Effective Recruiting Strategies

Chairs with lightbulb above

Handling the recruitment challenge head-on

By Steve Stalzer, PT, MSPT, MBA

Whether you own a single clinic with a few staff or dozens of clinics and hundreds of employees, effective recruitment and employee retention are critical to the success of your business.

Developing a better recruitment plan by forecasting your hiring needs and having an ideal candidate profile will allow you to focus on the best strategies to attract the strongest talent to your team. Although our industry has embraced evidence-based clinical practice, few owners apply similar strategies to improve the results of recruiting efforts. This article outlines seven steps to improve your recruitment strategy.

Understand the Numbers

Effective recruitment is an investment in the growth of your business and likely has a substantial return on investment (ROI). According to the 2019 PPS KPI Benchmarking study, the average therapist generates $277,000. If your practice generates a 15% profit margin, that equates to more than $40,000 in annual profit. Although it’s smart to hire at the lowest cost possible, spending $10,000 to hire a productive therapist generates a positive ROI within a few months.

In addition to knowing the financial and ROI numbers, it’s also helpful to assess annual staff attrition rates and projected growth so you can estimate the number of staff that you’ll need to add to your team and start building a recruiting pipeline in advance. It can also help to look at historical turnover to determine if you’re more likely to have staff turnover at a specific time of the year, such as early summer, shortly after school is out. Knowing your average time to fill each position (the number of days between when you need a therapist and when the therapist starts treating patients) is also essential to shifting toward a proactive recruitment strategy that allows you to select the right candidate rather than hiring during a shortage.

Assess Past Successes

If you don’t currently track how candidates find out about your openings, consider polling existing staff about how they found you. Begin tracking this by position and referral channel, as in Table 1. Expand your recruitment channels to reflect how staff and candidates are finding out about your company. Comparing leads with successful hires can be valuable in separating which channels result in hires over just candidates.

Assess The Data

Look not only at the channels that have been effective but also at the ones that have not. Although your goal is to determine which channels find the best employees, it’s just as helpful to clarify which ones aren’t worthwhile. If possible, calculate your cost per hire by channel as well. If you’ve spent $10,000 on PT-specific advertising over the past five years and have hired three therapists from this channel, your cost per hire is $3,333.

Identify your ideal employee

As simple as this sounds, identifying the values and characteristics you’re looking for can be an incredibly helpful exercise, especially if you explore this question at a time when you’re not in urgent need of hiring the first candidate that walks in your door. Assess your company values as well as your top-performing staff to define the characteristics that create the makeup of your ideal employee. Looking at unsuccessful former staff can also help you identify who to avoid when hiring. Traits such as initiative, accountability, humility, effective communication skills, empathy, and being a team player are examples of characteristics that you may decide to intentionally recruit.

Build a Budget for Recruitment Costs

Hiring is an investment in the growth of your company. If you maintain key financial ratios and productivity expectations, each new hire should generate additional revenue, profit, and a significant increase in the value of your practice. At times when hiring is a larger barrier to growth than marketing, consider shifting a portion of your marketing budget to recruitment. At the end of the day, effective recruitment is an essential investment if you want to grow your practice.

Establish a Candidate Selection Process

Getting more candidates at the right time has little effect if you can’t convert quality candidates into new staff members. Create a unique interview process that allows you to assess the traits identified above while also “selling” your practice to top candidates. Introduce candidates to patients and have them spend time with your best staff. Interaction with others is often more revealing than just running through your top 10 interview questions, and it’s more likely to leave a positive impression on the potential staff member. When you identify a great candidate, don’t wait. If a top-notch clinician is on the job hunt, they’ll likely have multiple offers in hand. Go ahead and flatter your number-one choice by taking immediate action. Keep track of your conversion rate (offers accepted as a percentage of offers made). Consider strategies that will improve the likelihood of staff accepting your offer over another. Competitive pay and incentives are helpful, but a fun and supportive work environment are often even more important for job seekers today.

Action Steps

1. Assess your numbers. Shift your view from recruiting as an expense to recruiting as an investment to grow the value of your practice.

2. Determine you most effective recruitment channels by position. If you have a small practice, consider partnering with other clinics to share data to expand your sample size.

3. Indentify ideal traits and create unique content to be used in your top channels.

4. Build a budget for recruiting.

5. Establish a successful selection and interview process that improves your ability to land great candidates.

Steve Stalzer

Steve Stalzer, PT, MSPT, MBA, is a PPS member and practice consultant specializing in M&A Advisory and Strategic Growth. He can be reached at steve@8150advisors.com.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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