How Veterinary Practices Can Offer Teams Flexibility
Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.
Providing employees with workplace flexibility boosts productivity and job satisfaction. Here’s how veterinary practices can accommodate their teams.
With work-life balance a hot topic for employees and recruiting departments everywhere, many businesses are rethinking the standard 9 to 5 workday. Leading the charge are companies like American Express, LivingSocial and Blinds.com, which allow team members to work flexible office hours, create their own schedules and work from home.
According to a recent Gallup survey, 53 percent of employees place a high value on work-life balance. The same survey showed that balance is even more important to female employees — an important point in a female-dominated profession like veterinary medicine.
Because of the nature of the work, most veterinary practices can’t afford to offer telecommuting opportunities on a regular basis. It’s difficult to treat patients without being in the same room, and bulky diagnostic equipment wasn’t designed for frequent travel. But this doesn’t entirely negate veterinary hospitals from offering their employees some flexibility.
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Veterinarians may not be able to allow employees to decide when and where they work, but they can provide flexibility with the work itself. Ask employees which areas of the practice interests them most and make a concerted effort to get them more involved in the parts of the job you now know they favor. This might include assigning more responsibilities related to the fields of interest, providing the opportunity for job shadowing or increasing education and training. This tactic promotes innovation and highlights the diverse skills within an organization. Another approach: Set aside certain days where employees can swap positions entirely. While knowledge and skills might limit some opportunities for job swapping, this is a great way for employees to experience new roles, gain familiarity and feel a stronger appreciation for the roles everyone plays in creating a cohesive practice.
One of the most appealing aspects of flexible work hours is accommodating the personal lives of staff. While there’s an exactness to the coverage needed throughout the day in a veterinary practice, it may be possible to offer employees more control over their schedules without sacrificing productivity. For example, many companies have incorporated digital scheduling systems that allow employees who share the same roles to swap shifts with the understanding that there are a minimum and maximum number of hours employees can work each week. This allows staff to find coverage when a personal appointment or event arises but relieves management of the pressure to accommodate everybody’s needs.
While offering the same flexibility as American Express or LivingSocial may not be feasible, it is possible to find a program that works best for everyone within a veterinary practice. In fact, studies have found that employers with established flexibility programs benefit from improved employee satisfaction and increased productivity.