How to Prevent Physical Therapy Staff Burnout

You’ve likely heard the phrase “It takes a village!” before. Nowhere is this more evident than in the private practice physical therapy setting. Having staff who are enriched and validated is one of the four keys to a successful and long lasting career in private practice ownership. 

There are many ways to ensure your team maintains productivity and stays fully engaged. No, you didn’t go to school for personnel management, but it isn’t rocket science if you invest in the appropriate training. However, you the owner, must fully commit to the health and well-being of your team to prevent staff burnout. With staggering statistics about burnout and job satisfaction, knowing how to keep your staff engaged is key to preventing burnout. 


You as the practice owner must remain calm in all situations and have the confront to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said in good manners. We know this is not necessarily easy when emotions are high. In any given day, a private practice owner can face a multitude of challenges surrounding personnel management – from communication challenges to productivity. Regardless, you must remain calm in the face of these challenges. Volatile emotion and mood swings will do nothing but create apprehension in your staff and will soon lead them to looking towards a less stressful work environment. Having the ability to manage and confront the day to day challenges reasonably while holding true to yourself and the purpose of the group will garnish respect from your team. 


You know your staff are hard-working and you respect them personally and professionally – otherwise why would you have invited them to join your group? However they do not own the practice. If they wanted to be an owner they would be an owner! Many owners treat their practice as a democracy, however this does not work. You will end up swimming in a sea of disappointment and angst over unrealistic or unmet expectations. This disappointment leads to the emotions and mood swings discussed above and can often lead to high turnover rates. 


Lastly, have fun in your offices. Create a culture that is fun and engaging so your staff enjoy coming into the clinic. We all know that most full time employees spend more time with each other than they do with their own families. If the employee is not having fun, the road to burnout and job dissatisfaction will happen before you know it. Creating a fun and engaging in the workplace can happen in a variety of ways: patient and staff contests, theme days, staff lunches where the staff gets to choose the food, and special music days are just a few ways to put fun in the practice. We also recommend quarterly out of the office social or community outings. These out of the office events can be great for team building, relationship development, and will lead the employee to have a feeling of friendship and home when they think of their place of employment. 


Employees want more than anything to feel validated and engaged as professionals. Validate your team for a job well done at monthly staff meetings, and have a bonus structure to reward those who go above and beyond. Furthermore, having a career development training program within the clinic for ongoing professional enhancement is a great way to continue to enhance your staff professionally so they feel as if they are becoming a better professional. Without validation, chances are your staff are going to feel like cogs in a wheel instead of members of a team who have been handpicked to join the group.

Most think that burnout in the physical therapy profession is inevitable. We are a caring profession, a profession where we expend our mental and physical energy on our patients every day to restore their physical function. However, taking care of your team and creating a workplace that they are invested in the success of will not only help them avoid burnout, but you will have a practice where therapists are begging to be a part of your team. 

If you need help with setting expectations among staff, managing personnel, or any other physical therapy practice owner issue, please contact us to find out how we can help put you on the pathway to the private practice ownership career of your dreams!

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