Pet Boarding & Daycare

5 Ways to Keep Staff Motivated to Show Up (And, Be on Time!)

5 Ways to Keep Staff Motivated to Show Up (And, Be on Time!)

By Laura Laaman

Running a pet care facility is totally dependent on having reliable, caring and conscious employees. And the more pets we care for, the more employees we need. 

We all know how challenging it currently is to attract good employees to your pet care facility, but thankfully it’s more than possible. However, once you’ve found and onboarded high-quality staff members, it’s another battle to keep them. Here are five ways to ensure your staff remains reliable and punctual. 

1. Create the right culture, starting with the hiring process.

Pet care is not like many entry-level positions. When an employee doesn’t show up for their shift at a fast-food restaurant, customer service certainly suffers and undue stress is put on other team members. But, in pet care, the consequences are even worse. As we know, pets wouldn’t get the same care as they would if you are fully staffed. Explaining this to potential employees is an important first step in creating a committed employee culture. 

Chances are your employees joined your company out of a love for pets, and making it clear that the pets rely on them to show up can go a long way. Including a letter from the pets’ perspective in the beginning of your employee handbook explaining this is a good reminder. 

2. Look for a good work ethic.

I was raised by a World War II veteran, so having a strong work ethic is second nature to me. Boy, are we living in a different era! If you feel it’s harder to find employees with a strong work ethic, you’re not alone. However, there are signs of a lackluster work ethic you can spot during the hiring process.

Pay attention to the candidate’s job history. Have they jumped between numerous jobs in short periods of time? This can be a sign of someone noncommittal. Have they earned any special recognitions or accomplishments in their professional or personal life? That’s a good indicator of a stronger work ethic. 

On the job, signs of a good work ethic include respect for others, treating their mistakes like learning experiences, and the ability to focus without getting too distracted by things like their cellphone or chatting with coworkers. Praise and foster a good work ethic where possible.

3. Pay above average. 

The work force attracted to pet care is often entry-level; however, wage expectations among entry-level workers increased sharply during the pandemic. The high stimulus payouts inflated the perceived value of many people’s time, and the unprecedented competition in the hiring market boosted starting wages across all industries. While it is understandable that you may feel you should pay less for a pet care tech without much experience, times have changed. The new reality is, when you pay above average, employees think twice about sleeping through the alarm. They’ll also be less likely to be lured to another job if you’re paying more. 

4. Discipline fairly and clearly.

Even with the most promising new hires and healthiest workplace culture, you’ll occasionally need to discipline employees for being late and missing shifts. For example, if you or your managers allow an employee to be late without any consequences, you are essentially guaranteeing the same behavior will occur again. The other employees will notice your lackluster approach to timeliness and will likely do the same; or, worse yet, other standards you uphold may suffer. 

Employee discipline can take many forms, including but not limited to:

Most infractions will benefit from counseling and training delivered in a helpful, understanding way. If the behavior continues, progress to the verbal or written warnings. Some offenses are serious enough to warrant suspension or termination. Consulting with a labor attorney in your state is a wise investment to help navigate the ever-changing labor laws. 

5. Issue timely bonuses for a job well done. 

This part is going to be rough on those of us with a strong work ethic. When you do have an employee arrive on time and not miss a shift for a while, I suggest you consider providing a meaningful bonus. You’re probably thinking, “So paying the employee an hourly wage isn’t enough? You want me to give them a participation trophy?” Well, kind of…

What’s valuable to employees right now? With gas being as expensive as it is, gas bonuses are a relatively inexpensive and meaningful motivator. Consider offering gas cards to employees who arrive punctually to all of their shifts for a period of time. This is especially beneficial during holiday periods. It’s a simple and effective practice that shapes better behavior since you’re only giving gas cards to those who are on time and don’t miss a shift. 

It’s important to have a system that tracks exactly what time employees show up. I recommend a facial recognition system so an employee can’t punch someone else in. This way you can most accurately monitor punctuality and only reward those who earned it.

With these small steps, you can make a big impact on improving staff attendance, punctuality and workplace culture. 

Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care and we now offer guaranteed and discounted recruiting services for the pet care industry. If you’re interested in our pricing assistance, labor ratio guidance and hiring help, or any of our other proven services, scheduled a consultation by calling 1-888-735-5667 or visiting