Finding and Keeping Great Employees


Understanding the basic principles of human resource management.

By Kim Stamp, PPS Certified Administrator

Success in private practice, in many ways, depends on your ability to recruit and retain the best employees to participate in your company’s mission. Here are a few strategies for recruitment, staffing, and the onboarding process, as well as employee engagement tools that you can implement in your clinic to help you flourish for years to come.

One of today’s hottest topics in human resources (HR) is how to recruit desirable candidates. In my work with the Washington State Physical Therapy Managers Association, we frequently talk about how difficult it is to attract good candidates. Here are a few suggestions that I gleaned from speaking to our HR director:

  • Stress your brand: Stand out from the competition by clearly defining your mission as a company. People want to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Effectively branding yourself may entice others to join your team. Part of your branding process might be allowing new hires to have some input regarding their schedules. Millennials, in particular, have a high desire for work-life balance, and the ability to be flexible with their schedules will go a long way in your negotiations.
  • Offer creative compensation: Look beyond the salary you offer and consider offering an attractive benefits package that includes ample time off, health care benefits, and some sort of profit sharing. Virtually every new physical therapy graduate asks about loan repayment programs. Consider offering a cash payment toward a student loan in 3-, 5-, and 10-year increments.
  • Capitalize on technology to target ideal candidates: Take the time to write a compelling ad for any opening you might have, and then utilize several outlets to publish it. LinkedIn,, and even Facebook are great places to start.

Now that you’ve recruited your dream candidate, it’s crucial that you have a positive and thorough onboarding process. This process is much more than making sure your new employee knows how to get into your electronic medical record (EMR) system, and what their schedule is; it is your best opportunity to orient them to your company’s values, internal marketing strategies, and your expectations of them. I actually begin talking about these things in the interview process so there are no surprises down the road. We want our new staff members to feel like part of the team, and we want to minimize any unnecessary stress that arises when we are unclear about expectations and culture.

I would encourage you to have an onboarding checklist that includes everything from ordering business cards and laptops to how to request vacation and the payday schedule. Most of our onboarding paperwork is completed online, but I usually spend about an hour going through all of these details with a new employee before I transition them to their clinic director for orientation. One of the things I emphasize is the importance we place on the patient experience at every point during the treatment continuum.

The biggest threat to a great onboarding experience is our busy schedules. You absolutely must place a high value on the process and carve out time in your schedule to do it successfully. If your new people feel valued on their first day, they will be more likely to begin engaging immediately and will also be more likely to ensure that your patients are well cared for. I would encourage doing a 90-day review with all new hires. This gives you the opportunity to address any concerns and allows the employee time to ask questions. After the 90 days, schedule annual reviews with your employees to assess their performance.

Employees tend to stay in a job where they feel positively engaged. There is so much to consider when talking about how to engage employees, but if it is important to you to retain your best employees, you absolutely must care for your employees in ways that matter to them (note that I did not say “to you”). To be an effective manager, you need to get to know your employees and understand what motivates them, what inspires them, and what demonstrates value to them.

Millennials, for instance, like the excitement of new challenges. If you have a lot of younger people on your staff, look for ways to change things up for them; for example, asking them to create a new program for patients or to represent your company at a job fair. Consider motivating your staff with incentives for reaching measurable goals.

The success of our clinics depends on our ability to find, and keep, excellent employees. Take some time to evaluate your current process, from advertising an opening to providing a thorough onboarding experience, and find ways to improve your company’s ability to succeed by taking care of your greatest resource—your people.

Kim Stamp is the regional business manager for South Sound Physical & Hand Therapy in Olympia and Tacoma, and the president for the Washington State Physical Therapy Managers Association. She can be reached at

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