It’s almost 2019, and with a nationwide shortage of veterinary technicians in America, certified veterinary technicians should have no problems finding good jobs. But, if it’s a vet tech’s job market, why are there so many unsatisfied techs?
As a 10-year veterinary technician veteran and a current recruiter/manager for VSS, a veterinary temporary staffing agency in the Denver area, I can tell you why.
Practice managers ask me all the time: “How do you snatch up all the technicians before we even get a chance to interview them?”
We value them and create attractive opportunities for them. Here’s how you can snatch up (and keep!) a few quality technicians for your practice:
Do your homework, recruit smart, and create attractive positions
What are candidates looking for?
- Competitive salary and benefits
- Advancement opportunities
- Work/life balance
- Desirable location
- Healthy hospital culture and values
To be truly competitive in the recruitment market for veterinary technicians, hospitals must assess their local cost of living. According to the living wage calculator from MIT, a veterinary technician in the Denver-metro area with one child needs to make $26.61 per hour to support his or her family. Most technicians barely earn enough to remain above the poverty line. Evaluate what you’re paying your certified veterinary technicians, and research what a competitive and living wage is for these staff members in your area.
Candidates also compare benefits when weighing different positions. Benefits can include insurance, retirement, teambuilding, schedule flexibility, continuing education, uniform allowances, pet health care coverage, licensure reimbursement, and more.
What does your practice offer? How can you stand out among other practices and become an employer of choice? Sell your selling points!
Our company gives technicians the flexibility to make their own schedules, and the freedom to never have to be “on call.” This is a huge selling point in our interviews, and we make sure that everyone knows what a benefit it truly is.
Keep your employees happy so they’ll want to stick around
According to the NAVTA 2016 Demographic Survey, more than half of veterinary technicians changed their place of employment within the first five years with each employer. I once had a practice manager jokingly ask me if I knew of any “technician factories” to help them find “robots.” I smiled, but died a little on the inside.
Of course you want to retain your employees, and employee retention begins with keeping them happy. To keep your employees happy:
- Avoid overtime — As a practice manager or owner, overtime is your enemy. It is a massive hit to your bottom line and compounds some of the problems that have created the technician shortage we’re currently facing.
- Encourage work/life balance — Like you, veterinary technicians are human beings with lives outside of work. Overworked and undervalued technicians experience burnout, compassion fatigue, and increased conflict and behavioral issues in the workplace.
- Recognize achievements — Your staff members deserve to feel rewarded, recognized, and appreciated for the wonderful work they do every day. Be specific and purposeful with your praise so your team can feel your authenticity, and be sure to reward and recognize employees often.
In the NAVTA survey, veterinary technicians reported that the biggest challenges they face at their jobs are poor office dynamics, communication struggles, and other personnel-related issues. The biggest factors that negatively affected their jobs were low salary, lack of benefits, compassion fatigue, and an unhealthy environment. By avoiding overtime, encouraging work/life balance, and recognizing the achievements and hard work of your team, you’ll be making great strides toward creating a healthy work environment and keeping your high-quality team members around for the long-term.
Take a step back and ask yourself, “How would I want to be treated if I were a veterinary technician?” Sometimes, the Golden Rule is the only rule needed.
April Willhide is an account manager for VSS, a Certified Veterinary Technician, and an army veteran. She enjoys mountain living, beekeeping, and making everyone laugh. Her professional goals include making Veterinary Medicine better for everyone and being a great leader.