Can flexible working really help you retain vets and nurses in clinical practice?

It’s understandable that employers and managers may be hesitant to engage with the topic of flexible working. Rightly so, they are often concerned about how an individual’s flexible working arrangement may impact the business and the team. And it may feel even more counterintuitive in today’s workforce shortage times. However, the BVA’s good veterinary workforce report clearly shows that a vet’s day-to-day experiences at work have the greatest impact on whether they stay or leave their clinical job. Why? Because it’s the day-to-day things that influence one’s perception of the workplace and impacts on their satisfaction at work. Flexible working is one way to improve satisfaction and is therefore an important way to improve retention. 


Various pieces of research show the benefit of flexible working in retaining staff. A CIPD report found that:

  • Staff working flexibly experience higher level of engagement, which can reduce staff turnover by 87% 
  • For entry-level employee, flexible working improves retention and commitment by reducing job-life spillover
  • For senior employees and managerial staff, flexible working enables work continuation, particularly as they become parents 


In our Flexee report in 2020, 61% of respondents (vets and vet nurses) said that flexible working helps attract and retain staff. This was perceived as the number one benefit of flexible working in the veterinary profession. 


So how can flexible working help us retain happy staff in clinical vet practice? There are many aspects to making flexible working work. These include an effective application of the teamwide give-and-take model, autonomy and high-trust culture, successful utilisation of technology, and effective trialling and managing of alternative working patterns. To reflect on where your practice needs to focus and find out where you fall short, we have created the Flexee Health Score – a free tool composed of 11 reflective questions. Respondents take on average 3 minutes to complete it.

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