Don't Let Good Employees Quit

March 15, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

Don’t overlook job-related issues that are leading your team to defect to another practice. Instead, remedy the problems and help your practice thrive.

High turnover is a concern for many veterinary practices. The fact is that many people don’t quit their jobs because they dislike the work they do. Often, they quit because they are trying to escape a toxic situation, and often management is to blame for fostering such an environment.

Don’t let good employees walk out your practice door. If your team isn’t happy, do something about it now—before it's too late.

Reason Employees Quit: They are overworked and under-recognized.

No one likes to feel that they are being given too heavy a workload, but managers sometimes fall into a pattern of piling on tasks to team members who excel at their job. Overworked and stressed team members can’t help but convey their feelings to the clients they deal with. While it may be true that good employees can do great work, that doesn’t mean they should be given more work than others. Ultimately, these employees will begin to feel as though they are being punished for doing their job well.

Remedy: Pay attention.

It’s an awful feeling when you accomplish a task or reach a goal and your manager doesn’t pay any attention. Recognize your employees regularly for the good work they do. If you fall short here, it won’t be long until your team becomes discouraged and starts to look for a new practice. If one or more of your team members is overwhelmed by their workload, consider hiring additional employees or increasing salaries.

Likewise, when managers tell their staff that they are going to reduce an employee’s workload (or make any other promise), a lot of tension will result if that promise is not honored. Your team wants a boss who they believe to be trustworthy and honorable—someone who will follow through with their verbal commitments.

Reason Employees Quit: They are underutilized.

This is especially true for veterinary technicians, who are often undervalued, underutilized, and underpaid for the work they do. According to American Animal Hospital Association data, the turnover rate for veterinary technicians is upwards of 30%. Why? Many veterinarians are used to being responsible for the majority of clinical tasks in the practice, and it's often difficult for them to delegate these duties to their technicians.

Remedy: Deletgate higher-level tasks.

Many technicians are highly educated, with many clinical skills they can and want to use. By delegating higher-level tasks, veterinarians have more time to tend to the all-important business side of the practice.

Increasing employee compensation is not always an easy task. The fact is that while veterinary technicians provide much of the same types of care as human nurses, many practices—and the profession as a whole—have less money to give than hospitals and practices in human medicine. At the very least, find out the salaries of veterinary practices in your vicinity, and make sure your team is paid comparably well.

Reason Employees Quit: They are not given—or asked for—feedback.

Providing feedback for every member of your team—from associates to technicians to groomers, and everyone in between—is vital to keeping employees happy and engaged. While talented employees may want feedback more than less talented ones, every person you employ should be told what he or she is doing well and what needs a bit of improvement.

Likewise, your team wants to feel like they are part of making your practice as successful as it can be. They see what works and what doesn’t, and they have a great overall sense of the hospital’s environment.

Remedy: Provide feedback, and engage their creativity.

Enhancing your hospital’s environment is easier than it may seem. Back-and-forth feedback is vital to ensuring that your team is perfoming well and that your practice’s policies are fair and foster a sense of community. Everyone has goals, many of which serve to inspire people to get out of their comfort zones and push themselves, so be sure to provide regular feedback. At a minimum, offer comprehensive annual employee reviews. These reviews not only provide the employee with information about what is expected of them and whether they are performing well, but they also offer an opportunity to ensure that your team is on the same page with regard to the practice’s vision and goals.

Giving your staff the chance to provide feedback of their own also goes along way toward employee satisfaction. When you offer the opportunity to suggest changes and improvements within the practice, you give them a sense of importance and they feel part of the team. Teams that don’t have the freedom to try to make the practice better may begin to resent coming to work every day. So allow them to be creative and suggest ideas that may be implemented—and may improve the services you offer.

One way to solicit more formal feedback is through a simple employee survey, which can be accomplished for free via Questions about your staff’s overall impression of the practice, the amount of recognition they receive, whether they are compensated fairly, and whether they enjoy coming to work every day or are currently seeking employment elsewhere, can provide a great foundation for improving morale.

Another avenue for soliciting employee feedback is the exit interview. Employees who do leave the practice are often willing to be open and candid about their experiences and reasons for leaving.


Your team is the most important part of your veterinary practice. To be happy in their work, employees need consistent motivation, engagement, and challenges. If they don’t find these things in your practice, your team may decide to find another practice where they do.