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8 Ways to Find Time for Training

8 Ways to Find Time for Training

8 Ways to Find Time for Training

By Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, Communication Solutions for Veterinarians

While attending a conference, a veterinarian got a text from his hospital manager that a client service representative (CSR) had just resigned. More than half of veterinary front-office staff last under two years in their jobs.[1] The doctor asked me, “My manager already posted the job opening online. How can we train a new CSR to quickly get up to speed?” 

With practices’ current busyness, finding time for training can be challenging. Here are eight ways to ensure training happens:

1. Create onboarding checklists.

On their first day of employment, new hires get a checklist of skills to learn, training resources, and deadlines for completion. Set them up for success because the cost of turnover is 16 percent to 20 percent of an employee’s salary.[2]

In Jump-Start Your New Receptionist: 6 Courses, I share an onboarding checklist and six hours of online courses to achieve fundamental skills in phone techniques, scheduling, difficult clients, and client service (https://csvets.info/jumpstart). Assign mentors to teach skills and sign off on testing. At the end of each week, the CSR team leader checks in with the new hire to confirm progress and answer questions.

2. have staff create practice-specific training.

If you don’t have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in writing, start creating them with the help of new hires and their mentors.

Let’s say a mentor is teaching a new CSR how to create an electronic medical record in your practice-management software. Have the new hire write down each step while learning the process. Turn the document into a SOP for others to follow. While the mentor demonstrates step-by-step clicks, make a screen recording to accompany written instructions. Upload videos on your hospital’s private YouTube channel where employees can access tutorials that answer, “How do I…?”

3. identify training resources.

Gather internal and external sources that employees and managers can use such as:

4. block learning time in work schedules.

This may seem obvious, but you’ll guarantee that employees have dedicated time to learn. New hires will have lots of lesson time blocked in daily schedules while seasoned employees may get two hours a month. Supervisors can coordinate training dates and times so teams continue to work efficiently. For example, a surgery technician might have training time set aside from 2 to 3 p.m. after morning procedures finish and a lunch break. Putting training on staff schedules makes it official, like meetings that employees can’t miss.

You also will get better results when employees complete training at work. Too many interruptions happen at home. A manager told me her CSR submitted three hours of payroll to watch a one-hour course at home. Distractions of kids, dinner, laundry, and homework also may cause employees to retain less of what they learn. Expecting employees to put in extra time to learn at home tells them you don’t value their personal time or them. Have staff learn at work where you control the surroundings.

5. create a positive learning environment.

Provide a quiet nook such as a desk in the employee break room, conference room, phone cubby, or shared office. Place a basket of snacks, fruit, water, notepads, and pens next to the computer or tablet. Have headphones so employees can listen without distracting background noises.
 

6. make training part of your culture.

After new hires complete their 90-day introductory period, keep growth going. Identify which skills they need to learn and become proficient in performing. Set expectations and learning goals with deadlines during performance reviews.

7. set a ce requirement for all staff.

Veterinarians and credentialed technicians must complete a certain number of RACE-approved CE credits to remain licensed or certified throughout their careers. In Florida, veterinarians need 30 credits every two years while certified veterinary technicians need 15 credits every two years.[3] Set a CE requirement for CSRs and veterinary assistants employed at your practice such as eight credits every two years, which is half the number of CE credits required for technicians. Consider accepting a mix of RACE-approved CE credits as well as participation in lunch-n-learn sessions from vendors and certificates of completion for online courses.

Employees should submit training requests that require funding. At Mount Laurel Animal Hospital in Mount Laurel, N.J., every employee gets $350 per year for education and can request additional funds. Employees may use educational funds for dues, conferences, online courses, books, college, and other training. Certified veterinary technicians (CVTs) get annual CE allowances of $1,000. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers Veterinary Technician Specialty (VTS) certificates in more than 16 specialties from dentistry to behavior (https://navta.net/veterinary-technician-specialties/). Mount Laurel Animal Hospital’s technicians with a VTS certification get $1,500 for CE annually.

8. tie training to job advancement.

Create job levels with skill checklists. Adobe Veterinary Center in Tucson, Arizona, has four job tiers for CSR positions. Level 1 CSRs learn 55 skills, ranging from appointment scheduling to creating and maintaining electronic medical records. Employees get training through online courses, SOP manuals, mentors, and hands-on instructions. Tests confirm they have become competent in skills. Wages increase as employees move up through job tiers. Once CSRs reach Level 4, they have become proficient in 94 skills. Discover how to create job structure in my course on Career Paths: A Guide to Implementing Job Levels (https://csvets.info/careerpaths). Employees who see clear upward opportunities with your practice are more likely to stick with you longer. 

Companies that offer ongoing skill development are seven times more likely to retain their employees.[4] Teammates who spend time learning at work also are less stressed and more productive. Finding time for training will get your employees and practice growing.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? 

Enroll your team in the training bundle: jump-start your new receptionist: 6 Courses.

About the Author: Best known as the “Queen of Scripts,” Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, has taught communication and client service skills for more than two decades. As founder of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians, she teaches practical skills through online courses, onsite coaching, and conferences. Wendy was a partner in an AAHA-accredited specialty and emergency practice. Visit CsvetsCourses.com to learn more.

References:

1. How to Help Your Veterinary Front-Desk Team with Burnout. Available at: https://whiskercloud.com/blog/help-your-veterinary-front-desk-burnout#:~:text=How%20bad%20is%20reception%20turnover,two%20years%20in%20their%20role.&text=According%20to%20the%20AAHA%27s%202020,was%2023%20percent%20on%20average. Accessed March 18, 2024.

2. Hansen M. How to Get Employees Excited About Training: 10 Ways to Motivate Them. Available at: https://www.edgepointlearning.com/blog/get-employees-excited-about-training/. Accessed March 18, 2024.

3. Frequently Asked Questions About Continuing Education. Florida Veterinary Medical Association. Available at: https://fvma.org/continuing-education/about-continuing-education-ce/. Accessed March 18, 2024.

4. Hilgers L. How to Help Employees Make Time for Learning at Work. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/learning-and-development/how-to-help-employees-make-time-for-learning-at-work. Accessed March 18, 2024.

Is remote work the secret to keep staff?

Is remote work the secret to keep staff?

Is remote work the secret to keep staff?

By Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, Communication Solutions for Veterinarians

When a rockstar client service representative moved out of state, a Montana practice had the employee work remotely to answer phones, enter inventory, and manage equine travel health certificates. A New York hospital manager works from home one day a week to review financials, set doctor and staff schedules, and prepare performance reviews.

Remote work is a dominant trend in 2023, with 13 percent of full-time employees working from home and 28 percent blending a hybrid model of home and in-office work.[1]

While veterinarians, technicians, and assistants need to deliver onsite patient care, hospital managers and client service representatives (CSRs) can do all or part of their work remotely. CSRs can answer phones, manage clinic emails and texts, schedule appointments, and call clients about overdue services and prescriptions. Managers can plan budgets, order inventory, create marketing initiatives, conduct virtual hiring interviews, write performance reviews, and complete tasks that benefit from focused, uninterrupted work. Remote workers can give your practice multiple advantages.

attract and keep top talent.

Millennials are the largest generation of the veterinary workforce, with women accounting for 78 percent.[2] Remote work aligns with millennials’ affinity for flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance.

“Everyone has wants, needs, and reasons to work from home. For me, it was the ability to stay home with my young children when the uncertainty of the pandemic was still lingering, and I could remain in my career field. The stars truly aligned,” explains Aimee Brulatour, who works from home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., as practice manager of HomeVets, a mobile, in-home veterinary service in Baltimore, Md.

Brulatour values the flexibility, level of privacy you do not get in a clinic setting, as well as the savings on gas and commute time.

A recent study found 82 percent of respondents are trying to hire at least one employee and are experiencing difficulties filling jobs at their practices.[3] Candidates now consider work-life balance and flexibility as the most important factors when evaluating job offers, with 81 percent saying they would be more loyal if they hadflexible work options.[4] Hybrid and fully remote jobs may help hospitals recruit and retain employees in competitive job markets.

When hiring a remote CSR, Brulatour sought candidates who are well-spoken because their voices are the face of the practice. “Veterinary experience is a must for us since training can have its challenges,” she says. “We use Google Meets for practice information management software training.”

HomeVets started completely decentralized and mobile in 2020 but recently bought a brick-and-mortar practice from two retiring doctors. Rebranded as HomeVets at Patapsco Valley in Ellicott City, Md., the practice is being remodeled and will reopen in October. The practice has four veterinarians and will give mobile HomeVets a facility to perform surgeries. Jordan Klaff, RVT, works as a mobile technician and remote CSR for HomeVets. Klaff manages calls for the mobile and brick-and-mortar practices, where an auto attendant menu routes calls to the remote CSR for scheduling and other inquires or to onsite staff if checking on hospitalized patients.

increase productivity.

When working fully remote, 35 percent of employees feel more productive.[1] They have fewer in-person distractions, the ability to design their own work environments, and reduced commute time.

“An employee who isn’t client-facing can be far more productive, have a better sense of well-being both personally and professionally, and have increased morale and retention when they are able to work outside of the clinic,” says Brulatour. “Although you are not onsite, you are more available to your team. Technology allows for document sharing and group edits, app communication, and virtual meetings. I can work late and still get dinner ready for my family or take an hour lunch and play outside.”

Working 100 percent remote, Brulatour’s hospital manager duties include staff schedules, payroll, benefits, budget and expenditure planning, social media and marketing, recruiting, staff training and meetings, performance reviews, biannual price audits, employee handbook, standard operating procedures, and employee events.

“If I have my laptop and phone, I can work from anywhere,” says Brulatour. “I don’t even need a printer! I use Google apps such as Sheets, Docs, Forms, and Calendar.”

reduce costs and reallocate space.

The average real estate savings with full-time teleworkers is $10,000 per employee per year.[5] With a hybrid model, a practice that has four CSRs could have two work onsite and two offsite. Remodel your lobby, converting a large front desk into a smaller workstation and repurposing the space for one or more exam rooms. The annual average revenue per exam room is $342,312 or $361 per square foot, according to AAHA’s Financial Productivity Pulsepoints.[6] In larger practices with three or more full-time veterinarians, the average revenue per square foot for exam rooms increases to $514.

A manager with a hybrid work schedule could work from home four days a week and one day onsite, sharing workspace in doctors’ offices when it is an associate veterinarian’s day off. The manager’s office could be repurposed as a revenue-generating exam room. A shared workspace also reduces computer and phone expenses.

embrace technology tools.

When Kaitlyn McMorran moved from California to Arkansas, she wanted to continue her job as hospital manager of Jeronimo Pet Clinic in Mission Viejo, Calif. She worked remotely for more than a year. McMorran used Splashtop for remote access to the practice-management software and RingCentral, a cloud-based phone and fax app that works on a desktop computer and mobile phone. Remote work let McMorran focus on computerizing the practice after Dr. Barbara Weintraub bought it from a retiring doctor. McMorran helped convert paper charts into electronic medical records, create a website and social media presence, enter financial records in accounting software, set up a client communication app, and add an online pharmacy.

“I wrote a job description for the remote practice manager position and talked with Dr. Weintraub about it,” she says. McMorran traveled to the practice several times during the year for onsite meetings.

Now McMorran has moved backed to California and has a hybrid schedule, mostly working onsite but does a workday from home as needed. While working onsite at Jeronimo Pet Clinic, she serves as a veterinary assistant and hospital manager. McMorran also is attending school to become a registered technician. She values the job flexibility and plans to do more remote work during her maternity leave in December.

Weekly virtual meetings help Brulatour collaborate with HomeVet owners Drs. Shawn Budge and Brittany Wolfe. Each year, she travels to Maryland to spend a week working with the HomeVets team and recently attended the VMX conference with its doctors. Brulatour also created a private Facebook group called Mobile In-Home Veterinary Network where more than 200 remote veterinary staff exchange resources.

“Embrace the future and all that technology has to offer,” Brulatour advises. “Start slow. Work on a hybrid model first and figure it out one step at a time. Never stop growing.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE? 

Enroll your team in the online course: Survival Tips When You’re Short-Staffed.

About the Author: Best known as the “Queen of Scripts,” Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, has taught communication and client service skills for more than two decades. As founder of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians, she teaches practical skills through online courses, onsite coaching, and conferences. Wendy was a partner in a specialty and emergency practice. Visit YouTube.com/csvets and Csvets.com for more.

References:

1. Haan K. Remote Work Statistics and Trends in 2023. Forbes Advisor. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/remote-work-statistics/#:~:text=As%20of%202023%2C%2012.7%25%20of,to%20a%20hybrid%20work%20model. Accessed July 24, 2023.

2. Practice Inefficiencies Compound Veterinary Stress. JAVMA News. Available at: https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-12-01/practice-inefficiencies-compound-veterinary-stress. Accessed July 24, 2023.

3. Groundbreaking IDEXX Study Reveals Opportunities to Increase Veterinary Practice Productivity. PR Newswire. Available at: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/groundbreaking-idexx-study-reveals-opportunities-to-increase-veterinary-practice-productivity-301750165.html. Accessed July 24, 2023.

4. Managing Flexible Work Arrangements. Available at: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingflexibleworkarrangements.aspx#:~:text=Many%20U.S.%20workers%20now%20consider,a%202020%20survey%20by%20FlexJobs. Accessed July 24, 2023.

5. Hussain A. 4 Reasons Why a Remote Workforce Is Better for Business. Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amarhussaineurope/2019/03/29/4-reasons-why-a-remote-workforce-is-better-for-business/?sh=48a8fbe41a64. Accessed July 24, 2023.

6. Hawn R. Hospital Considerations: Expand or Build New? Available at: https://www.mwiah.com/our-insights/hospital-considerations. Accessed July 24, 2023.

 

Can You Compete With $12 Per Hour at Chick-Fil-A?

Can You Compete With $12 Per Hour at Chick-Fil-A?

Can You Compete With $12 Per Hour at Chick-Fil-A?

My neighborhood Chick-Fil-A restaurant has a banner advertising jobs starting at $12 per hour. The fast-food franchise boasts a family culture, college scholarships, career paths to management or ownership, and work-free Sundays. Chick-Fil-A ranks among the top 100 in the 2018 Best Places to Work from The Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards. (*1) Selling more than chicken, Chick-Fil-A joins other top employers, including Facebook, Google, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Nestle Purina, and more.

I pulled into the ever-present drive-thru line to see what kind of service $12-per-hour workers deliver. Two employees with mobile devices were taking orders to reduce wait time. A Millennial greeted me, asked my name and what they could get started for me. As I drove to the window for my sandwich, the cashier welcomed me by name. When I thanked her, she replied, “It’s my pleasure” rather than the commonplace “no problem.”

Your veterinary hospital may be competing for the same entry-level workers. Indeed, a top job website, reports an average of $12.43 per hour for veterinary receptionists with typical tenure of one to three years. (*2) Job ads offered hourly wages from $13.22 to $20. Now the largest U.S. generation, Millennials rank compensation as the sixth quality they look for in employers. In a Harvard Business Review survey, Millennial job candidates want the opportunity to learn and grow, quality management, interest in the type of work, and opportunity for advancement. (*3)

 

To compete for entry-level workers, your veterinary hospital needs to:

1. Offer competitive wages.

Low unemployment rates in your community demand higher compensation. Profit sharing and bonuses can increase what employees take home. Give performance reviews to new hires at 30, 60 and 90 days. Once they complete the 90-day introductory period, include salary reviews with performance appraisals. You might hire candidates at $13 per hour, and then tell them a raise to $14 awaits if they complete the training program and earn a positive review.

 

2. Create a supportive culture.

Northfield Veterinary Hospital in Denver complements great pay with a great work environment. Perks include amusement park days, monthly staff dinners, a supportive team environment, and no staying late. “I’m an owner at the hospital and having a certified veterinary technician who has worked in the trenches for many years is appealing to staff,” says Jen Weston, CVT, manager and co-owner. “We have a great staff who are willing to train, answer questions and be supportive.”  At Trinity Animal Hospital in Holly Springs, N.C., the team goes bowling and plays laser tag, which its vendors sponsor.

American Animal Hospital in Omaha, Neb., conducts working interviews to prove its culture is the best in town. “We show candidates our friendly, positive work environment,” says Tabitha Show, LVT and practice manager. “Without a strong culture, you have nothing.”

 

3. Train up.

The staff of 30 at Roanoke Animal Hospital in Roanoke, Texas, has an average longevity of 8 years, with several employees staying longer than 10 years. “If you work in the kennel and have a desire to progress in this field, we will train you,” says Liz Hill Bird, hospital administrator. Teaching kennel workers to become veterinary assistants leads to job satisfaction and career paths.

 

4. Create clear career paths.

At Adobe Veterinary Center in Tucson, Ariz., Dr. Christine Staten designed tiered positions for receptionists and technicians. Employees get a list of skills to master for each level with test-outs. Pay increases as team members graduate to higher tiers.

 

5. Provide continuing-education opportunities.

Conferences are awesome perks, but few practices can spend thousands for every employee. Start a journal club where you share and discuss client-service and management articles. Use webinars for staff meetings. Go to community events that distributor and pharmaceutical representatives host. Join a local practice managers group. Have doctors present what they learned at conferences and which ideas your team could implement.

 

6. Delegate projects.

Employees may be interested in marketing the practice on social media, making YouTube videos, designing educational bulletin boards, managing inventory, establishing an angel fund, and other projects that could grow your business. “Train them for new skills,” advises Nikki Richardson, hospital administrator at Trinity Animal Hospital. “Team member retention and low turnover will make you more money in the long run.”

 

7. Offer flexible schedules.

If your practice is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, you need staffing for 10 business hours each day. Consider allowing employees to work four 10-hour shifts for a total of 40 hours per week. One receptionist works Monday through Thursday while another covers Tuesday to Friday. Organize shifts so you have appropriate daily staffing coverage while letting employees enjoy four-day workweeks.

 

8. Provide veterinary care savings.

Follow IRS guidelines of no more than a 20 percent discount, or you risk audit and tax consequences. Define limits on the number of personal pets covered and have a manager enter charges to prevent abuse of the benefit. Some practices pay employees’ pet insurance premiums in lieu of discounted professional services.

 

9. Have uniforms.

Employees represent your brand. Set standards of appearance for uniforms, name tags, jewelry and personal grooming. The employee handbook at Taco Bell explains, “It’s important to be proud of the way you look every day. When you look good, Taco Bell looks good.” (*4)

 

While helping pets and people leads to tremendous job satisfaction, altruism won’t pay the bills. A combination of competitive wages and great perks will help your veterinary hospital attract and retain the best candidates.

References:

*1 – 2018 Best Places to Work: Employees’ Choice. Glassdoor. Accessed March 16, 2019 at www.glassdoor.com/Award/Best-Places-to-Work-LST_KQ0,19.htm.

*2 – Veterinary receptionist salaries in the United States. Updated Feb. 17, 2018. Accessed Feb. 19, 2018 at www.indeed.com/salaries/Veterinary-Receptionist-Salaries.

*3 – Rigoni, B. and Adkins, A. What Millennials Want from a New Job. Harvard Business Review. Published May 11, 2016. Accessed Feb. 19, 2018 at https://hbr.org/2016/05/what-millennials-want-from-a-new-job.

*4 – Taco Bell Handbook. Published October 2015. Accessed Feb. 19, 2018 at www.hralliance.net/cofiles/38305_c6131950/files/Taco%20Bell%20Handbook(1).pdf.

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