Quick tool: Figure your veterinary practice retention rate by department

Find the right staff members for your team and keep them engaged to achieve high retention.
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Mar 01, 2014

One of the most important and potentially costly decisions business owners and managers make is hiring and retention of employees. How do we recruit qualified people? How do we keep them engaged and productive? Do we know how our business ranks against the average length of employment of a staff member in the veterinary industry?

According to one source, staff replacement costs between $12,000 and $31,000 per employee. For lower-qualified positions, the average is 16 to 21 percent of the annual wage of the position, according to the Center for American Progress. This may seem high, but consider how much time and money you spend on ad placement, resumé review, interviewing, new-hire orientation, training, etc. Minimizing these costs means that hiring managers need to find the right fit for our practices as well as develop ways to keep staff engaged.

The first step in tackling retention is reviewing departments and job duties. Are you adequately staffed? If your average kennel attendant, for example, stays only six months, is that the result of promotions—or morale issues in that department? Do your staff members have the tools required to do their jobs properly?

Of course, avoiding the "wrong hire" is as important as keeping the "right hire." Finding qualified employees means more than just finding a warm body to do the job. In today's competitive veterinary market, finding and retaining employees who identify with your practice philosophy and culture, who want to grow in their careers and who offer the finest patient and client care is extremely important to practice success. Hire wisely, train well and communicate often. Your employees want to be a part of your team and contribute to the success of your practice. Engage them and watch your business grow.

Find the calculator here.

Art Arnaiz is hospital manager of Seattle Veterinary Specialists in Seattle. Tammi Verseman-Morrison is operations manager at the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood, Colo. Their hospitals are members of the nonprofit organization Veterinary Specialty Practice Alliance.