Episode #245 – What Employers Might Do to Keep Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals from Leaving

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #245 - What Employers Might Do to Keep Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals from Leaving
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, 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.

Today, we will be talking about what employers might do to keep Animal Health and Veterinary professionals. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Julea: Stacy, what led to the topic for today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Good question Julea….Quite a few things, actually, starting with the current conditions in the employment marketplace. I am sure that most everyone is aware that we’re in a worker and talent shortage in this country. There are national headlines that address it just about every day. So it should come as no surprise that we’re currently in a candidate-driven market where qualified candidates are scarce, especially the top 5% to 10% of the professionals in the workforce. This is also the case in terms of top Animal Health and Veterinary professionals.

Not only does this mean that it’s difficult to hire in this current job market, but it also means that organizations are doing everything they can to make sure that they retain the services of the top employees they do have.

Julea: You are talking about  retaining top employees as employees or employee retention.

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. Employee retention is always important, but it’s even more critical during a candidate-driven job market, especially one as severe as the one we’re currently experiencing. If organizations are having difficulty hiring the Animal Health and Veterinary professionals they want to hire, they certainly don’t want to lose their top employees at the same time.

Julea: You’re right! That’s pretty much a worst-case scenario Stacy.

Stacy: It is Julea! It’s bad enough when you’re not able to hire the people you want to hire to fill your open positions and you’re able to retain your top employees. That situation is challenging enough. But to not be able to hire and not be able to retain your top employees would be a crippling situation for an organization.

Julea: So I’m guessing that some employers will go to some pretty far lengths to retain their top performers.

Stacy: Yes, that is correct, and I have a recent story that illustrates just how far some employers will go to retain top Veterinary professionals. This story is truly unique because the things that happened I have not witnessed in my 25 years as an executive recruiter.

Julea: Talk more about that Stacy.

Stacy: It goes to show how unique market conditions are right now, especially in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. Just when you think that you’ve seen it all, something happens that you’ve not witnessed before.

Our search firm was talking with a veterinarian who wanted to explore other employment opportunities. He said that he was not being fulfilled in his current role, he was not being challenged, and he wasn’t being given opportunities to grow. He wanted all of three of these things, and he thought that perhaps he could find them with a different employer.

Julea: So far, so good.

Stacy: Yes, that is right. Pretty typical. Within a short amount of time, we were able to schedule an interview for this veterinarian with one of our clients. The interview went very well for the candidate, and the company made him a fantastic offer. And this is what made it so great . . .

At the time, the candidate was earning $84K in base salary with his employer. Our client offered him a base salary of $150K, plus a sign-on bonus of $50K. That is a 79% increase in base pay, and that percentage does not even include the money from the sign-on bonus. So, when you add the bonus to the equation, the candidate stood to get $166K in extra compensation simply for accepting our client’s offer of employment!

Julea: Wow! I know we have talked about how people earn more in base salary by switching jobs on a consistent basis, but that is far more money to receive in an increase than I can imagine for one job!

Stacy: Exactly!

Julea: So, I am guessing this was a slam-dunk, that the candidate accepted the offer. No, wait . . . if that was the case, then you would not be telling this story, would you?

Stacy: That is correct. I would not. It should come as no surprise that the candidate’s current employer made a counteroffer to him.

Julea: What did the counteroffer entail Stacy?

Stacy: Remember that the employer was paying this candidate a base salary of $84K at the time he connected with our firm. So, the counteroffer that his current employer made was to raise his base salary to $140K and also offer a $40K retention bonus to stay with the organization.

Julea: But that is still less than what your client was willing to pay.

Stacy: Yes, it was. In fact, it was $20K less with the base salary and the bonus combined. And think about this. Not only was the employer not able to match the candidate’s offer from my client, but it was all but admitting that it was severely underpaying the candidate for the value he brought to the organization.

Julea: Yes, they were all but admitting that they could have been paying him this much all along or that they believed he was worth this much, but they just decided not to do it.

Stacy: Yes, but the organization did more than just make him a counteroffer that was less than the offer that my client made to him.

Julea: What else did the company do?

Stacy: While the candidate was considering the counteroffer, officials at his current employer told him that if he decided to leave, they would have to lay off everybody remaining at the Veterinary clinic.

Julea: What? Seriously?

Stacy: Yes, they really did say that. They said they would lay everyone off and close the doors of the clinic. But we haven’t even reached the really surprising part of the story?

Julea: We haven’t.

Stacy: No, because my client indicated that it would be willing to hire everyone else from the other clinic if the candidate accepted its offer of employment. In addition, my client also told the candidate that he would have his choice hospitals, since the client has multiple hospitals.

Julea: Wow, your client definitely wanted the candidate to feel wanted.

Stacy: Yes, they did. They did pretty much everything they could possibly do.

Julea: But it wasn’t enough, was it?

Stacy: The candidate still had not made up his mind, and then a family member told him that leaving his current employer was a risky move. Risky even though the candidate was going to be paid $20K more for making that move. And what that family member said must have had an impact on the candidate, because he ultimately decided to accept his current employer’s counteroffer and turn down my client’s offer.

Julea: That’s actually pretty unbelievable. First, he accepted the counteroffer even though the money was $20K less than what he would have received. And then—correct me if I’m wrong—he stayed at a job that he said was not fulfilling and not challenging.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. It’s why he was working with our firm in the first place. He described his current job as stagnant, unfulfilling, and not challenging. Despite all of that, decided to stay in that job with that employer for substantially less money than he could have received elsewhere.

Julea: So, as the title of today’s podcast episode indicated, this is what employers might do to keep Animal Health and Veterinary professionals from leaving.

Stacy: That’s right. As this story illustrates, it would appear as though organizations will go to great lengths to retain their talent, although in this case, they didn’t go as far as to match the candidate’s initial offer.

However, in analyzing this situation, I want to address some of the unanswered questions that are associated with it.

Julea: What kind of questions are those?

Stacy: Well, there are a number of questions that the candidate could have asked of their current employer. The most obvious one being, “Why are you telling me this?” after they claimed that if he accepted another offer and left, they would have to lay everyone off and close the clinic.

Julea: Yes, I guess that would be an obvious question to ask.

Stacy: I have some other obvious questions, too. Three of them are related to the counteroffer itself, outside of any extenuating circumstances.

Question #1:

“Why are you just now increasing my base salary and offering to give me a bonus after I turned in my notice?”

Question #2:

“Have I been worth this much to the organization all along and you’ve been deliberately underpaying me for the value that I provide?”

Question #3:

“If I had not given my notice, would you have continued to underpay me for my value?”

Julea: Those are all fair questions to be sure, and the candidate would be well within their rights to ask them. I would be interested to know how company officials at his employer would have answered those questions. I can see how they could make someone uncomfortable.

Stacy: Absolutely. They are fair questions considering the circumstances and they certainly could make a person uncomfortable. But these are the tough questions that Animal Health and Veterinary professionals must ask in situations such as these.

I also have another set of three questions that this candidate could have asked of his current employer.

Julea: These questions don’t relate directly to the counteroffer itself?

Stacy: No, these questions are more related to the fact that the candidate’s current employer told him that if he accepted my client’s offer, they would have to lay everyone else off and then close the doors of the clinic.

Julea: I can understand why saying something like that would lead to some questions.

Stacy: Yes, and there are those questions . . .

Question #1:

“How has this hospital reached the point where the departure of one employee will lead to the downfall of the entire organization?”

Question #2:

“Does this mean that the hospital has been on a downward trajectory, and if so, how long has this been the case?”

Question #3:

“Does this mean I can never leave this company, because if I do, the hospital will shut down and everyone will lose their jobs? Or is just this one time that the hospital will shut down and everyone will lose their jobs?”

Julea: Wow, those questions are even more direct than the first three. Once again, though, these are fair questions to ask.

Stacy: They are, but the candidate in this story did not ask those questions. Instead, he decided to accept the counteroffer and stay with his current employer, despite all of the red flags that presented themselves during the course of this journey.

In terms of the big picture, though, this story is about more than just a counteroffer and the fact that a candidate decided to accept the counteroffer. It shows what employers are willing to do in order to keep Veterinary professionals from leaving their organization to work for another employer.

Julea: Stacy, after listening to this story, it seems to be that employers might be getting a little desperate. Would that be accurate to say?

Stacy: I think that is accurate in certain instances. I would say that there are certainly some employers in the marketplace that are desperate for top Animal Health and Veterinary professionals. That means they’re desperate to hire that talent for their open positions and they’re also desperate to keep the talent that they already have. There’s a saying that goes, “Desperate people do desperate things,” and the same applies to organizations. Employers that are desperate for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals will do desperate things to obtain and to keep that talent.

I think the story that we discussed today illustrates that perfectly.

Julea: Stacy, one final question as we wrap up today’s podcast episode. In light of everything that we’ve talked about today, what’s your advice, both for professionals and also for employers?

Stacy: Yes. In fact, I have a couple of points for both professionals and employers.

For professionals, if you explore other job opportunities and are made an offer of employment for a job that is clearly better than the one you have, then you must be prepared to contend with a counteroffer from your current employer. In addition, if you accept an offer of employment from another organization and give your word that you will start work for that organization, then you must be prepared to honor your commitment. Not only are you keeping your word to the organization, but you are also keeping your word to yourself, too. After all, if you’re leaving a job that is unfulfilling for one that is clearly better, than you’re not doing yourself any favors by staying with your current employer.

And I have a couple of points to make on the employer side, too.

First, you must be prepared to do what is necessary to retain your best employees, and by that, I mean outside of a counteroffer. You should not be reduced to making a last-gasp offer to retain an employee after they’ve given their notice. Second, when you make an offer of employment to a candidate, make sure that offer is the best one that you can make. When it comes to making offers, the rule of thumb is simple: make your best offer to your top candidate.

In this current job market, if you don’t make your best offer to your top candidate, then more than likely, you will not be able to hire them.

Julea: Stacy, thank you for all of this great information and insight from the front lines of the job market about what employers might do to keep Animal Health and Veterinary professionals from leaving. This is valuable information for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals and employers alike!

As a reminder, for more information about The VET Recruiter and the services that it provides to both Animal Health and Veterinary professionals and employers, we invite everyone listening to visit www.thevetrecruiter.com. Once again, Stacy, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It’s been my pleasure, Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of the “Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider”!