Across virtually every sector, staff burnout is at an all-time high. It’s approaching a breaking point in veterinary medicine. Independent practitioners are under a lot of pressure to keep employees during a hectic period — or risk losing competent successors during “the great resignation.” Is your veterinary business working to make it a great place to work? If not, you may want to shift your focus to caring for the people that keep the lights on.

Practices that want to keep moving forward and growing need to address burnout among their staff. After all, you can’t achieve growth goals without a happy, committed team delivering a positive patient experience.

Front-desk personnel has been bearing the brunt of many pandemic-related issues in recent years: COVID-19 guidelines, screening questionnaires, appointment scheduling, and responding to patients’ calls and emails during busy, short-staffed shifts. It’s a lot. Maintaining your staff’s burnout at bay is critical. That necessitates detecting indications of burnout and taking steps to avoid or minimize it at your veterinary practice.

How to diagnose employee burnout.

Keeping an open line of communication will ensure you can have a baseline of your employee’s good and bad days. From there, you’ll know when something is not going well with one or more individuals. Look out for these signs of burnout:

  • Uninterested in the workplace culture
  • Loss of interest in and excitement for their work
  • A decrease in productivity
  • Making more mistakes and forgetting things more often
  • Indecisiveness
  • Irritable and more sensitive to criticism
  • A more pessimistic and cynical outlook
  • Increased absenteeism

What can you do if you notice these things? Companies usually think they can address employee burnout by giving them more money, a new title, or better perks. While this might be a short-term solution, it doesn’t fix the real issue. As a result, the problem will come back eventually.

How bad is reception turnover in veterinary medicine?

According to a study from Zippia, more than 50% of veterinary receptionists last under two years in their role.

  • Less than one year: 29%
  • 1-2 years: 34%
  • 3-4 years: 14%
  • 5-7 years: 14%
  • 8-10 years: 4%
  • 11+ years: 5%

According to the AAHA’s 2020 Compensation & Benefits survey, veterinary staff turnover was 23 percent on average. Receptionists had a 32.5 percent turnover rate, veterinary technicians had a 23.4 percent turnover rate, managers had a 10.3 percent turnover rate, associate veterinarians had a 16% turnover rate, and all other employees had a 32.9 percent turnover rate in the same study. In 2010, Compdata’s Annual Salary Survey found that overall national employee turnover was 15.9% and 19.3% in 2018 compared with the global workforce.

How can you help your veterinary reception staff get their time back?

Like any job, automation and technology can help lessen the burden on your team. The digital solutions you put in place also contribute to a more pleasant patient experience. Here are some ideas for lowering front-desk staff burnout that your practice should consider:

Online appointment scheduling for veterinary clinics.

The average business call duration is 4 minutes and 52 seconds, meaning every time a customer calls, it takes about five minutes of your time. If you receive just a dozen calls daily, you lose one full hour of work time daily. If dozens of customers call you daily, it’s hard to get anything else done. Implementing a tool like Vetstoria allows your business to offer real-time appointment scheduling on your website, social media, and online listing pages. Fewer calls mean more time to get these things done, and your team will be happy to have the time to focus.

Online patient forms for veterinary clinics.

Forms can become a burden and cause a backlog in your clinic when people want to see their veterinarian. Build custom digital forms into your custom WhiskerCloud website to speed things up, automate customer intake, and keep your clients happy when they come to see you. We estimate roughly 90% of our clients have one or more digital forms on their websites. These forms range from New Client Forms, Medical Authorization Forms, and Appointment Request Forms, and save our clinics hours of work every week.

The ability to text message veterinary clients.

Answering the phone all day can be exhausting, but allowing your front desk staff to text with clients improves client communication. If you use an app like PetDesk, texting clients is easy and done right from your PetDesk dashboard. Save staff time while boosting client engagement and compliance by moving communication for reminders, confirmations, cancellations, and notifications to text messaging. Our Texting feature enables communication to take place anywhere, any time, and any place. The average phone call is nearly five minutes, but text messages remove some of the urgency that may cause stress from phone calls.

Investing in technology might help reduce and prevent front-desk employee burnout. But to avoid future aggravation, the technology must be simple to utilize.

Are you ready to take better care of your reception staff?

Technology can help, but it’s not the only solution. Managers also need to be proactive about recognizing the signs of burnout and addressing them before it gets out of hand.

Some other suggestions for preventing front-desk employee burnout include:

  • Encouraging regular breaks
  • Prioritizing tasks and setting realistic expectations
  • Promoting a healthy work/life balance
  • Showing appreciation for a job well done

Please be sure to emphasize your entire team’s mental health every single day.

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