I’m going to state my strong opinion immediately: I believe that human resources is one of the business areas that we fail the most in veterinary medicine. We fail our employees, and in turn, that makes our business far less capable than it could be.
It’s not that we’re bad people or intentionally mean to harm our employees. On the contrary, I believe business owners who more often than not do care about our employees, we have positive intentions. Nonetheless, the results are textbook HR nightmares. Not that I have done this myself, of course. Okay, I’ve probably made just about every HR mistake we’ve learned in school.
I’ll be honest that HR is not a particular interest of mine, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it needs to be. It’s one of the most common areas where my friends and classmates are having problems when they ask me questions. It’s by far the most common problematic area on the Facebook vet groups. And as a mental health advocate in a field that’s pretty rough on mental health, I wish that there were more resources within our field and even individual practices to support us when we’re not feeling great mentally.
I plan to generate more content on my site around the area of HR, but in this blog, I'm going to list some resources from the government that you may not know exist that tell you exactly what they expect from you as a business owner. Coincidentally, many of these expectations also align with excellent ways to support your employees!
And to clarify, I am based in the United States, so these are all U.S. government resources. With that said, they still may help someone who is not sure where to start on the basics (although clearly, I would refer to your government for legal requirements).
These are some of the most important federal resources available, although certainly not an exhaustive list. I reserve the right to update this later if I realize I’ve missed others.
Also keep in mind that your states also have helpful resources, as well as your local agencies, chambers of commerce, and other organizations like SCORE and business incubators.
1. US Small Business Administration
Home Page: The SBA has tons of resources for ALL aspects of your business, human
resources being one of them.
Hire and pay employees
Employees and independent contractors
Plan to offer employee benefits
Follow federal and state labor laws
2. Department of Labor
Home Page: Has resources from both the perspective of the employer and employee
3. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Home Page: For veterinary safety recommendations. TONS of resources here, specific to many veterinary areas, including OSHA guidelines.
OSHA Standards for COVID-19: Highlights OSHA standards and directives and other information that may apply to worker exposure to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Please note the section on Worker’s Rights and Employer’s Responsibilities, which states “prohibits employers from retaliating against employees fo exercising a variety of rights guaranteed under the OSH Act, such as filing a safety or health complaint with OSHA, raising a health and safety concern with their employers, participating in an OSHA inspection, or reporting a work-related injury or illness.”
5. US Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Home Page: As a small business owner and an employer, you may have legal responsibilities under the federal employment anti-discrimination laws. This is also where employees can, for no cost, report to if they feel that they’ve been discriminated against or retaliated against, so it’s important to be sure you are following the rules that apply to your situation.
Stay tuned for more in-depth articles on human resources, and how you can improve your veterinary business in this important area!
Hi, I'm Karen Bolten! I'm a former large animal veterinarian and practice owner. I'm a current #dogmom, horse brusher, and fish tank cleaner. I have a Bachelor's in Business Administration (Operations and Supply Chain Management), and I'm now an MBA candidate.
My goal is to help other veterinary business owners to better understand their businesses, whether you are just starting out or you've been at it for a few years! While it may seem insurmountable, I truly believe it can be done, and you deserve to understand what may be holding you back.
Please, if you have any questions about anything I wrote in this article, and how you can make this work for you, please reach out below in the comments, or your can contact me via:
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