The downside of saving animal lives

Due to the very nature of the job, both human and veterinary health sectors suffer from higher than average occupational stress, depression, mental disorders and suicide than the average occupation. Even when compared to other high-stress careers.

When dealing with the chronically ill and life and death situations on a daily basis, this does not come as a surprise.

What does come as a surprise is the average age of veterinary burnout. Vet burnout is occurring earlier and earlier, with graduate vets, predominately those under the age of 30, suffering burnout only a couple of years into the job.

New graduates into any sector generally start from the bottom, taking the grunt of the work that higher-level employees don’t wish to take on.

For vets, the impact of the workload is having disastrous consequences.

What causes veterinary burnout?

The vet sector in itself possesses a range of factors unlike any other industry, and it’s not just the vets themselves who are suffering.

You’ll find burnout common amongst practice receptionists, clinic managers, technicians, assistants and top-level management. Long hours, low job satisfaction, loss of control and compassion fatigue all combine and result in veterinary staff burnt out to the bone.

Add COVID on top, an increase in Australian families buying pets, social distancing restrictions imposed in clinics and a dramatic increase in workload, 2020 was a recipe for disaster.

Now, not only are we looking at an increase in demand for vet services, but fewer vets entering the industry, and those who are in it already, burnt out before they even hit their prime.

So what can be done?

How can we avoid veterinary burnout?

Professional burnout is not new. Yet when statistics are so high, especially within one industry, there is cause for concern.

The action needed in vet practices is no different from that of any other industry. It involves changing the work environment, implementing working practices that take care of veterinary staff (no matter their role) and giving back some control of the working situation.

The emotional toll within the veterinary industry will always be high. Staff are dealing with distressed owners, financial worries and high-stress situations on a daily basis.

To avoid compassion fatigue, we need to take care of those in the industry and provide support and guidance.

Focus on people, not the bottom line

By no means is the focus on the bottom line not important. Without a profit, a business fails to exist.

However, alongside aiming for increased revenue, focusing on improved organisational culture will, in turn, lift the bottom line. Happy employees equal productive employees. Stable employees equal less turnover. Allow staff to take back some control over their working environment and give some autonomy in their high-stress environment.

Empower your employees

Empowering employees with a sense of freedom goes a long way when it comes to their working environment. Ensure everyone, from the practice manager to the receptionist, knows their role and responsibilities.

Avoid piling an unachievable workload onto your staff. Share the load and share the decision-making processes. Giving staff a voice and allowing them to be heard can help lift the spirits within your practice, have a positive effect on compassion fatigue rates and create an overall, more balanced and cohesive team.

As we head into 2021 which will no doubt have its fair share of challenges, ensuring your staff are cared for and supported, will help keep your practice in a positive place.

Fusion and our expertise in specialising in the vet industry are witnessing exciting results when we work closely with our clients as a whole. A number of our coaching programs have been found effective in improving veterinary staff engagement and mental health, which naturally improves the bottom line. 

Give our team a call to discuss how we can assist your practice today.