Community Mastermind - London Vet Show 2023

‘Jigsaw Practices’ - how do we make it work?

Flexee and XLVets’ recent project work has led us to identify the concept of ‘jigsaw practices’ as the frontrunner in flexible working strategies for veterinary businesses.

We were keen to hear insights from the wider veterinary community as to the perceived barriers and enablers to adopting flexible working so that we can identify and explore what needs to be in our ‘Jigsaw Practice Toolkit’.

What you told us:
insights & ideas

Rota Management & Technology

  • Rota management is very time-consuming
    • Individuals involved in it must be passionate about it and keen to take on the responsibility
    • It is not always the best use of the clinical staff’s time
  • Technology is useful to save time when generating rotas, but “real world” input is still important
    • There is a need to align factors such as level of experience across different employee groups, e.g. a newly qualified vet being on shift with more experienced staff
  • Transparency and fairness are key
    • The whole team needs to understand the rostering process: how staff and business needs are integrated to generate the rota
    • Team members need to be able to express preferences and concerns promptly to the person(s) responsible for the rota
    • Team members need to trust that the process is not biased by the person(s) responsible for the rota
  • There is a sense of mistrust around entirely outsourcing rota management to a non-clinical team or even to technology/software
    • Centralised rota management needs to allow for “local” influence at the practice level too

Salary & Budget Management

  • Offering flexible working can generate goodwill and staff loyalty in return. This has long-term benefits for the business:
    • ‘Part-time’ workers can often plug extra shifts at short notice.
    • Individuals who reduce their hours to accommodate childcare will often come back to work full-time, once their children are old enough. 
    • Practice teams that are made up of predominantly ‘part-time’ workers are generally more stable and report fewer issues with recruitment/retention.
  • Salary management can be complicated
    • Flexible workers value having a reliable, predictable income that doesn’t vary month to month, even if their hours do.  We need to look at considering how other industries manage this e.g. term-time only employees. 
  • Do we need to redefine “normal” business hours?
    • Should we revisit how ‘anti-social’ hours are defined and remunerated in the veterinary industry?  Evidence suggests that 5 – 9 pm shifts are now very popular with working parents. Staff supply and demand can be capitalised upon to benefit everyone if employers are imaginative about new ways to operate their business.

Culture & Team Alignment

  • Some part-time workers can feel relatively undervalued
    • There can be a perception of part-time staff not being as valuable as full-timers, e.g. redundancy being given to part-time workers first.
  • EVERYONE needs to understand how flexible working works so that expectations are matched:
    • there needs to be compromise and understanding on both sides
  • Morale and communication are the responsibility of the team’s leader(s)
    • They must be proactive about managing these to ensure the successful implementation of flexible working
    • ‘Not feeling heard’ is a common reason for individuals to move from a permanent position to locum work.

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