After running a large staffing company for 10 years, placing physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists I was able to draw correlations between what I did that worked and why. It became evident that there were only a few workable solutions that were effective when completing the task of hiring new staff but none were more important than these four actions.
A majority of private practice owners start off on the wrong foot when looking for staff and therapists, and it’s hard to recover from recruiting missteps. Here are four successful strategies for recruiting, interviewing, and hiring that will ensure staff retention.
1. HAVE THE RIGHT MIND SET
Be true to yourself by making sure that your approach is being honest and transparent with your feelings, beliefs, and purposes for what your business stands. You must know with total certainty what type of individual would be a compliment to your group, not just simply filling an open seat. It’s been recorded on surveys that the millennial generation value the ideals of making a difference and being a part of something larger for the greater good of others. Yes, they have their moments of unrealistic expectations and sometimes lack of appreciation that prevents them from taking the other’s point of view, but generally they want their careers to align with their purpose.
2. THE MOST TALENTED PEOPLE DON’T ALWAYS LIVE IN YOUR ZIPCODE
You must be comfortable hiring from outside of your zip code. Meaning a telework program is a must when it’s a fit for the type of work you are trying to fill. Also, recruiting from outside your market is another way of fulfilling this key strategy.
If working from home is an option, you need a telework policy in your Policies & Procedures manual. Make sure the teleworker signs off on that policy so that they are clear it is to be followed to the letter before they get sent home. You will need to provide equipment which should be returned at their cost should they leave your practice, otherwise the cost of new equipment will be deducted from their last check. They must agree to use:
- Zoom for video conference calls (or similar program),
- Hubstaff, to track their every mouse movement and screen shot their work throughout the day for full accountability along with weekly stats that they are responsible for turning in each week.
Telework is growing increasingly popular and can attract some really talented people. Of course not everyone can telework in your clinic. You also need to find the best and brightest clinicians to join your team.
Clinicians, like other staff members, may not live in your neighborhood, so run ads in other cities. Focus on areas where there is a saturation of clinicians who are being either overworked or underpaid as a result of their geography. Areas like Jacksonville, FL and Baltimore, MD have plenty of therapists, while upstate NY, and NJ have a saturation of doctor of physical therapy schools with flatter wages and fewer opportunities for new grads. This region also struggles with low reimbursement rates that often results in clinicians treating more patients per week than other areas. Thus, it is essential that we start expanding our approach to include these new hiring practices.
3. UTILIZE THE FIVE-PHASE HIRING PROGRAM
You owe it to your existing staff to preserve the company culture by bringing in only those that are going to truly add value to your group. We recommend the following phases to ensure a thorough vetting process of your candidates.
- Phase 1: Knowing exactly what type of ad to write and where to post it.
- Phase 2: Resume review and phone screen.
- Phase 3: INTERVIEW DAY and this involves every member of your office. Everyone must play their role in interview day if we want to increase our likelihood for success. These roles must be practiced and the most likely questions to be asked rehearsed with your staff.
- Phase 4: The sit down interview. It is vital that they we retain our place in this phase throughout so that at no point in time does the candidate take control of the interview. Consider your practice is a private golf course and you can only get on by invitation only. As the owner you must carry yourself with the attitude that they would be lucky to get an offer from you for employment. This attitude is critical and will be the single biggest deciding factor on your closing rate of good talent.
- Phase 5: “The Close.” During this phase you must know what concessions you are comfortable with offering in counter to their requests for a concession. Make sure your approach here is that of a conversation not a negotiation. The more conversational and friendly your mannerisms are, the better the outcome. Never let it come down to wages as a reflection of self-worth. Compensation is never a reflection of ones worth, so be strong and clear in how you communicate your salary offer. Make it clear that every position comes with a pay range and a salary cap. Most of all, never enter into this phase until the candidate has agreed with you that if you are able to make ends meet, that they would be willing to accept the position right now or by this time tomorrow.
4. EXCHANGE IN ABUNDANCE BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY
Immediately following the new hire hand shake, tell the new hire what they should expect to receive from you as a result of their employment here. Tell them that in two to three years after working with you, that your goal is for them to say they made the right decision coming on board with your company. You want them to be able to honestly say they have grown professionally and personally. When your staff know that you are committed to their well-being in terms of personal growth and professional development, you are more likely to retain them. So how can this be done?
Tips to Retain Your Best Employees
- Contribute to student loan reduction payments through programs such as Gradifi.
- Offer retirement benefits. A Simple IRA with 3% matching, is easiest, most flexible, and lowest cost.
- Offer a flexible work schedule. Avoid 4 ten-hour work days though, stick to five days per week.
- Provide internal training programs for ambitious staff to move up within the company.
- Implement an employee incentive program for those who what to make more income.
- Have one-on-one employee appreciation meetings on a monthly basis to show that they are valued and appreciated.
- Do annual employee reviews. This is an opportunity to guide their performance each year so that they are constantly improving and feeling vested in the group.
If you have questions about this or other best practices for pt private practice management, download our ebook to get more tips and tricks. Want help with hiring? Our Managed Services division helps dozens of private practice owners staff and manage their clinics, contact us directly to learn more information.
Brian Gallagher, PT is the founder and CEO of MEG Business Management, LLC. He has more than 27 years of experience in the field of rehabilitation and 19 years in business and specializes in Physical Therapy practice management and executive coaching nationwide. As a licensed business management consultant, Brian has helped hundreds of business owners nationwide improve their business operations through proper restructuring to achieve improved systems of efficiency and productivity as well as marketing and sales with effective public relations which have proven results for double-digit growth year-over-year with businesses around the country.