Employee retention needs to be a priority for physical therapists to maintain a high level of efficiency in their practices. Your practice can’t run like a well-oiled machine unless you have the right staff members. However, many physical therapists find themselves caught off guard when their best front-office employees decide to accept a job somewhere else.
Hiring new employees is a costly, time-consuming process, especially in specialized fields like health care. According to CBS News, it often costs 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary to recruit a new hire. This figure is true of any worker who makes $50,000 or more per year, which is approximately 40 percent of the U.S. workforce. The expenses add up from lost productivity while a position is vacant or the length of time it takes a new hire to get up to speed. Unlike other industries, health care may have an even higher cost of turnover because patient care may decline when there are open positions in your clinic.
The high risks of turnover
When an employee leaves your practice, other team members will have to pick up the slack until a replacement is hired. If positions stay vacant for too long, it adds more stress to current employees, which impacts overall patient care. For physical therapy in particular, patients may have their choice of other clinics in the area, so your practice’s profits could decline. Turnover is a serious concern, and physical therapists need to emphasize retention so the practice doesn’t suffer.
As the economy continues to improve, practice staff members have more choices in where they take a job. During the recession, employed workers may have been more likely to stay in one position because there were few openings, but many clinics have ramped up their hiring. There are many reasons employees choose to move on, but you can proactively improve employee retention rates.
Help employees keep their skills relevant.
Conduct stay interviews
Many human resources managers conduct exit interviews when employees give their notice, but it may be a good idea to approach retention more proactively by holding regular performance check-ins with team members. You can treat these meetings as “stay interviews” to ask employees what they like most about working at your clinic or how they would like to see it improve. Encourage employees to be honest about their most significant challenges and accomplishments.
It can be difficult to hear negative feedback, but it often leads to positive changes within your organization and helps you hang on to your best workers. Employees want to feel as though their opinions matter. In addition, it’s hard to curb internal issues if you don’t know what they are.
Offer salary increases
While raises alone won’t increase staff retention rates unless you have other strategies in place, it’s important to offer competitive salaries. If employees start looking for new jobs and see a similar position elsewhere that is offering more money, they may ask for a raise. Even if you have a tight staff budget, it may be a good idea to honor this request because a 5 percent raise could be less than the 20 percent of an employee’s salary that it would cost to hire a replacement.
It’s crucial to recognize your top performers. Letting them know how much you appreciate them makes a huge difference in retention efforts. In addition, you need to discuss their goals with them. This process creates career development paths for your best and brightest workers. Having these opportunities makes a big difference for skilled, ambitious staff members. Offering continuing education for employees boosts their skill sets and helps keep their training relevant to the changing demands of the physical therapy field.
You also need to be more proactive about dealing with low performers. Employees who don’t meet workplace expectations can damage the morale of your entire team. Although it may be challenging to deliver negative feedback, it may help low performers improve, benefiting the entire workforce. Be specific about what employees need to change and help them set goals.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.