Three Things Your Best Employees Want From Their Jobs

by Rebecca on March 18, 2013

I Love My JobI don’t know about you, but I only want the very best of the best working with me.  It can be challenging to find those people, and when you do, what can be done to ensure that they stay with you?  First, I think we need to understand that this generation of workers is not one to stay in the same job for a number of years. So despite our best efforts, some people may decide to seek different opportunities anyway.

I do believe there are some things though we should be doing in our practices to make sure the best people are going to stick around for as long as possible.

The inspiration for this post is Daniel Pink’s terrific book “Drive” that I highly recommend. He has found that there are essentially three things you MUST be willing to give to employees in order for them to be their best and give their best at work and those are:

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose


Having semblance of control over our lives is a basic human need.  Researchers have found a link between autonomy and overall well-being.  The opposite of autonomy is control and you probably know what it is like to work for a micro managing controlling boss-no fun!

Pink discusses some of the many ways you can provide autonomy for your employees-

  • seeing issues from their point of view,
  • giving meaningful feedback and information they need to know,
  • providing them with ample choice over what to do and how to do it, and
  • encouraging employees to take on new projects.

Interestingly enough, Pink cites a study from Cornell University that studied 320 small businesses- ½ of which granted workers autonomy, the other ½ relying on traditional top-down management.  The businesses that provided autonomy grew at 4X the rate of the control oriented businesses and had one third of the turnover.


One can only master what they do when they are engaged in their work.  According to Gallop research, more than 50% of employees are not engaged at work, and nearly 20% are actively disengaged.  Compliance used to be all we needed from our teams, but that is no longer enough.  With animal hospitals on every corner, we must have an engaged team if we are going to stay competitive and grow.

Training programs need be in place to help people master what is expected of them.  It is not fair to them, us, and certainly not to our patients to put people in situations where they have not been adequately trained or coached.  Mastery is something that takes time.  Hiring a veterinarian just out of school and expecting them to practice like a seasoned veteran is not only unfair but can also be demoralizing to them.

Research by renowned psychologist, Dr. Anders Ericsson, shows that it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years of disciplined practice to be considered an expert in any area.  I am not saying give someone 10 years to do things well, but do remember mastery takes time and effort.


Going back to human nature, people want to be part of something bigger than them.  A wise sage once said “without vision the people perish.”  We cannot expect the best people to follow us when they do not know where we are going.  Your hospital’s vision acts as a guiding star for where you want to be going.  Not only is having a vision essential, your leadership team must be discussing it at least every 21 days for it to stick.

We, as a profession do meaningful work each and every day, but do you share your vision with your team? One of our customers has as their vision to be a hospital that practices academic level medicine in a private practice setting- what a great vision to tap into and inspire their team to be part of something great.

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are really not difficult to provide to your team but they will take effort on your part.  I personally think it is well worth the time and effort to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself surrounded by the best people you can.

What systems do you have in place to ensure that your best team members are receiving the most job satisfaction they can?




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