it’s true that it could be a personal issue. The person could be going through something in their personal life that affects their performance.

Julea: But they could also be positioning themselves for an exit, is that right?

Stacy: That’s right. If they know they’re going to be leaving, then they could be putting forth less effort in their current job in anticipation of their new position. And there are two other signs that go along with this one and are similar to it.

Julea: Which signs are those?

Stacy: The first one is a decline in the employee’s participation during meetings. If they’re usually outgoing and always full of ideas and all of a sudden they’re quiet and they don’t contribute much, that could be a sign. Actually, a lack of communication and interaction overall is also a sign. If an employee is usually very talkative and outgoing, but then they aren’t, that could be a red flag. This is another symptom of a person who is trying to isolate themselves from everyone in general.

Julea: It sounds like it’s similar to someone who’s about to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Stacy: Yes, ending a professional relationship is somewhat similar to ending a romantic relationship in many ways, especially if one of the people involved in the relationship knows that it’s is going to end and the other person does not.

Julea: So basically, someone who is avoiding interaction with others and is shying away from their co-workers might be someone who is thinking about leaving or is about to leave?

Stacy: Yes, that includes avoiding big projects or long-term projects.

Julea: Is that because the person doesn’t think they’re going to be around when the project ends?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct.

Julea: What are some other signs that an employee is about to leave for another opportunity?

Stacy: Another sign is if the person appears to have less interest in their personal development with the organization. This means the development of their skills, including both technical skills and soft skills. It doesn’t mean, of course, that the person is no longer interested in personal development at all. They’re just not interested in pursuing development with their current employer. They’ve made the decision to pursue their development with another employer, and that’s the major distinction.

Julea: Stacy, what about if the employee is absent a lot or if they take a lot of personal time? I’ve heard before that’s a way to determine if an employee is about to quit. Is that the case?

Stacy: Yes, and this is one sign that many people think of first. It’s important to note, once again, that a combination of all the signs that we’ve discussed today is the strongest indicator that a person is about to leave an employer. For example, if frequent absences is the only sign and everything else about the person is pretty much the same, then it might not mean they’re going to leave. However, if you notice one or two other signs AND there are also frequent absences, then that is a stronger indication the person is thinking about leaving or has already taken steps in that direction.

Julea: Stacy, I believe that we’ve discussed this before, but you have a certification in this area, retaining employees? Is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, I have a couple certifications, actually. I’m a Certified Personnel Consultant or CPC, and I’m also a Certified Employee Retention Specialist or CERS. There are currently about 10 search professionals in the US who are currently certified as a Certified Employee Retention Specialist. We had to take a course, pass an exam and keep up continuing education for this certification. We also had to read a book on employee retention.

Julea: Why did you decide to pursue that certification?

Stacy: I firmly believe that finding and retaining employees is the top concern in today’s marketplace, especially in terms of Veterinary practice management. As I mentioned, this is especially the case since we’re in a candidate-driven job market. This certification helps our firm to help our clients become better at retaining their employees in order for them to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. And that’s what our firm, The VET Recruiter, does for our clients. It helps to give them a competitive advantage over other employers.

Julea: And Stacy, I know we’ve been talking about Veterinary practice management today, but this information also applies to Animal Health organizations, as well, is that right?

Stacy: That is absolutely correct! These are the same reasons that an Animal Health professional would leave their current employer in search of other opportunities.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information about Veterinary practice management and why and when employees quit.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Julea, and thank you. Once again, it’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode!

Julea: That’s all for today’s show. For Stacy Pursell and everyone at The VET Recruiter, thank for your listening and we invite you to join us next time when we address more employment issues in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. We hope that you’ll join us then!

Stacy:  Yes, we look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider when we talk about employment topics in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. Meanwhile be sure to check out our hot jobs on The VET Recruiter website at www.thevetrecruiter.com