The smell of freshly brewed coffee brings a smile to my face as I round the corner to my first morning stop. A large, free-standing billboard catches my eye, and I pause a moment to look it over. It’s a recruitment advertisement from Petco, displaying a golden retriever and a millennial woman, happy as can be, with large text, “Imagine Your Future at Petco.”
Sounds exciting actually. At that moment I saw my time as an optometrist flash before me. When I was looking for the right practice to work with, I struggled to find one that cared as much about inspiring and attracting their new hires as Petco seems to. Healthcare instead prioritizes speed; doctors just want a warm body in their practice to cycle through patients.
The topic stays on my mind as I return home and enjoy my latte in a massive ceramic travel mug. I sink deeply into my big, yellow armchair and I think more about my experience as an OD, and I start to ask myself why. Why do employers in eyecare never seem to speak the same language of younger docs? Do they not realize what matters to us? I’m not expecting practices to put up billboards that advertise their open positions, but there has to be some effort put into marketing their practice and telling their employer brand story.
It's about respect.
After graduation, I interviewed with two separate practices within a few days of each other, and my problem with both practices was the same: the owner and I weren’t on the same wavelength. Hell, we weren’t even speaking the same language. I respected them as doctors, but I could never work at a practice that didn’t understand their business’ mission, vision, or purpose. Sure, they had reasonable hours and compensation—but they didn’t consider how I felt as a candidate; they didn’t consider that life is about the experience and the journey, not money.
Whenever I talk to my OD friends, whether they are currently practicing or have gone toward other industry jobs, we are always aligned on one thing: we want to enjoy our journey on this planet and feel that every day should be maximized, engaging, fulfilling, and joyful. We don’t necessarily want to separate work and life completely; we want to be happy on our drive to work and on our drive home. We want to unite our work with our other life goals, and we have to see and feel that alignment before we even submit an application.
“"Employers have to be energized and receptive to our arrival at their practice, not frustrated and worried about getting back to seeing patients."”
To start, we’re looking for an ad that is excited about us as Petco is for its team. A practice can’t post some three sentence, flavorless job description. It has to be exciting and fun and make it clear that the practice knows exactly who they’re looking for.
And this goes beyond the description. Practices can easily have an awesome Instagram page that included videos of the founder talking about the company culture, how they give back to the community, and images that inspire prospective team members.
Create a welcoming place to work
Walking into a practice that understands these concepts and walking into one that doesn’t is like night and day. They say the interview process starts the moment you walk through the door, but that works both ways. Employers have to be energized and receptive to our arrival at their practice, not frustrated and worried about getting back to seeing patients. We’re not asking for or expecting special treatment, but we are expecting a degree of professionalism and the same respect that we express for the position. And this shouldn’t end when we start in the role either!
Engagement should extend directly into our on-the-job experience. Dedicated time for training, explaining benefits, and taking the team out for dinner as an onboarding celebration are small things that take a first day from “another first day” to a welcoming, fresh place to work.
Why stop there?
Having monthly meetings with the entire team, hosting quarterly team events, participating in charity projects, yoga events, and continuing growth can be felt throughout the team. With that much energy inspiring the team, the owner will be ready to open their second location, and with the team being dedicated to the same mission, it’s clear that everyone is focused in a single direction. For a practice like this, work and life are able to merge into one happy existence.
I’m not alone in thinking this.
The Apples and Googles of the world seem to get it. They go to great lengths to be a place that people love to work and even greater lengths to attract the best-of-the-best. Looking at businesses that are constantly growing, there is a consistent pattern of engagement, inclusion, and storytelling. So why are healthcare employers so bad at telling the story of their business to candidates? Why can’t they understand that our experience at work is just as important as our paycheck?
Yeah, I know that massive companies have tons of money to invest in recruitment-marketing, but money isn’t required to inspire excitement and passion. Money isn't required to tell your employer brand story. Money isn’t required for an employer to share, honestly and transparently, what makes their workplace and the experience in their practice unique. It just takes a little time and attention to be a healthcare practice that we want to share our career journey with.