Is an ESOP a Good Option for My Veterinary Practice?

by easyDVM

Employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, are a powerful way of encouraging your employees to take an active interest in your business. They can powerfully impact your company for the better, although they’re not without drawbacks. Read on to learn more about ESOPs, and how they incentivize employees.

What Is an ESOP?

An ESOP is a plan where a company pays benefits to employees in the form of shares in the company. These shares can’t be sold off until the employee leaves the company.

When that happens, the company automatically purchases the employee’s stock. Employees can choose to receive that money in a lump sum, or in payments over time.

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Different ESOPs may be set up differently. Some companies may not distribute stock to employees until they’ve been with the company for a certain length of time. Others may distribute a type of stock that doesn’t come with voting privileges, which restricts employees from making key decisions (unless they buy normal stock in the company on their own, of course).

An Example

Sarah works as a veterinarian at a practice with an ESOP. She came on because she liked this investment option – although she had to work there for a year to get it, and it doesn’t give her voting rights.

Every year, her ESOP benefits buy shares in the veterinary practice. She can’t sell them until she leaves the practice. Because she can’t get out of her investment early, she knows she has to work hard to see the practice succeed.

Sarah is nearing retirement age. She’s excited for her shares to “vest”, meaning she’ll receive money for them (matching their value at the time of her retirement). The veterinary practice will directly buy her shares, then distribute them over time to other veterinary employees.

The Benefits

Employees like ESOPs. Giving veterinary employees stock in the corporation will encourage them to apply at the veterinary practice and stay there longer, so they accrue benefits. If a practice is having trouble recruiting and retaining veterinary employees, an ESOP can be a key part of a strategy to turn that around. ESOPs also often come with many tax benefits for employees and the veterinary practice.

ESOPs also encourage employees to care about the veterinary practice. Their investment is tied to investors’ confidence. If employees don’t care about the practice’s future, an ESOP is a powerful way of reminding them that everyone should be pulling together.

Limitations and Drawbacks

Despite their appeal, ESOPs have some serious limitations and drawbacks. Perhaps the most obvious limitation is that not all companies distribute stock. A sole proprietorship or other non-stock corporation won’t be able to provide employees an ESOP.

Stock is a measure of real ownership in a veterinary practice. When a practice sells stock to the public, they lose a certain amount of control over their practice to shareholders. Veterinary practices with ESOPs often cede some control to their employees, although nowhere near as much as they cede in a model like a worker-owned cooperative. Concerned practices can distribute ESOP stock that doesn’t give employees voting privileges.

In some rare but troubling cases, an ESOP may incentivize bad employee behavior. An employee might fail to blow the whistle on scandalous practices within the practice, for instance, because this would cause investors to lose confidence in the veterinary practice and cause the employees’ investments to lose value. Rather than addressing the bad practices and amending them, employees might allow the toxic elements within the practice to fester. To avoid this, it’s vital to maintain a culture of accountability and honesty within the veterinary practice.

For practices that dispense stock, an ESOP can be a valuable way to incentivize employees to sign onto the veterinary practice and work toward its success. ESOPs aren’t an option for every practice, and should be carefully considered before they’re implemented, but can transform a veterinary practice’s culture for the better.

Training a New Veterinary Employee

by easyDVM

Training is essential to help your new veterinary employees get up to speed in your practice. Training not only helps your employees to avoid making mistakes, but also gives them confidence when interacting with clients and caring for patients. Use these steps to help your new employees learn how to perform important tasks in their new role.

1. Structure Your Training

When training a new veterinary employee, it is important to use a structured training program. Throwing too much training at a new hire all at once is likely to lead to them forgetting important information. Plan the new employee’s training to span a period of several weeks so they have time to learn new skills without feeling overwhelmed.

2. Instruct

Every veterinary practice has its routines and protocols. Rather than throwing your new employees into their roles, take the time to instruct them in the tasks you want them to perform. Provide every employee with instructions they can consult whenever they need to check a protocol.

3. Watch

Many people are visual learners. Watching an experienced employee perform a task gives new hires a chance to pick up tips. Get your team to demonstrate as many procedures as possible during the first few days or weeks of a new hire’s employment. If it is not possible or practical for employees to watch your team carry out every procedure in person, consider using training videos to instruct your new hires.

4. Practice

Employees can’t learn how to do everything perfectly from instructions and demonstrations alone. Give all new employees a chance to practice what they have learned under the supervision of a more experienced team member. This period of practice is essential to let employees ask questions and allow the experts to correct their mistakes.

5. Monitor Progress

Do not assume that all employees will perform perfectly after an initial training period. No one can remember everything perfectly, particularly when they have to take in a lot of information at once. Be sure to review new employees’ performance regularly so you have the chance to correct any mistakes they are making. Be sure to conduct this monitoring in a way that helps your employees feel supported, rather than making them feel like you are waiting to punish them for any error. Always give new team members praise for the things they get right as well as correcting their mistakes.

6. Training Never Ends

Training a new veterinary employee is important, but education should not end when the new hire becomes an established part of the team. Continuing education can benefit all your veterinary employees. Support your veterinarians to meet their continuing education requirements. In addition, remember to check in regularly with your technicians and other employees to find out whether they want any further training. One way to do this is to have an annual or quarterly review meeting with every team member, during which they can discuss their training needs and their goals for the review period.


Training a new veterinary employee is not always easy, but by using a carefully structured training program, you can give all your team members the best possible chance of success. Use the tips given here and remember to check in with your new employees regularly to ensure the success of your training program.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.