As a local veterinary clinic, it can be challenging to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market. Providing employee benefits to your staff is an excellent way to improve retention. However, many traditional employee benefits options can be too expensive or complex for vet clinics to administer.
So, how do veterinarians provide quality employee benefits to their staff without breaking the bank or taking on too much work?
This article will cover how to offer veterinary clinic employee benefits to attract and retain employees, even as a local clinic.
Why should veterinary clinics offer employee benefits?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are more than 32,000 clinics in the United States, employing more than 73,000 veterinarians and even more support staff. With an average of three staff members for every veterinarian, the U.S. veterinary industry is predominantly made up of small independent employers.
With the rise of large corporate vets, small clinics can have trouble competing for top veterinary employees.
Additionally, AVMA reported that vet appointments grew nationwide by 4.5% in 2020 and 6.5% in 2021. This creates additional stress on the veterinary workforce and a need for more veterinary technicians.
Employee turnover is also high within the veterinary industry, with turnover rates of near 26% for veterinary technicians and 16% for veterinarians, according to AVMA.
Offering employee benefits allows your veterinary practice to attract top talent easier in a tight labor market. It also reduces employee turnover by improving your employee experience and overall job satisfaction.
Employee benefits have also been shown to improve productivity in the workplace, reduce employee stress, and meet the various needs of your employees.
When you set your staff up for success, your practice also thrives.
How do personalized employee benefits help veterinary clinics?
Instead of providing traditional employee benefits, you can offer personalized employee benefits. These benefits allow your employees to use their benefits the way they want to, enabling you to satisfy each employee’s individual needs.
Personalized employee benefits can also save you time and money.
As a veterinarian, you invest 100% of your physical, mental, and emotional energy into long days of assisting and treating animals - and that doesn’t include the side work of hiring and managing your office staff. When you add traditional employee benefits such as group health insurance to the mix, running your practice can become overwhelming.
As a result, many clinics switch to personalized benefits and individual health insurance plans to free up valuable time and money.
You can provide personalized benefits through the following methods:
- Benefit expense cards
- Lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs)
- Expense reimbursement
Personalized benefits help your veterinary clinic attract and retain top talent while increasing employee satisfaction, leading to you becoming an employer of choice.
What types of employee benefits are available?
There are many types of benefits available for veterinary clinics of all sizes. This includes traditional benefits, personalized benefits, and employee perks.
Some of the most popular employee benefits are:
- Health benefits
- Paid time off
- Retirement benefits
- Wellness programs
- Wellness stipends
- Tuition or education assistance
- Financial benefits
Let’s look at a few of these benefits in more detail in the following sections.
Health benefits are one of the most sought-after employee benefits you can provide. There are many different types of health benefits available, each with pros and cons.
Traditional group health insurance
Many employers choose to offer a group health insurance plan to their employees. While group health insurance is an excellent benefit, the rising cost of health insurance has turned many small to mid-sized employers away.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 31% of organizations with fewer than 50 employees offered group health insurance to their employees. Assuming vet clinics follow the same pattern, 69% of veterinary staff would be without a group health plan.
However, many clinics are moving away from traditional group health insurance in favor of personalized health benefits.
Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)
HRAs are a popular option among organizations that want to offer flexible health benefits to their employees. An HRA is an IRS-approved, employer-funded benefit that allows you to reimburse employees for qualifying medical expenses, including health insurance premiums.
The best part about an HRA is that it’s tax-free for you and your employees as long as they have individual health insurance with minimum essential coverage (MEC).
Three of the most popular types of HRAs available are the:
- Qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA)
- A QSEHRA is specifically designed for organizations with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). QSEHRA allowances are capped for the year at a rate set by the IRS. This is a great option for small veterinary practices that want to offer their first health benefit to employees
- Individual coverage HRA (ICHRA)
- An ICHRA is a great health benefits option for clinics of all sizes. With an ICHRA, you can customize your monthly allowances, including by employee classes. If you have more than 50 FTEs, an ICHRA can help you satisfy the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s employer mandate as long as your employees have individual coverage with MEC
- Group coverage HRA (GCHRA), also known as an integrated HRA
- An integrated HRA can be used to supplement your existing group health insurance plan, such as a high deductible health plan (HDHP)
A health stipend is another health reimbursement option similar to an HRA. Health stipends have fewer restrictions on what medical care expenses and mental health benefits you can use for them because they’re taxable for both the employer and the employee.
While HRAs are often a better choice for organizations, a health stipend is helpful if you have many employees who receive advance premium tax credits (APTC). Your employees can take advantage of their health stipend while maintaining APTC eligibility, which isn’t the case with an HRA.
Paid time off
Paid time off is an essential employee benefit for attracting and retaining employees. There are many ways to establish vacation time and sick leave. The most common method is for employees to accrue time off and sick leave for the number of hours they’ve worked. However, some organizations have started offering unlimited PTO.
Veterinarian retirement plans
Retirement plans are another popular employee benefits option. Small veterinarian clinics can offer their employees retirement benefits such as a 401(k) or an IRA.
Health benefits only support certain aspects of holistic employee wellbeing. Wellness programs help improve your employees’ physical and mental health, which increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.
Popular wellness programs include:
- Smoking cessation programs
- Fitness or weight loss programs
- Group wellness activities
- Nutrition and healthy snack programs
- Wellness apps
- Gym memberships
There are other ways to introduce an employee wellness program as a small veterinarian clinic. Instead of creating a comprehensive program, you can offer your staff a taxable wellness stipend.
Wellness stipends empower your employees to use their monthly reimbursement allowance how they want to. Instead of offering a gym membership to a specific gym near your clinic, your employees can decide how they want to use their wellness perk.
Your employees can use their wellness stipend to get reimbursed for exercise classes, exercise equipment, gym memberships, fitness trackers, mobile apps, and more.
Suppose you allow your employees to be reimbursed for all wellness categories. Instead of being forced into a one-size-fits-all wellness program, they could decide to be reimbursed for a new piece of home exercise equipment or use their expense for multiple items, like a gym membership and app subscription.
A great way to attract and retain employees is by offering tuition or education benefits such as tuition reimbursement or student loan repayment. This allows you to attract college students, recent graduates, and those looking to further their education in the veterinary field.
Other benefits for vet clinics
There are many other benefits and perks that can be offered at vet clinics. While some of these are becoming widespread, others are unique for vets.
Other benefits include:
- Pet care discounts
- Discounted veterinary service
- Uniform allowance
- Financial literacy programs
By offering employee benefits at your veterinary clinic, you’ll improve the lives of your staff while reducing employee turnover. Health benefits, PTO, retirement plans, wellness programs, and tuition benefits are excellent options that can significantly improve retention rates and attract the ideal job candidates for your practice.
Providing personalized employee benefits as a vet doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re ready to offer benefits to your staff, PeopleKeep can help! With our benefits administration software solutions, clinics of all sizes can manage HRAs and employee stipends in minutes each month.
This blog article was originally published on December 16, 2014. It was last updated on May 26, 2022.