Tackle Turnover Before It Takes Over

How often can you afford to spend $6,000? That’s about the minimum cost to replace just one employee (earning approximately $30,000 per year) who leaves your practice.1,2 And with an employee turnover rate of approximately 30% in the veterinary profession, that kind of expense over time can easily cut into the success of your practice.3 Turnover at your practice not only impacts your revenue, but also can add stress and frustration for you, your customers and other employees. Turnover takes a toll on those who stay, disrupts work, delays tasks and lowers morale and customer service.

Your well-trained, good team members are an asset, yet if they are not engaged, they could be among your greatest liabilities. Here are a few things you should consider to help keep those good employees, with the ultimate goal of growing them into highly engaged ones.

How Big is the Problem?

First, establish how much employee turnover is costing you. Ask yourself, “What is average or acceptable turnover at my practice? What is one turnover event really costing?” Understand how each turnover event might be hurting your practice. In addition to looking at increased expenses and lost revenues, take a look at the time and associated costs for interviewing potential candidates, onboarding, overtime and training, plus the economic impact of decreased productivity from other employees.

Why Do Employees Leave or Stay?

There could be a variety of reasons why employees choose to leave. One factor might be detachment or disengagement. An employee who is performing his or her job every day still might be disengaged or unhappy. Understanding the early signs of a disengagement is the first step to reducing the loss of good employees.

It’s equally important to know why your employees stay. Does your practice offer a great work environment? You might be surprised to learn pay is not necessarily the No. 1 reason your employees are happy and choose to stay.

Find People Who Fit

If you aren’t bringing in an employee who fits into your practice environment from the start, you might be setting yourself up for an employee who wants to leave. Employees who feel they belong to a work family share a pride of ownership. When they arrive at the practice each day, they see their name on the sign, not just the name of the organization. Understand who you are bringing in and whether he or she will fit. You are establishing greater cooperation among employees and a happy, productive staff. That creates better customer service and a better customer experience.

Examine Yourself

Finally, reflect on your own leadership. Could you or other leaders within your practice be the cause of your turnover issue? The relationship employees have with immediate supervisors is one of the top influencers of workplace engagement. Employees who are engaged in the workplace are 87% less likely to leave the company.4,5

I always challenge leaders to take a close look into the mirror and ask themselves, “How does my team see me? What would my team say is working, or not working? What suggestions do they have for what I/we could be doing better or differently?” It is important to remember that in as much as you have the power to disengage employees, you also have the power to engage and influence them. Use your power wisely. Your team has to be engaged first before they engage your customers.

Michelle Reines is a consultant and coach for PeopleFirst from Zoetis. Her diversified experience has been concentrated in both large and small business operations for more than 30 years. PeopleFirst is a service from Zoetis focused on helping owners and managers overcome common challenges, such as employee turnover, of modern agricultural and veterinary businesses. For more ways to help develop your successful team or to find a leadership course near you, contact Michelle or your local Zoetis representative. You can visit GrowPeopleFirst.com to learn more.


1. Development Dimensions International. Retaining Talent: A Benchmarking Study. Available at: http://www.ddiworld.com/DDIWorld/media/trend-research/retainingtalentabenchmarkingstudy_fullreport_ddi.pdf?ext=.pdf. Published February 2001. Accessed August 31, 2015.

2. Center for American Progress. There Are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees. Available at: http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/CostofTurnover.pdf. Published November 16, 2012. Accessed August 31, 2015.

3. American Animal Hospital Association. Compensation & Benefits. 5th ed. Lakewood, CO: AAHA Press, 2009.

4. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement. Available at: http://www.shrm.org/LegalIssues/StateandLocalResources/StateandLocalStatutesandRegulations/Documents/12-0537%202012_JobSatisfaction_FNL_online.pdf. Accessed August 31, 2015.

5. Corporate Leadership Council. Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement. Available at: http://www.usc.edu/programs/cwfl/assets/pdf/Employee%20engagement.pdf. Accessed August 31, 2015.

Michelle Reines is a leadership coach and consultant for PeopleFirst from Zoetis.

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