How to fend off the great resignation

The past year has been called  the “Great Resignation.” People are quitting their jobs, often with no new ones in sight. Indeed, through October 2021, the job market has seen an average of 3.8 million workers leave monthly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How does that stack up to prior spikes in employee resignations? It beats them all. For the last six months, the number of Americans quitting their jobs has exceeded pre-pandemic highs, noted the World Economic Forum, an international nongovernmental and lobbying organization, in December 2021.

For veterinary practice owners, that means it’s time to put some forces in place to fend off your own version of the Great Resignation, which starts by understanding why workers are leaving—and why they stay.

Jobs With the Highest Quits

The rise in quits in the labor market is noticeable, but “[T]he concentration among a few sectors is eye-popping,” Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed Hiring Lab in Washington D.C. told the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), a US-based human resources membership association. “Quits are up the most in sectors where most work is in-person or relatively low pay,” added Bunker.

For veterinary practices, frontline work is the name of the game. And for veterinary technicians and customer service personnel, where compensation is often low, quitting the job may be more tempting than toughing it out .

Compensation Isn’t the Sole Driver of Job Quits

Many workers enter the veterinary medicine field because they love its mission and purpose. Formally or informally, veterinary practices are cultures of caring—for patients, for customers, for the mission, and for each other. Has Covid-19 changed that? Not necessarily.

Yes, compensation plays a part, but it isn’t the primary reason that workers quit according to Gallup, a global analytics and management advice firm. In fact, workers 18 to 24 years of age say that learning new skills is more important than retirement, sick leave, parental leave, life insurance, and vacation.

Covid has made many people—those who quit and those who don’t—reassess their priorities. What’s important? How do I want to live and work? Who do I want to be “when I grow up?” As a result, career growth has bubbled to the surface as a key driver in attracting and retaining talent, especially during a pandemic.

How to Prevent Your Practice’s Great Resignation

Companies that stand out from the rest in employee retention take action, notes Gallup. Indeed, 57% of US workers desire to update their skills. Another 48% of workers would switch jobs to do just that.

So what can veterinary practice owners and managers do, especially when the pandemic has you writing and rewriting procedures and processes almost daily? You can get back to basics—employee development.

  • Make employee wellbeing a priority. This may mean offering mental health benefits or initiating something as simple as daily conversations about personal challenges as you deal with the pandemic stress.
  • Conduct regular “stay interviews” to understand why employees stay and what might cause them to leave. Then, strengthen the former and work to alleviate the latter.
  • Offer professional growth opportunities. Ask employees what their professional goals are and then, together, identify ways to support that, be it by a special project or new skill that dovetails with their goals.

Get tips on conducting your own “stay interviews” with SHRMs interview protocol available here at shrm.org. And don’t stop with your team members—ask yourself what new skills or job duties would make your own role in the veterinary practice more fulfilling.

Looking to gain a specific skill or increase your knowledge of a specialty area? AAHA offers hundreds of RACE-approved online CE courses at aaha.org/learning. Members get free access to many courses, and nonmembers can purchase only what you need.

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