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Strengthening the Start of The Race: Encouraging Engagement Among New Hires

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An engaged and committed workforce is the lifeblood of any animal health company. They solve problems, introduce new ideas, and provide unmatched customer service, creating a competitive advantage.

Overall, animal health employee engagement remains high. However, our 2023 Attitudinal Survey  identified a distinct cohort that is far less engaged than their peers. These employees are in need of special attention.

A rough start

Employees with 5 or fewer years of experience were significantly less happy than employees with 6 or more years of experience.2 The vast majority (83%) are actively looking to change jobs. Their hunt for change signals their disengagement.

A step in the right direction

How can leaders address this problem? They must both listen and act.

In our survey of hiring managers, mismatched expectations were a major cause of missed hiring quotas and failed hiring attempts. While 35% of candidates who were offered jobs turned them down because of the compensation, hiring managers reported that 48% of candidates’ expectations for compensation were simply unrealistic.1

Aligning expectations begins during the interview process. Listen to a candidate’s questions about the role, and answer honestly. When you emphasize your advertised position’s positive aspects, don’t exaggerate. Explain how often employees are expected to be in the office or are permitted to work remotely, and the rules around non-standard work hours or overtime. Don’t be coy about compensation: give facts about salary, bonuses, and opportunities for advancement.

While important with all candidates, these discussions may be particularly critical with those taking their first step into the industry: 61% of people working in animal health for 5 years or less are not happy at work.2

The beginner’s boost

Provide a robust onboarding program. Clear plans, peer coaches, and regular check-ins with your new hire are just a start. Every new hire has questions; make sure they know who to ask and are comfortable doing so. Be patient; you have had time to get used to the way things work. They are starting from scratch. As a manager, your actions matter: during the first 5 years in an animal health career, the manager has the greatest impact on whether an employee stays or leaves.2

If you hire someone knowing that they will need training, make that training meaningful: supplying an SOP or online video is not sufficient. Meaningful practice tasks and supervised work with feedback are much more likely to give them the skills they need.

Talk with me, not at me

Are your 1:1 meetings meaningful? Or are they 3-5 minutes of generalities? Ask questions and listen to the answers. Use open-ended questions: “tell me more about that” or “what would improve the situation?” Agree on a clear plan of action, then implement it.

These actions are important with any disengaged employee but are particularly important with those at the beginning of their career. As someone’s first manager, you can be the difference between a smooth take-off and a rocky start. A good manager can make the difference between an employee who quickly becomes an asset to the team, and one who must be let go.


Are you looking for experienced candidates with a passion for animal health? They are looking for you at Animal Health Jobs. Post your animal health job opening with us, or contact us for help with executive searches. Join the top animal health and animal nutrition companies at the premier jobs marketplace in animal health.  


  1. Animal Health Jobs Survey of Hiring Practices. Autumn 2022. Available at https://animalhealthjobs.com/blog/4532/animal-health-jobs-survey-of-hiring-practices
  2. Different Kettles of Fish: Results of the Animal Health Jobs Spring 2023 Attitudinal Survey. Available at: https://animalhealthjobs.com/blog/whitepapers
Strengthening the Start of The Race: Encouraging Engagement Among New Hires
Amanda McDavid