CVS has published a study1 which has identified the main factors that are predictive of resignations by support staff team members, including receptionists, patient care advisors and other support staff in companion animal practice. 

For the study, 12 month's worth of anonymised data from CVS practices was analysed2.  

The study concluded that lower engagement between a practice and its staff or clients, recent parental leave, shorter practice employment tenure, and younger age were all associated with an increased likelihood of support staff resignations.

Lower practice client engagement, which CVS says is a proxy for client satisfaction, was associated with increased odds of support staff resigning3, highlighting the potential impact of client incivility on veterinary colleagues who are typically in customer facing roles.

Reduced employee engagement – measured by a ‘employee net promoter score’ (eNPS), where colleagues rate how likely they would recommend the practice as a good place to work4, also correlated with increased resignations.

Within CVS, eNPS has been demonstrated to be positively correlated with the frequency of line manager discussions.

The current data suggests that consistent measurement of employee engagement in a veterinary setting at regular intervals throughout the year can have benefits for line managers in identifying increases in the risk of resignations and practice attrition, allowing them to take proactive steps to improve engagement.

A recent record of taking parental leave was also associated with greater odds of resigning in the following 12 months than staff who have not taken parental leave in the previous 12 months5.

Qualitative studies in other professions highlight the need for greater flexibility in working hours and focused managerial check-in support.

Therefore ‘return to work’ interventions may present an opportunity to improve retention.

Conversely, the increased length of employment tenure was associated with decreasing odds of support staff resignations6, potentially highlighting the role for long service reward schemes, such as the long service holiday awards CVS introduced a couple of years ago. Whilst employee age was associated with the odds of resignations, with a 1% decrease in the odds of support staff resigning with each additional year of age7.

Imogen Schofield, Director of Clinical Research at CVS, said: “Support staff are integral members of the team.

"These key roles contribute to the efficient and effective functioning of a veterinary practice.

"Despite the important roles of support staff, little research exists on these team members and there is no data describing reasons for their attrition.

“This research was done to help the wider industry to understand how we can reduce support staff resignations.

"It aims to identify demographic, payroll and engagement factors associated with resignations.

"We believe it adds valuable insights to previous survey-based research by organisations such as the British Veterinary Receptionist Association.

“Reflecting on our research from 2021, we have introduced a Zero Tolerance Policy to protect our colleagues against intrusive, offensive, violent or aggressive behaviour from clients.

"We have launched monthly interactive Receptionist Support Sessions, giving receptionists the opportunity to connect with their peer network, share experiences and ideas, and feel supported.

"And we are now focussing on developing our support staff through creating new Receptionist and Patient Care Assistant Career Pathways.” 


  1. Schofield I, Jacklin B. Client and employee engagement measures predict resignations of veterinary support staff: An analysis of UK companion animal practice data. Vet Rec. 2024 Jun 9:e4268. doi: 10.1002/vetr.4268. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38852995.
  2. Those who remained at, or resigned from, their practice between 1st January to 31st December 2021
  3. (Odds ratio = 0.98; 95% CI 0.97 – 1.00; 0.012)
  4. (Odds ratio = 0.99; 95% CI 0.99 – 1.00; p < 0.001)
  5. (Odds ratio = 2.37; 95% 1.38 – 4.07; p = 0.002).
  6. (Odds ratio = 0.92; 95% CI 0.90 – 0.95; p < 0.001)
  7. (Odds ratio = 0.99; 95% CI 0.98 – 1.00; p = 0.017)

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