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Improving staff retention

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Dec 01, 2005

I'm having trouble with staff turnover. I train and reward employees, but they aren't sticking around. Any ideas?

"Conduct a no-holds-barred exit interview with staff members before they leave," says Dr. Mark Rick, a senior associate veterinarian at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center Inc. in Los Olivos, Calif. "There are always reasons someone leaves and seeks another job. Sure, sometimes it's not related to your practice, for example, the employee wants to relocate, work closer to home, or retire. But for those other people, find out why they're leaving so you can try to fix the problems."

Dr. Rick says you may be surprised at the feedback you receive. What you thought was fair compensation and adequate training may actually be falling short of the target.

"Another route would be to consult a practitioner with a similar business model and see how his or her pay schedule and training compare with yours," he says. "You may even be able to ask those employees why they stay. It could be that a $1-an-hour raise, more time off, flexible working hours, healthcare coverage, attractive retirement package, positive work environment, or a combination of relatively simple things could reverse the exodus."

Dr. Rick also recommends conducting semi-annual evaluations to catch problems earlier. "When you ask employees what they think, don't let your feelings get hurt and don't immediately defend your actions," he says. "Think about what the person's saying and how those observations could affect your turnover. The energy you spend finding solutions to your staff turnover problems will be worth the reward."