Happy Employees Make the Best Employees

Happy Faces

Increasing retention rates starts with hiring exceptional staff.

By Holly Dorr, BS

A physical therapy clinic’s most important resource is its employees.

We all know that the secret to a successful clinic is hiring and retaining only the best—those who believe in your brand and sell your service confidently and passionately. It’s a simple concept: Hire exceptional staff and then ensure their retention at your practice to ensure your practice’s success.

Easier said than done, right? How often do we hire the “perfect” candidate only to have them leave for greener pastures, usually to a competitor? The answer: way too often! And what do we do then? We start the whole process over again (and it’s always a production), which takes us away from revenue-generating duties and obligations. We have to search for new candidates, schedule interviews, interview, schedule second interviews, interview again, choose a candidate, schedule training, and then complete the procedure for orientation! Ugh! And all the while we lose out on precious time spent generating profits.

I am unaware if an official poll has been taken, but I can imagine that if we asked administrators what their biggest frustrations are, the majority would include personnel issues and complaints, which make it difficult to maintain a friendly, open-door attitude for their current employees.

Does it seem like letters of resignation are only ever submitted on the busiest, most stressful of days? How do you continue to put 100 percent into your job duties and obligations when you are ever mindful of the “extra work” you now need to prepare and complete, all before your employee’s last day, which is only a short two weeks away? We’ve all been there, and the question that is always asked in hindsight is, “Is there a way to avoid this situation from happening as often?” The answer is yes!

By following a few basic personnel rules with the primary objective of increasing employee retention, your practice will experience decreased employee turnover, as well as the correction of many other employee issues and complaints that stem from unhappy staff members.

1. Don’t underestimate resources

It is frustrating for employees to be expected to complete tasks for their job without being given the appropriate tools to do so. Employees in these situations feel as though their quality of work is lacking and therefore they are not living up to their full potential. For an individual who takes immense pride in their work, this is potentially a very harmful situation.

2. Allow the employee to have a specialty

It is important to have a well-rounded clinic that offers a variety of services and treatment techniques. Allow your employees to learn and understand how to complete all of the job duties entailed in their job description, but also discuss with them what they love most about their job. Ask them what they do best, and then allow them to specialize in that task or role and possibly help them with additional education if it’s appropriate. This individual approach tells the employee that they are singularly important and uniquely necessary to the success of the practice.

3. Provide proper orientation

Provide the employee with an orientation binder with all of the information they may need to perform their new job. This information should include the practice’s policies and procedures, employee job description, orientation quizzes and prep material, and clear expectations of the employee from the practice. New hires are jumping into a scary new world when first starting out, and clear direction is always appreciated. Too many hires end in failure due to lack of proper orientation.

4. Prevent burnout

How often in your own job do you experience the inevitable and dreaded “burned out” feeling? If you feel it, you can guarantee everyone else does as well. In a busy, bustling clinic it sometimes seems like there isn’t enough time for even a simple “thank you.” Create an atmosphere of thanks and gratitude. Have each employee create goals for themselves and reward them when they succeed in reaching their goals. It is also important to stress that rewards need to be earned—do not create an employee mindset of expecting rewards even when job expectations are not met.

5. Create and maintain a family environment

This is possibly both the easiest, and hardest, rule to follow. Truly care about your employees and understand that work is only a small part of their lives. Try not to ask too much of them, aside from what is expected, so that they do not have to sacrifice their home lives. Always ask them about their weekend and take the time to listen; don’t just make it a formality.

By following these five simple rules, you will help to ensure higher employee retention and will inevitably abolish the majority of your personnel problems and complaints allowing you to focus your efforts on clinic growth and increasing revenues. Generally speaking, happy employees make the best employees, and having the best employees makes owners happy!


Holly Dorr

Holly Dorr, BS, is a PPS Administrators’ Network member and is the clinic/business manager of Gillette Physical Therapy in Gillette, Wyoming. She can be reached at hdorr@gillettept.com.