#TimeForChange: BVA launches ‘Return to work’ toolkit to help tackle workforce issues

Recruitment and retention remain an ongoing challenge for the veterinary profession and creating positive workplace cultures and experiences is key to attracting new talent, as well as encouraging skilled staff back into the workforce. To help tackle this, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched a new ‘Return to work’ toolkit to support its members returning to veterinary workplaces, and for employers and managers welcoming ‘returners’ to their teams.

New statistics from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession Autumn 2023 survey show that 17% of vets are actively planning to leave the profession in the next five years, with another 19% unsure whether they will remain. These concerning figures highlight the need for employers to seriously consider how they can better support their staff, as well as potential returners, in order to improve recruitment, retention and job satisfaction among their teams.

The toolkit is the latest resource to be launched as part of BVA’s Good Veterinary Workplaces initiative and includes support for both veterinary employees seeking to return after time away from the profession, and their potential employers.

BVA President Anna Judson said: “Whilst Brexit, the pandemic and other external factors have exacerbated the profession’s ongoing recruitment issues, we must recognise there is more we can do as a profession to retain our highly skilled teams, as well as encourage vets back into the workforce. We know there are many members of team vet who are not currently practising for a variety of reasons, but with the right support, could return and make an invaluable contribution.”

There are a range of reasons vets choose to step away from the profession, with one of the most common being the addition of a new child to the family. Statistics from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession Spring 2023 survey show one in three vets has taken parental leave during the course of their career so far. Female vets are more likely to take this type of leave (40%) and when asked how supported they felt by their employer during their absence from work and return to work just 24% felt very well supported, compared with almost half of male vets (48%). One in seven female vets (14%) felt that they were not supported at all.

Anna added: “We want to build a modern, accessible profession for everyone, with veterinary workplaces offering an inclusive and supportive environment for all members of team vet. I know from experience how daunting it can be to return to veterinary work after stepping away, even for a relatively short time. There are simple steps that can be taken by employers and employees to make the transition more positive on both sides. Our new checklists are a great tool to help you work through the process.”

The new resources are available to BVA members at www.bva.co.uk/return-to-work They include guidance for employees, managers, and employers and two downloadable checklists – one for employees and one for employers. These will be accompanied by a series of case studies, further exploring the challenges and benefits of returning to work. This resource joins our range of supportive materials specifically designed to help veterinary workplaces tackle issues such as pay, flexible working, and menopause, and the new BVA employment hub, which offers quick access to support and guidance on some of the most common queries in veterinary workplaces.

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