VHMA Looks at Manager Job Satisfaction

By VHMA Admin posted 10 days ago


VHMA’s 2019 Compensation and Benefits Survey finds that a majority of managers are satisfied with their jobs. But what is driving that satisfaction? The March 2020 Insiders’ Insights survey is dedicated to understanding more about what factors contribute to manager job satisfaction.  Depending on the question about 175-200 responses were received. 1/3 of the respondents have been in a veterinary management role for 0-6 years, another 1/3 for 7-12 years, and the final 1/3 for 13+ years. Most of the respondents have a lot of experience in the veterinary industry with almost 80% having been in it for more than 10 years.

The first question in the survey asked managers to rate the following statements:

My responsibilities and duties are clearly defined.
I have the training I need to do my job.
The amount of work expected of me is reasonable.
I feel my skills are fully utilized in my job.
I feel challenged by my job.
The morale in the practice is high.
There is good communication among all staff (bottom up and peer-to-peer).
There is an atmosphere of teamwork and collaboration.
There is a positive workplace culture.
The practice culture, goals and medical direction matches my personal philosophies.
My fellow workers treat me with respect.
My practice owner(s) or supervisor values my input and opinions.
My practice owner(s) or supervisor supports my decisions.
My practice owner(s) or supervisor provides useful and constructive feedback.
The work I do gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.
I feel/know believe that my work contributes directly to the success of this practice.
My job performance is measured to ensure I am achieving the expected results.
My compensation is appropriate relative to my workload and responsibility level.
My benefits package is adequate for my needs.
My practice owner(s) or supervisor supports my professional growth. 

Some of the key trends noted:

  • 78% of the total responses are in the “somewhat agree”, “strongly agree” or “completely agree” categories. 6% of the responses are neutral (“neither agree nor disagree”) and 16% are in one of the “disagree” categories.
  • There is a lot of variation in responses to the different statements. The statement that got the most votes in the combined “agree strongly”/”completely agree” categories was “I feel/know believe that my work contributes directly to the success of this practice.” The statement with the fewest votes was “My job performance is measured to ensure I am achieving the expected results.” 3 ½ times as many people agreed with the first statement as with the second.

The next question asked: “Tell us specifically what top three factors could improve your level of satisfaction with your job?”


VHMA asked managers to say, in their own words, “What do you like best about working for your practice?” There were too many responses to list, below is a sample of the responses includes:

  • As a co-owner, I am building something for my future.
  • Community mission.
  • The "ownership" staff demonstrate over patient care and overall operations.
  • The challenges it presents.
  • It is fun. We laugh and joke a lot. Has more of a family vibe to the place.
  • I have been able to make some positive changes that benefit the employees, clients, and patients, and lead to better business overall. Not as many as I would like, but some.
  • Watching the employees grow and learn in their positions.
  • I have been able to make dramatic changes in the culture, HR, and improve the lives of the employees. Noticeable changes always keep me motivated to do more.
  • The practice owner has complete trust in my skills.
  • Incredibly supportive boss and an awesome team!
  • The autonomy I have had in shaping my team and culture.
  • Helping staff reach their goals and accomplish tasks they didn't think they could do.
  • Our reputation in the community for the service and care that we provide.
  • We have a very organized and structured hospital. People respect the rules. Veterinary med is always Chaos, but at least we are organized about it.

 We were also interested in the reverse side and so VHMA asked managers to say, in their own words, “What do you like least about working for your practice?” Again, there were too many responses to list, below is a sample of the responses includes:

  • Working with a significant other can be very challenging.
  • I've always worked here. I don't know if I will ever stop wondering what other jobs look like.
  • Sometimes feel like I have too much on my plate to do a great job at all my tasks.
  • The high volume and unreasonable client expectations.
  • Owner conflict.
  • Owner is disengaged in practice and veterinary medicine.
  • Staff that are not appreciative. 
  • The commute.
  • I am ultimately the final safeguard for our system. We are committed to not running the company short-staffed, and we have built a business reinforcing the importance of work/life balance, but I end up being floor support more often than I would like because other employees do not feel as obligated to support others in the quest for work/life balance.
  • Constant stress, feels like a thankless middle management position much of the time where I get all blame and no credit. Frustration with practice owner.
  • Compensation and working hours.
  • Hiring appropriate people.
  • Clients that are too demanding and have unrealistic expectations. Workplace pettiness.
  • Gossip.
  • 2 owners that don't see eye to eye.
  • The unreasonable demands we place on ourselves.
  • Incredibly long hours, too much email, fast paced fast growth company with lots of growing pains.
  • Dealing with personnel issues.
  • Corporate disconnect.
  • Compensation. I am running a multi-million dollar company and am not paid accordingly. I would be making double if I did the same thing in another profession.
  • The fuzzy lines around managing associate DVM's.
  • Micro-management from the owner, and distrust that goes across to the entire management team.
  • My "clean slate" also came with having to train from the ground up, on ALL levels of the team. I have a very young staff, and let’s face it…today's workforce isn't the dream team. They lack passion for what they do. No accountability, no responsibility.
  • The long delays in decision making.
  • I would like someone to converse with that truly understands.
  • No room for growth - this isn't a "this practice" issue, just the nature of the field.
  • The PO adds more work when too much is going on instead of focusing on patient care and charts, did not supply me with training on associate compensation and cannot teach with patience, looks at you like you are stupid when you don't understand something, and not just to me, but everyone, the mood swings are up and down of uncontrolled bi polar.
  • I would like more feedback and support from the the owner.
  • Dealing with drama.
  • My practice owner doesn't follow the rules/standards we have established.
  • My job responsibilities are waaayyy beyond the scope of reasonable for one person.
  • The owners are disengaged from the practice and there is not much communication with them.
  • I drive over an hour with no traffic to get to an amazing work place. A one day a week from home admin day would be beneficial.
  • The stress and pressure of handling interpersonal conflict on a daily basis/being an emotional punching bag. Lack of respect from veterinarians.
  • Practice owner who lets me make decisions, but then doesn't support them.
  • It is corporate now - so there are some marketing things they make us do that I do not fully agree with.
  • Stupidity.
  • Benefits aren't competitive. It really makes it a challenge when trying to hire.
  • Due to the profession’s needs, DVMs are in high demand.  This makes it a challenge to hold them accountable for their misbehavior or lack of participation in support staff growth. The constant need for younger DVMs to get praise for doing daily duties that are outlined in their job description.
  • Lack of challenges.
  • Not feeling needed.
  • Dealing with awful clients
  • The owners.
  • Wish we had more veterinarians.
  • I'm never off. I'm on call 24/7/365 and we are an emergency practice.
  • Poor communication and toxic behavior from the owner world!
  • Owners cannot agree on the direction they lead.
  • I have a difficult time disconnecting from work.
  • I would like more support from my PO and more regular check- He trusts me to do my job but I don't really ever get valuable feedback from him.
  • Staffing and what seems to be an "entitlement feeling."
  • I feel like I am in the middle ground. I have no authority but I have to set the rules.
  • It is very confusing.

The final question asked: “How satisfied are you with your job (1-7) with 7 being the highest?”  As can be seen in the graph below, most managers are satisfied with their jobs.



Review the full report, VHMA Insiders’ Insight March 2020, here.