Fill the work slots, not a position

Apr 25, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA

There is frequent discussion about how practices and employers must change to accommodate a new generation of workers.  Most of those conversations focus on putting a young employee with different priorities and needs into a work model that quite frankly isn't a good match.  That typically will not result in a positive outcome for the practice or the employee.

One solution is to change the way you view your labor needs.  Instead of viewing an open veterinarian or staff position as just that, one open position, perhaps it should be viewed as unfilled work slots with specific requirements.  How is this a different approach?

In viewing it as an open position, you automatically look for one person to fill the position.  When your recruiting pool contains mostly candidates for whom the open position isn't a complete fit, you end up with an unhappy employee and an unhappy employer.  

In contrast, if you view the opening as open work slots that you need to fill, you can begin to look for people with appropriate qualifications who can contribute to filling the open slots.  It's not an all or none situation.  You might fill a portion of the open slots with one candidate, and another portion of the open work slots with another person.  Remember that many younger workers prefer flexibility and control of their schedule more than they value money or other incentives.  So, multiple workers sharing what used to be one position might result in more team depth, happier employees, and a positive result for the practice.  

This approach also matches the increasing demographic of more female veterinarians in the work force.  With this trend, practices will experience more maternity leave situations and part-time employees might become the standard for filling the open work slots that result.

Remember, an open position isn't always best filled with one person.  It might take multiple people to deliver the services you need.

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