Caleb: 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’ll be talking about improving Animal Health and Veterinary hiring through better company culture. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.
Stacy: Hello, Caleb. As always, I’m glad to be here.
Caleb: Stacy, I know that we’ve talked before on the podcast about better Animal Health and Veterinary hiring, but I don’t believe we’ve discussed improving company culture as a means to do so.
Stacy: Yes, that’s right. We haven’t specifically addressed company culture before and how it can tie into better hiring.
Caleb: When you say “company culture,” I think about bean bag chairs and ping-pong tables. Weren’t employers promising things like that to job candidates once upon a time?
Stacy: Yes, and I’m glad you used the phrase “once upon a time,” because that is no longer the case. First, that was before the pandemic, when more people were working in the office. Now that the job market has essentially embraced a hybrid work model, bean bag chairs and ping-pong tables aren’t as useful. And they really weren’t that effective before the pandemic, anyway.
Caleb: Most veterinarians and Veterinary staff work onsite, though, isn’t that, right?
Stacy: That’s right, but these days, most Veterinary employees are so busy, they don’t have time to sit down, period, much less lounge in a bean bag chair.
Caleb: I guess you’re right! So where would you like to start today’s discussion Stacy?
Stacy: Caleb, I’d like to start by stating that today’s job candidates expect more from an organization’s company culture. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, this is a candidates’ job market, especially in the Veterinary profession, so candidates have more options and more leverage than employers do at this particular time. This means candidates can afford to be picky when exploring opportunities and selecting a new job.
Second, the members of the younger generation value different things than the generations before them, and the elements of company culture represent one of those things. And right now, Millennials and the members of Generation Z dominate the workforce, so employers must be aware of what these workers want.
Caleb: So, if it’s important to candidates, then it must also be important to employers.
Stacy: That’s exactly right.
Caleb: So, Stacy what is it specifically that today’s candidates want?
Stacy: As I mentioned, they want more. They want things that relate to their career and things that relate to their personal life. The nature of these things are also different; some are tangible and some are not.
Caleb: So which ones would you like to start with?
Stacy: Let’s start with the things that are related to a person’s career. The first thing they want are professional development opportunities. Candidates want to know that they can grow with the organization and also grow their career at the same time. They want to know there is a career path forward for them, where they can continue to grow and learn.
This is an example of something tangible that is related to their career.
Caleb: Okay, that makes sense Stacy. What else do they want that relates directly to their career?
Stacy: They want managers who are able to lead both remote and hybrid teams.
Caleb: But once again, don’t veterinarians and Veterinary staff work onsite for the most part?
Stacy: Yes, most of them do, but telemedicine and traveling veterinarians are becoming more prevalent. These are trends that have picked up a lot of momentum, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. This is also something that is tangible and that’s related to a person’s career.
Caleb: Stacy, what’s something tangible that’s related to someone’s personal life?
Stacy: An example of that would be flexible work support or a flexible schedule. It’s tangible because you can point to a person’s work schedule, and you might think that it only relates to a person’s professional life, but it actually has an impact on both their personal and professional life.
Caleb: Because when they’re at work, they’re not at home or doing other things they want to do.
Stacy: Yes, that’s right. And the more flexible the position, the more attractive it is to today’s candidates. And an organization’s attitude toward flexible work arrangements counts as part of its company culture. There are also a couple of intangible but very important things that today’s candidates want as part of their employer’s company culture.
Caleb: Which things are those, Stacy?
Stacy: The first thing is mental health and wellness. Candidates want to know that their employer cares about them, not just about their productivity or how much work they can do.
Caleb: Is it the members of the younger generations that care more about this? Or do all generations care about it?
Stacy: All generations do because it’s such an important issue, especially within the Veterinary profession. But I would also say that studies have shown the members of the younger generations make it more of a priority when it comes to their career.
Caleb: What can employers do in the area of mental health and wellness?
Stacy: They can do more than they think, and I have a couple of examples. We have a client right now who owns a Veterinary practice who has a mental health consultant on board. So, whenever someone at the practice has a need in the area of mental health, that consultant is just a phone call away.
In another example, we have a client whose team was feeling stressed out, and they had some customers who were very rude. The owner decided to close the hospital for the day, he paid all of his employees, and they had a wellness day. He brought in a food truck, they all had food in the parking lot, and they had a mental health day.
Caleb: Wow, those are great examples! I’m glad that practices are taking steps like these to address mental health and wellness in the workplace. And this is also something that affects someone’s professional and personal life.
Stacy: Yes, absolutely. Today’s candidates are reevaluating where work fits into their life overall, and they’re readjusting their priorities. They want to “work to live,” as opposed to “live to work.”
Caleb: That makes sense. Stacy, you said there were two intangible things that candidates want as part of their employer’s company culture. What’s the second thing?
Stacy: The second one is diversity and inclusion. As you probably know, this has become more of a factor over the past several years, especially with younger candidates. These candidates want to work for an organization they believe is welcoming to all people and is committed to diversity through its actions and not just its words.
Caleb: So, an employer must offer or provide all of these things if it wants to improve its Animal Health and Veterinary hiring efforts in this market?
Stacy: Yes, absolutely. If an organization wants to attract and close top candidates, then it must offer opportunities for professional development, there must be flexibility, the company must care about mental health and wellness, and it must advocate and practice diversity and inclusion. Because these are the things that are important to today’s candidates, and these are the things that will close them.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Caleb: It doesn’t? What do you mean?
Stacy: Even more is required because Animal Health and Veterinary hiring is extraordinarily difficult right now. There are many tremendous challenges and obstacles that exist for employers, and they have to overcome them all. With that in mind, I have a list of other things that employers can do to create a better company culture and then use that culture to help improve their Veterinary hiring in this job market.
Caleb: Great! Where did this list come from?
Stacy: Primarily from my experience as an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter for the past 25 years, in addition to surveys that we’ve sent to candidates and job seekers through the years.
And the first thing on this list is to encourage risk taking in the pursuit of problem solving and excellence.
Caleb: Can you elaborate on that?
Stacy: Certainly. Employees want to feel as though they have the freedom and flexibility to do their job in a way that will challenge and fulfill them.
Caleb: In other words, they don’t want to be micro-managed?
Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly right! They want to feel as though their employer trusts them to do what they think is best to accomplish both their individual goals and the organization’s goals overall. And trust is one of the major threads that runs through all of this, and we’ll talk more about that in a few minutes.
An organization must allow its employees to take risks and make mistakes in their job. That way, the employee has a sense of security, and it will help them to develop more confidence.
Caleb: Micro-managing them is not going to make them more productive.
Stacy: No, it will not. The second item on our list is to model transparency and accountability from the top down.
What this means is that people want their employers to be open and honest with them and also be accountable for their words and actions. At some organizations, officials expect this of their employees, but they do not reciprocate, which means those organizations are not an “employer of choice.” The members of management should be modeling this behavior for everyone, because that’s what leaders do. They model the type of behavior they want to see from their team and they set an example.
Caleb: Because if the members of management are not willing to do what they expect their employees to do, then why should the employees do it? At least, that’s what they would be thinking.
Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly what they would be thinking and that’s exactly what you don’t want them thinking. That’s because they immediately become a flight risk for leaving.
The next item on our list is just as important, and that’s to make sure that respect permeates all interactions within the organization. Respect comes up time and time again as an important factor for employees. I would go so far as to call it a cornerstone of company culture.
Today’s candidates expect to be treated with respect by their employer, and this includes both their manager or supervisor and their co-workers. If an organization has a culture of disrespect, then that culture is considered to be toxic. In fact, an employee doesn’t have to be disrespected directly for it to be a problem. Even if they feel respected, but they see a co-worker disrespected in some way, it will lessen their opinion of the organization and the company culture.
Caleb: It seems as though organizations have to pay attention to how they treat their employees.
Stacy: Absolutely. This is what today’s candidates and employees want, and this is what they expect in an employment situation.
The next item on our list is to NOT take yourself too seriously and DO have fun!
Caleb: Okay, does that mean now we bring out the bean bag chairs and ping pong tables?
Stacy: Not exactly. You can’t build a fun culture on what are essentially props. You build a fun culture on attitudes, atmosphere, and beliefs. Essentially, you build it on what you do and not on what you say, like the employer from my story earlier who closed their practice for the day and brought in a food truck for its employees because they were clearly getting burned out. You can have fun as an Animal Health company or Veterinary organization without installing arcade games in the break room.
And yes, an organization has to make a profit to stay in business. But employees are almost always more productive when they feel as though they’re working in a fun company culture for an employer that does not take itself too seriously.
Caleb: Stacy, you said we were going to come back to the element of trust?
Stacy: Yes, thank you for reminding me, because that’s the most important item on our list, recognizing that trust is a crucial element when it comes to building a stellar company culture.
If you want to create and maintain the very best company culture that you possibly can and improve your Animal Health and Veterinary hiring efforts, then job candidates and employees must trust your organization. And building trust in this setting is the same as building trust in any other relationship between human beings, meaning that it’s difficult to build the trust and easy to destroy it.
Caleb: So, if an organization wants to brand itself in the best way possible, it should want to brand itself as trustworthy?
Stacy: Yes, that’s right! If your employees trust you, then you can rest assured that you’ve built a positive company culture around them. Regardless of whether or not you have bean bag chairs, ping-pong tables, and arcade games.
Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish today’s episode?
Stacy: Yes, there is. Building and maintaining a great company culture is one way to improve your Animal Health and Veterinary hiring efforts. Another way is to partner with an experienced recruiter or search consultant with a track record of identifying and recruiting the best candidates in the marketplace. The two main things that you want in a recruiting firm is that they’re experienced and they’re reputable. The VET Recruiter is both. We’ve been helping Animal Health and Veterinary employers and candidates for the past 25 years.
Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about improving Animal Health and Veterinary hiring through better company culture.
Stacy:. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!
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