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Employee Retention Ideas and Strategies for Veterinary Practices

Employee Retention Ideas and Strategies for Veterinary Practices

Employee retention and staff turnover are significant problems and challenges for many veterinary practices. And there’s no end in sight.

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The current competitive job market is suppressing practice growth, new service offerings, and in some cases, even expansion plans. It is also a burden on patients and other staff and is very costly.

When even one employee resigns, it can have a domino effect on the practice, often leading to an increased workload for the rest of the team, a potential decline in morale/culture, and ultimately a decrease in practice performance.


Many practices have already implemented some combination of the following strategies:

  • Professional development opportunities
  • Career advancement opportunities, when possible
  • Employee appreciation and recognition
  • Heart-led management practices
  • Fair and competitive compensation and benefits
  • Employee wellness and work-life balance
  • Be as flexible as possible
  • Increased focus on culture

Recently, another trend is gaining popularity – the implementation of retention bonuses. Some practices have provided a combination of a nominal year-end bonus and hourly wage/salary increases each year.

The challenge with high hourly wage/salary increases is they are cumulative and compound from year to year. Once you give an employee a raise, you can’t take it back the following year.

Retention bonuses can increase employee appreciation, improve retention, and provide flexibility from year to year.

Here are some factors to consider when implementing retention bonuses:

  • The amount needs to be significant enough to be appreciated, give employees an additional incentive to stay and not look elsewhere, and potentially improve retention.
  • Once the first retention bonus is announced, you should provide a timeline and expectation for receiving the next bonus. For example, if you give a bonus today, you could disclose that the next round will occur in four months and then four months after that. You should always have the next round in place to keep the incentive in place.
  • Be clear with communication. Explain from the heart why you are giving out these bonuses. Show genuine appreciation that you couldn’t do it without them and that you want them to be a part of your team for as long as possible. Also, be clear that the retention bonuses will mirror future changes in the job market. They should not be expected to continue for the indefinite future, just until the next job market cycle.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this enormous issue. But hopefully, by implementing a retention bonus program in conjunction with the other strategies mentioned, you can attract/retain more of your top talent this year and beyond.

Reach out to SVA and let’s chat about your practice needs.

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Biz Tip Topic Expert: Andy Slinger, CPA

Andy Slinger, CPA

Andy is a Principal with SVA Certified Public Accountants and focuses on the dental, veterinary and healthcare industries. He works with practices to manage their financial matters and set short and long-term goals.

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