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Engage to Retain

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Thom Jenkins

Engage to Retain

As a sector, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can attract the best talent to our practices but we don’t spend anywhere near enough time thinking about how we can retain them. It’s like trying to run a bath without the plug in. 
 
At Recruit4vets we’re very happy to help you match the best with the best but we wouldn’t be serving you properly if we didn’t also spend some time thinking about how to optimise employee lifetime value. 
 
You might have come across the idea of customer lifetime value (CLV), and the concept of employee lifetime value is directly comparable. Indeed, many of the same tools you use to engineer delightful customer experiences can be applied to optimising your employee experience. Net Promoter Score is one such tool.
 

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter methodology is now pretty well deployed through the veterinary sector. You know the one, it’s where we ask how likely a client would be to recommend our company to a friend, colleague or family member. Clients then rate you on a scale of 0 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (extremely likely). Anyone scoring you a 9 or a 10 is classed as a promoter - these are your brand evangelists. Client scoring you a 7 or 8 are passives - you got the job done but you’re nothing to write home about. Finally, anyone scoring you a 6 or less is a detractor - they will tell everyone about exactly how you let them down. 
 
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is not a straightforward average, instead it’s calculated as follows:
 
NPS = Percentage of Promoters - Percentage of Detractors
 
As such, your client NPS can fall on a scale anywhere from negative 100% to positive 100%. Our research suggests veterinary clinics score in excess of +60%, which is actually very good compared to other sectors - pet owners generally think pretty highly of vets, which is great. However, let’s not celebrate just yet… 
 
NPS has been adapted to produce an employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), where you ask: “How likely would you be to recommend this company as a place of work?”
 
At Recruit4vets we did exactly that, surveying our vet and nurse database to produce a benchmark employee Net Promoter Score for the sector.
 

What do you think the score was? 

Sadly, it was negative. An abysmal -35.4%. Across industries a fairly typical score would be +14%. Clearly we’re doing a better job at providing engaging experiences for the veterinary customer than we are for the veterinary team. And this is a problem because eNPS has been found to be a leading indicator of employee churn. In a sector where talent can be in short supply, churn is a big and expensive problem. 
 
We also know that as a sector we face problems with employee burn out, compassion fatigue and shockingly high suicide rates. By deploying eNPS as a metric, we could arm ourselves with a metric by which to measure the results of our efforts to improve the employee experience, and hopefully get early feedback on problems that could otherwise boil over. 
 
Richard Branson put it well when he said: “If the person who works at your company is 100% proud of the job they’re doing, if you give them the tools to do a good job, if they were looked after, if they’re treated well, then they’re gonna be smiling, they’re gonna be happy and therefore the customer will have a nice experience. If the person who’s working for your company is not given the right tools, is not looked after, is not appreciated, they’re not gonna do things with a smile and there the customer will be treated in a way where often they won’t want to come back for more.”
 
The score aside, the survey wasn’t all bad news. Out of 134 responses, 20 counted as promoters. These passionate brand evangelists for their place of work mentioned the following when asked the main reason for their score:
 
Friendly, supportive teams
United around delivering clinical excellence
High standards of care
Great people
 
Perhaps more importantly, the respondents as a whole highlighted the following areas as opportunities for improvement:
 
Unresponsive management
High levels of stress
Employees not valued
Poor working conditions
Overly commercial
 
It’s worth noting that the people we surveyed came from a range of different backgrounds, had different values and worked at a plethora of different clinics. It’s important that as leaders we realise that not everyone experiences the world in the same way. Someone that is miserable in one clinic could be ecstatically happy in another. Context matters. That’s why our motto is to match the best with the best, because what’s best for you, is not necessarily what’s best for someone else - it’s subjective and so much depends on context.
 
Ultimately, a lot of this comes back to recruiting/selecting the right people in the first place - get the right people on your bus! But once they’re there keep them there by engaging to retain. A good first step is to start measuring eNPS as a measure of your employee engagement, remembering the old adage that what gets measured gets managed.
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