Episode #199 | The Normalcy Bias and Your Animal Health Career or Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #199 | The Normalcy Bias and Your Animal Health Career or Veterinary Career
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health Executive Recruiter and Veterinary 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 companies 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 the normalcy bias and your Animal Health or Veterinary career. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you.

Julea: Stacy, tell us why you chose this topic for today’s podcast episode.

Stacy: Julea, there are a couple of reasons why I wanted to address this topic today. First, success in a person’s Animal Health career or Veterinary career starts in a person’s brain and in their mind. How they approach their employment situation and their career and what they think about it has a big impact on how successful they are.

Second, the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of complexity to how professionals approach their employment situation and their career, which is something we’ve addressed in recent podcast episodes. The normalcy bias is part of all this, and I wanted to talk about it because people may not realize how much it can affect them and how they think about their situation.

Julea: That makes sense, Stacy. Where would you like to start today?

Stacy: I want to start by looking at the definition of the normalcy bias and what it means before discussing how it affects people and the decisions, they make about their animal health career or veterinary career. The definition of the normalcy bias, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

The normalcy bias is a cognitive bias which leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects. The normalcy bias causes many people to not adequately prepare for natural disasters, pandemics, and calamities caused by human error. About 70% of people reportedly display normalcy bias during a disaster.

Julea: Well, this certainly has meaning in today’s world, doesn’t it, with the pandemic? In fact, the word “pandemics” is used in this definition!

Stacy: It does! But despite that fact, I want to point out another, less apocalyptic application.

Julea: Oh? What’s that?

Stacy: It’s important to note that the normalcy bias has different degrees. In other words, a person could be suffering from it, for lack of a better term, even if there isn’t a specific threat warning or catastrophe present or even looming. And one of those degrees involves a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career.

One of the degrees of the normalcy bias that people often prescribe to is the belief that the circumstances surrounding their life are going to continue as they are right now for the foreseeable future, if not for the rest of their life. They could prescribe to this degree of the normalcy bias with any aspect of their life. It could be with a relationship. It could be with where they live. Or it could deal with their professional life, including their employment situation.

Julea: I imagine that you’ve seen evidence of this degree of the normalcy bias during your career as a recruiter?

Stacy: I have, and I’ve seen it many times. Specifically, I’ve seen people not want to move forward in the interest of growing their Animal Health career or Veterinary career because they believed—consciously or subconsciously—that the current conditions of their professional life were going to continue exactly as they were for the foreseeable future.

Julea: Stacy, we’ve talked about the fear of change and the comfort zone in recent podcast episodes. Are those at play in terms of the normalcy bias?

Stacy: Absolutely. I’ve seen professionals dismiss other employment opportunities, ones that could have given them the chance to improve their current situation. The normalcy bias has even more of an effect on a person if that person is also “comfortable” with their current situation. Being comfortable is not conducive to growth. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Being comfortable and wanting to be comfortable gets in the way of growth. In other words, when you’re comfortable, your #1 priority is to remain comfortable. It’s NOT to grow.

Julea: So if a person is comfortable with their current employment situation, they’re more likely to suffer from the normalcy bias?

Stacy: Yes, and that means they’re less likely to be prepared for a change in their situation and the circumstances that surround it.

Julea: But situations and circumstances change all the time, even if you don’t want them to change. What happens then?

Stacy: You are right Julea! A problem occurs when a person is comfortable, they are experiencing the normalcy bias, and their situation changes without their consent. As you just mentioned, life is largely unpredictable, no matter how much we plan for it and no matter how much we want it to be a certain way. If there’s anything that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it has certainly taught us that.

All you have to do is think about it for a minute. How many things have happened that you did not expect and that disrupted the status quo of your existence? How many things have occurred that you didn’t know would happen and you weren’t prepared for?

Julea: A lot! Definitely more things than I had planned for, that’s for sure.

Stacy: And that is one of the problems with the normalcy bias. It’s not based on a past pattern of events. The rule is not that the current events of a person’s life will continue exactly as they are for the foreseeable future. That is the exception to the rule. In fact, it’s so much the exception to the rule that it almost never happens.

Julea: Okay, but if the normalcy bias is not based on a past pattern of events, what IS it based on?

Stacy: Well, this is where it gets interesting, because the normalcy bias is based on the psyche of the human mind.

Julea: It is? What do you mean by that?

Stacy: It is more pleasing to a person’s subconscious to believe that current conditions will continue unabated into the future, especially if the person is comfortable with those conditions.

Julea: It may be more pleasing, but it’s not a reflection of reality, is it?

Stacy: No, it’s not. It’s more of a wish than anything else. The person is hoping and wishing that current conditions stay exactly as they are into the foreseeable future. But their hoping and wishing do not make it happen.

Julea: So what can people do? How can they enjoy where they are in their Animal Health career or Veterinary career and not let the normalcy bias affect their career in a negative way?

Stacy: There are three things that I recommend. I recommend being proactive, being aware, and being prepared. And I want to make a distinction here. These recommendations apply just as much to the COVID-19 pandemic as they do to a person’s Animal Health career or Veterinary career. It’s certainly a good idea to be proactive, aware, and prepared when it comes to dealing with the virus and the pandemic. However, it’s also a good idea to be those things when it comes your current employment situation and your career.

Julea: Stacy, can you elaborate on that point?

Stacy: I sure can. We’ve talked about this before, but one of the factors involved in a person’s success is the number of options that they have. When you have more options, your chances for success increase. That’s because you can choose the option that is the best one and you don’t have to choose an option because it’s the only one you have.

Julea: So how many options you have and the quality of those options help to determine the level of success that you enjoy?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. Ideally, you want to have as many options as possible and you want as many of those options to be of the highest quality possible. And it’s important to remember that just because you have an option does not mean that you have to take the option. It’s only there for you to consider. You’re free to choose what to do with it.

First, I recommend being proactive to create options for yourself and to create those options on an ongoing basis. Second, I recommend being aware of opportunities that exist in the marketplace that could potentially help you to grow your Animal Health or Veterinary career. And third, I recommend being prepared to take advantage of an opportunity if it makes sense or if it represents the next logical step in your career growth.

Julea: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, one more thing. I certainly recognize the irony of advocating against something called the normalcy bias when the only thing just about everyone wants is for things to go back to “normal.” I understand how that could almost seem counterintuitive. I’ve addressed this before on the podcast, but the possibility that things are going back to “normal” are probably pretty slim. Not the normal we knew, at the very least.

I know that phrases such as “the new normal” and “the next normal” are being used in the media to describe current events and what’s happening in the United States and around the world. And I think those phrases are useful for the situation that we all find ourselves in. We’re in a state of nearly constant change these days. Some people might call it chaos or even unrest. Whatever you want to call it, suffering from the normalcy bias in way, shape, or form is not a good idea. Ultimately, it will not set you up for success.

So, I highly recommend shunning the normalcy bias, being proactive, being aware, and being prepared so that you can take advantage of the best opportunities and options to grow your Animal Health career or Veterinary career.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And for those people who are considering a job change, be sure to check out the current hot Animal Health jobs and Veterinary jobs posted on The VET Recruiter website.

Stacy: Yes, for those listeners who want to change their current situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite you to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. We post new Animal Health jobs and Veterinary jobs on a regular basis.

Julea: If you are an Animal Health employer or Veterinary employer, I invite you to contact Stacy through The VET Recruiter website. Stacy is an Animal Health and Veterinary Workplace Workforce expert. She can help you recruit and hire Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals. Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It has been my pleasure Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!