Managing Human Resources within the Veterinary Practice
Running and resourcing HRs is a crucial aspect of veterinary clinic management and hence gets challenging at times. No matter what the size of the organization is, whether it employs hundreds or thousands of people or more, having a proper human resource management (HRM) system is an essential practice for all businesses today. The staff of any organization including the veterinary clinics is a firm’s largest expenditure. Each member of the staff represents a substantial investment made towards the success of the firm. Thus, deployment and engagement of the veterinary human resources in a competitive environment will help decide the success or failure of the veterinary clinic.
Laying the Right Veterinary Human Resources Policies
When talking about veterinary clinics, the staff is usually well-trained and well-versed in handling and managing medical cases, but most of them have little or no experience in managing people. Thus, in such a scenario, most of the time is spent on resolving staff problems and concerns, thereby leaving less time for managing duties.
Usually, HR issues in veterinary practices are handled and managed by the owner or the hospital director. However, no matter who handles the veterinary human resource issues, having set plans and policies for all the practice areas is important. In other words, just like any other practice, resolving HR issues in veterinary practices also needs outlaying a procedure manual that defines the protocols.
The best way to ensure setting up a perfect veterinary human resources manual requires the practice owner to be a part of assembling the procedural manual for resolving veterinary HR issues. But before one moves on to writing the perfect HR manual, it is important to understand what are the common HR issues faced by a veterinary clinic.
Common HR Issues
The most common resource or employee management scenarios that all the managers must know how to handle with veterinary practices are as follows:
Chronic Absence or Unpunctuality:
Petcare is essential for the clients visiting the veterinary clinic with the objective of seeking medical assistance for their little family members. Hence, the presence of the staff is of prime importance. One of the most common issues that hamper the veterinary clinic management is the staff not turning up for the shift or arriving late. You may be having a hard-working staff, but the same staff turns out to be disadvantageous if the experts are regularly absent or fail to show up on time. Also, if you run a 24/7 emergency vet clinic, chronic absenteeism can dampen your image among your clients. Thus, chronic absenteeism should always be discussed in the HR policies as unacceptable and strong grounds for dismissal of employees. If there are repeated instances of lateness from a specific employee, they should be dealt with firmly and professionally by the management. The HR policies should lay down clear expectations with the employees so that they understand and comply with what is important. Laying down clear expectations regarding absenteeism and unpunctuality also ensures the employees to be aware of the consequences if the lateness continues to be a persisting problem. Turning up late occasionally is acceptable but it should not become a regular practice of the veterinary clinic’s medical staff. Discussing each incidence with the individuals is vital along with terminating the service period of an employee who is consistently late or absent. Doing so warns the other staff members that the policies framed are not bogus and that such a careless attitude will result in their termination.
Poor Attitude of Conduct:
Petcare as a service requires the staff to be humble and kind towards their clients’ pets. Thus, dealing with any employee who is misconducting or fails to meet the expectations is crucial. The issues of an employee not meeting expectations or not behaving in an appropriate way should be dealt with head-on and with an expectation to improve it. Furthermore, proper policies against spreading rumors and gossiping should be a part of the job description and should be made clear to the candidate at the time of hiring. The management should acknowledge the fact that a bad or negative attitude of one employee can affect the morale of other staff members. Thus, if you encounter a negative person in the work environment, meet individually with that person to discuss yours as well as other employees’ concerns. If the negative attitude or the misconduct of the employee persists, give them an offer to find a better job which meets their requirement. Always keep in mind that a poor attitude or conduct can be dealt with either formally or informally. Before invoking any disciplinary action, try to resolve the issue informally by privately talking with the staff that is adding to your concerns. When handling HR issues in veterinary practices, it is important for the management to listen to the employee’s point of view of a particular situation. If it is a performance issue, try resolving it by setting up a training and development program. If you find a valid reason to dismiss an employee, instead of being carried away by prejudice, follow due process. Take all the necessary steps to investigate and explain the allegations. Diligently follow the disciplinary policy to dismiss or terminate an employee’s service period.
Dealing with Drug Addictions:
Alcohol and drug abuse have become a common practice in today’s work environment. Drug use and abuse negatively impact the workplace and hence should be dealt with proactively with utmost care. It is difficult for veterinary human resources managers to determine the potential substance abusers during the time of conducting interviews. Hence, there should be a proper probation period in place. Furthermore, such instances are revealed to the management by other staff members who work closely with the individual employee. However, the best way to gauge the problem is to observe when a staff members’ performance and attendance are erratic. It might be difficult for the management to confront an individual with their concerns especially if the management lacks any proof to validate their point. Thus, it should always be discussed in terms of the employee’s performance as this might result in the employee admitting the truth.Controlled substances should be kept under lock and key and access to the keys should be granted to a limited number of doctors and technicians. Any abnormality in the inventory count should be thoroughly investigated. Furthermore, if you have a mobile vet clinic, ensure that the staff is not intoxicated or on drugs/ alcohol while on duty as this might take a toll on innocent lives. Always keep in mind that drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem that can cost employers money more than absenteeism and poor performance.
Importance of Stress Management
Veterinary clinic management can be both gratifying and challenging at the same time. Thus, veterinary human resources managers should be able to lead and motivate the staff to live up to their full potential. Stress management among the staff is of prime importance when talking about delivering quality medical services to the clients. Helping the staff manage their stress levels helps in keeping the staff calm and focused on their job. This, in turn, ensures that the staff is better able to handle patient’s and clients’ needs. The level of stress often increases when you are running a 24/7 emergency vet clinic. Some of the key ways in which staff at a veterinary clinic can better manage the stress are as follows:
- Keeping a positive attitude when at work and always looking on the positive side of life
- Developing appropriate time-management skills
- Identifying the true core values
- Learning to say ‘no’ whenever necessary
- Creating a balance and moderation in life
- Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing
- Embracing the change both at the professional and personal level
- Keeping your body moving by engaging in exercise and aerobic activities
Veterinary clinic management can be both challenging yet exciting at the same time. Petcare as a service requires the staff at the veterinary clinic to be kind and generous both towards the patient and the client. Whether you have a mobile vet clinic or offer a 24/7 emergency vet clinic, managing HR issues in veterinary practices are of prime importance. This is also because the workforce is the key asset at a veterinary clinic. The best way to do so is to lay down detailed policies and procedures for dealing with various HR issues. However, before you lay down these plans and policies, it is crucial to find out what issues can dampen the smooth functioning of the veterinary clinic.
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