Here are 7 questions that employees ask themselves each day that they are evaluating their satisfaction in the their job and how they feel about their employer:

  1. Do you know me?
  2. Do you understand what is important to me?
  3. What can you do to help develop my skills?
  4. When do you think I am worth a raise?
  5. Do you care about what I think?
  6. Can you appreciate my effort?
  7. Am I respected?

Here are 7 essential elements that when established as core elements in the practice will dramatically enhance employee retention and loyalty:

  1. Pay a competitive wage – Money is never the only reason an employee will leave their position but this factor is rated among the top of the list as one of the common complaints by dissatisfied employees. The strongest strategy is to pay a competitive wage; this removes wages from being a chronic nagging concern.Communicate proactively and be open with your team members about their wage, how it is determined; share your expectations and encourage their feedback.
  2. Fair and Effective Management – “Your employee quits a manager – not the clinic”. One of the most critical pieces to employee loyalty is who that employee reports to in the clinic and that person’s talent as a manager. Most often people will quite because of poorly-skilled, incompetent managers. Management perceptions versus what employees value can typically vary.Employees need regular, consistent and meaningful performance reviews from their managers. Use these reviews as a tool to strengthen the employee-manager relationship. Performance reviews should never be the opportunity to discuss a long list of grievances but a summary of the employees’ activities which should be collaboration and an alignment with the practice.
  3. Benefits – In many respects benefits like pay must be in alignment with the going standard and maintain a competitive equilibrium. In today’s veterinary clinics with low staff turnover health insurance with dental options are quickly becoming a standard. Create a comprehensive benefits package and put the practice in the upper echelon of a positive work environment that can nurture job satisfaction and employee allegiance with paid vacation, sick days, continuing education, a retirement plan and much more. Benefits can make the workplace a true community onto itself. Look for opportunities to increase the sense of community at the practice and observe the payback that emerge.
  4. Training – Regular and extensive training not only builds job contentment but opportunity for career development and increases the employee’s equity within the practice. Each year collaborate with employees to develop training goals along with a plan on how to achieve those goals and the reward associated with achievement. Nurturing a learning environment not only improves skills and knowledge, but sustains employee interest and then loyalty as well.
  5. Empowerment – Treat employees as partners by sharing goals, fostering feedback and involving them in appropriate decisions and planning. Empowerment reinforces that each employee is respected, promotes confidence, and develops a sense of inner strength and a sense of being able to act upon one’s own authority. Empowerment isn’t about letting staff do whatever they choose, it is training and providing the environment to be more self-directed, maintain great ownership of their position and constantly improve upon the processes and procedures at the face to face level with clients or team members. Empowerment and management are completely intertwined; they must be in harmony to assure a positive impact on the environment.
  6. Recognition – Recognition is paramount to staff longevity and will enable staff to bring out their skills and abilities to the fullest potential. There is a direct relationship between low recognition and high staff turnover. Provide employees with recognition for their efforts, catch them doing something right instead of just when they do something wrong. The staff must feel good about what they do and they are appreciated for their contribution. Praise accomplishments and attempts that are both small and large, in public and in private, in words and in writing and do it promptly and with sincerity. Don’t underestimate the power of saying thank you and praising staff in public, it will build greater loyalty and has been shown to enhance customer service interactions as well.
    Test out how you do in giving praise each day. Put 6 quarters in your left pocket in the morning and each time you give praise on positive employee behavior place a quarter in the right pocket. At the end of the day all of the quarters will be in the right pocket demonstrating that focus was placed upon identifying and praising accomplishments and attempts. Make a quick stop by the reception desk, the lab, the treatment area and grooming area and tell your staff any positive behaviors you have noticed, this will take only a few minutes but give you and others a lift for the day. Make this a habit and be sure to praise 3 times more than you criticize.
  7. Opportunity and Challenge – Create opportunities for the staff to develop and mature by linking their position’s goals to the goals of the practice, this is an important piece in helping employees understand how their role is essential in the success of the practice. Employees need to continue to grow their skills and feel that each day brings a new opportunity in learning and experience, this mindset helps diminish boredom and job dissatisfaction. At yearly performance reviews, set up goals that will provide challenge and the opportunity to advance their value, make a plan that will collaborate between what the employee wants and what the practice wants. It is this collaborative environment that brings passion and sustains interest in a position.

A recent study done by the Gallup organization demonstrates that employees with strong job satisfaction also have above average attitudes toward their work. The impact of employee attitudes on business outcomes; 38% higher customer satisfaction scores, 22% higher productivity and 27% higher profits.

If your interest in transforming the dangers of high turnover into great job satisfaction, the elements are clear. Combine these 7 building blocks to achieve a working environment that provides enhanced job satisfaction, reduces turnover, improves staff loyalty and offer profitable rewards to the practice.

Sheila Grosdidier, SCP
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Sheila Grosdidier, SCP, teaches human resource management tools to practice owners and managers. Check out the H.R. Boot Camp for more information.