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5 Employee Retention Strategies for Physical Therapy Practices

Learn how you can maintain your top-performing physical therapists and help grow your business with a strong employee retention strategy.

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In an era titled "The Great Resignation," the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a whopping 4.2 million people quitting their job in June 2022 alone. Job sectors across the board, including healthcare and physical therapy, have faced ongoing labor shortages that have made seamless operations increasingly challenging.

Ongoing labor shortages have become especially troublesome in the physical therapy space, which is expecting higher than average workforce growth in the years to come. Once combined with the recent implications of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), there's never been a better time to invest in your PT staff's satisfaction to encourage strong employee retention.

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What is Employee Retention?

Employee retention refers to a business or organization's ability to prevent employee turnover or the number of staff members who leave their job in a specified period. Employee retention efforts focus on mitigation strategies to eliminate barriers to continuous employment within an organization and help to avoid the operational risks associated with high turnover rates.

Employee retention is one of the keys to creating a successful and patient-preferred PT practice. Quality employee retention strategies help create an enjoyable, rewarding workplace that influences employees to stick around and continuously provide quality services to patients. Not to mention, it's significantly less expensive to retain employees than it is to recruit, interview, hire, onboard, and train new employees.

How to Retain Physical Therapy Staff: 5 Employee Retention Strategies

When a physical therapy practice encounters a decline in employee retention, failure to implement the appropriate strategies could result in a staff that's strapped for resources, a decrease in PT service quality, and an overall loss of revenue. To retain physical therapy staff, follow these five strategies.

1. Pay Your Employees a Competitive Salary (duh!)

In such an employee-driven market, one of the first things you can do to retain physical therapists better is to offer a competitive salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a physical therapist in 2021 was $95,620. This is an excellent figure to remember when constructing your position offerings and should be compared to similar local salary offerings.

Alongside your initial salary offering, you may consider using a performance-based initiative to drive high-quality treatment and encourage strong employee retention. Performance-based salary plans are preferred by small to medium-sized practices to split an employee's salary by 90% guaranteed pay and 10% performance-based pay. Employee KPIs, including total patient visits, billed units, and reimbursement amounts, can be used to calculate this 10%.

2. Offer a Robust Benefits Package

Outside of competitive salary offerings, a physical therapy practice can drive employee retention by offering a robust benefits package. Studies have shown that roughly 78% of employees are likelier to stay with an employer because of their benefits program. In today's competitive PT job market, benefits packages have advanced beyond health, dental, and vision benefits and a 401K plan.

On top of personal and family health benefits, more professionals are seeking comprehensive wellness benefits, including mental health resources, gym memberships, and even pet health solutions. Investing in these unique benefits offerings can encourage current staff to remain on board and help your practice stand out from the competition when looking to fill a position.

Another benefit package component to consider is the payback of student loans or continuing education costs. With nearly 90% of recent physical therapist graduates possessing student loan debt, offering loan payback and continuing education coverage as a part of your benefits package is a great way to increase employee retention. To develop the best benefits package possible, consider asking current employees what benefits are essential to them.

3. Develop a Positive Work Culture

While a competitive salary and benefits package is a great way to obtain new employees, long-term retention will rely on the presence of positive workplace culture. Stressful workplace environments will make or break an employee's decision to remain with your practice and impact the quality of services offered to patients. A recent FlexJobs study discovered that "toxic company culture" was the number one reason individuals quit their job in 2022.

To combat toxic company culture and encourage employee retention, start by developing a feedback system that can be applied in your workplace to best address any areas of concern. Use these details to build strong relationships with staff members to encourage employee satisfaction and workplace comfortability. Be sure to also continuously recognize these team members and the workplace achievements they brought to the practice.

Further, address unnecessary workplace stress by considering the reduction of overwhelming administrative tasks. The incorporation of practice and patient management solutions is an excellent way to reduce employee workloads and automate day-to-day administrative needs to provide employees with more time to focus on what's important — the quality of patient care.

4. Offer Opportunities for Career Growth

A recent Monster employment survey discovered that 80% of workers do not think their current employer offers growth opportunities. Offering minimal growth opportunities can be detrimental to employee retention rates, as many PT professionals will seek employment opportunities that allow them to learn and grow within the practice.

To increase employee retention through career growth opportunities, work on creating a workplace culture that encompasses mentorship rather than the micromanagement of employees. Practice managers must encourage staff to ask questions and guide team members in practice areas where they could use help. Managers can promote from within when it's time for career advancements.

5. Highlight the Meaning of Your Work

A contributing factor to poor employee retention is an employee's loss of motivation and drive in the physical therapy space. While this type of work can sometimes be a bit difficult (especially after a global PHE), physical therapists need to be reminded of why they are part of this field — to provide patients with quality care that can help improve their quality of life.

To better encourage employee retention, help employees get to the heart of why they entered this profession in the first place. Remind employees of the seven core values of physical therapy they connect with most, from compassion and caring to excellence. Even initiate a morning meeting to share recent patient wins to reignite employees' motivation and passion for physical therapy.

The Bottom Line: Now You Know How to Keep Employees Happy

Maintaining overall employee satisfaction is the key to encouraging strong employee retention. When you invest in these five employee retention strategies, you can create an employee-preferred practice for both veteran staff members and incoming hires. Continue to alleviate common barriers to retention with trusted practice management software, like MWTherapy.

MWTherapy's practice management software can help streamline day-to-day employee workloads, from time-consuming administrative tasks to stress-inducing ICD codes, to allow your staff to get back to maintaining top-tier patient care. Schedule a demo today to learn how MWTherapy can help boost your employee retention

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