Job-hopping is inevitable, but letting it disrupt your practice is optional
It’s no secret that veterinary medicine is facing a shortage of qualified professionals. To make matters worse, more individuals are becoming job-hoppers, switching jobs frequently in search of better opportunities. This requires veterinary practices to work even harder to maintain their teams.
Job-hopping is driven by factors including demographic shifts, increased demand for workers, and rising salary expectations, especially among millennials and Generation Z. A survey conducted by Lattice revealed that nearly 60% of employees who were in their current job for less than 6 months were already looking to move on.1
1. Poor boundaries: Veterinary teams struggle with boundaries. With demand being higher than ever, there’s only so much you can do about the workload, but it’s vital to support your team in creating healthy boundaries and managing stress.
2. Inadequate mentorship and support: Many veterinarians leave their jobs because of insufficient mentorship. A good working atmosphere, strong professional relationships, and career guidance can greatly improve retention.
3. Insufficient pay and benefits: Pay is not the No. 1 factor in employee retention—culture has a much bigger impact.2 However, no matter how great your practice is, new employees will continue looking for other opportunities if your compensation is too low. Assuming you’re offering wages that are consistent with the skill level and knowledge of the employee, it’s OK to have a lower starting salary for untrained paraprofessionals who can increase their pay as they learn.
4. Lack of career opportunities: Many practice owners are so involved in every decision that employees perceive little opportunity for growth. It’s vital to provide a path to increased responsibilities and career advancement for every role.
5. Inflexible schedules: It’s tough to make a schedule work around employees’ family and personal commitments, but this is an expectation of many younger employees. Flexibility can improve job satisfaction.
Although job-hopping can occur with any role, I have seen this most frequently with younger veterinary technicians, assistants, and administrative staff. In these roles, job-hopping can jeopardize the efficiency of care and disrupt daily routines.
The best way to defeat job-hopping is to improve the culture of your practice.
A positive work environment encourages collaboration, helps staff feel valued, and promotes ownership and responsibility.
Many individuals applying for entry-level roles have no experience but want to find out whether veterinary medicine is a good fit for them. If you’re investing a lot in training that employee, it’s legitimate to start them at a lower wage; however, their wages should increase as they gain more experience. Some additional strategies include the following:
It’s also important to accept that there will inevitably be higher turnover in certain roles and to invest in strategies to reduce the impact.
Practice owners can’t eliminate job-hopping, but we can take proactive steps to reduce the impact. Understanding and addressing the contributing factors will make your practice stronger and help you deliver better patient care for your community.
Michele Drake, DVM, CVA, is the owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas, California, a 10-doctor, 55-employee hospital that consistently outperforms competitors and industry averages because of Drake’s passion for embracing change and new technologies. She has served on committees and advisory boards for the University of California, American Animal Hospital Association, Novartis, and more. Drake completed her DVM at the University of Missouri and founded The Drake Center in 1992. She also serves as the chief veterinary officer for GeniusVets. Michele can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.