Gratitude Strategies to Enhance Team Retention

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You’ve hired great people. Do you know how to keep them?

By Jamey Schrier, PT, DPT

I don’t have to tell you the price you pay for high turnover in your clinic.

Or do I? We all know constant hiring can be a major hassle. But in my
experience, practice owners sometimes underestimate just how disruptive,
expensive and damaging turnover really is.

In our industry, we’re experiencing an incredibly competitive market for
physical therapists, as well as for aides and assistants. And expert
administrators are always in high demand. No private practice owner can afford
to be in constant hiring mode. You need to find great people and be able to
keep them onboard.


With both hiring and retention systems in place, practice owners spend less
time having to hire, and more time working with an energized, cohesive team.
Your focus stays on the mission of your business — not on patching holes in
your organization. The longer your employees remain with your clinic, the more
they know, the more they can contribute, the more value they have.

That’s value delivered to your patients in seamless, exceptional care. It’s
also a value that goes right to your business’s bottom line. Building a
business that better serves not just your patients, but also your employees,
is the best way to grow your profit.

What does a physical therapy retention strategy look like? It’s built on a few
key fundamentals: communication, trust, and opportunity. Developing trust and
alliance with employees, communicating frequently and with transparency, and
providing opportunities for growth and challenge are places all private
practice owners should start.



The opportunity for advancement is a huge incentive for employees to accept
jobs, and a big reason why they stay — or leave. A recent LinkedIn survey
found that concerns about lack of advancement was the single most common
reason employees changed jobs.1

Advancement can mean promotion, expansion of responsibility, and management
opportunities. It can mean training in new skills and new technologies.
Advancement is also found in a culture of learning that’s integrated
throughout your practice and attached to every task your employees undertake
day after day. Encourage your team to ask questions. Give them a supportive
forum for examining errors and knowledge gaps so that everyone can learn and
improve. Promote a growth mindset that prioritizes learning in your clinic.


The annual sit-down to discuss employee performance is awkward, outdated, and
doesn’t work. It can actually do harm, depressing employee morale and turning
owners and employees into adversaries, rather than the allies you need to be.

A better practice? Stay connected to your employees through ongoing
conversations about their work. You’ll be alerted to issues that need to be
addressed before they become crises. You’ll put yourself in a position to
support your employees toward success in a more meaningful, collaborative way.
Commit your time and effort to engaging in real dialogue on a regular basis.
Ask open-ended questions. Listen actively. Respect and reward honesty and
transparency in your employees.


Leadership issues are another big reason employees jump ship. In the LinkedIn
study stated above, dissatisfaction with leadership and management was second
only to lack of advancement as the reason employees changed jobs. Your
leadership defines your organization and its culture. If your leadership style
is reactive, if you lack focus and clarity about your practice goals and
methods, if you don’t know when to get involved and when to step back, you
will send employees looking in other directions.

Take a close, honest look at your leadership habits. Leadership is a skill,
just like any other. As business owners, we need guidance and training in
leadership skills just as we did in developing our clinical skills.


Everyone leads in a slightly different way, and you have to develop a style
that feels natural to you. By staying true to your personality, goals, and the
way you relate to people, rather than taking a 180-degree approach to be the
opposite of who you truly are, benefits you and everyone around you in the
long haul. A leadership style that is increasingly popular is servant

Servant leadership is a popular management style that emphasizes teamwork,
collaboration, and putting the needs of employees first. Servant leaders
believe that by focusing on the well-being of their team, they can create a
more productive and positive work environment.

There are many benefits to servant leadership, including improved employee
morale, increased productivity, and reduced turnover. In addition, servant
leaders often find that their employees are more engaged and motivated, and
that they have a deeper sense of loyalty to the organization.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your team’s performance, consider
giving servant leadership a try. You may be surprised at the positive impact
it can have on your organization.


It’s important to show gratitude to your employees for a number of reasons.
First, it helps them feel appreciated and valued. Feeling appreciated is a key
factor in employee satisfaction and engagement, which are both crucial to
maintaining a high-performing workforce.

Second, expressing gratitude can improve workplace relationships. When
employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to trust and respect their
managers, and they are more likely to cooperate and collaborate.

Third, showing gratitude can improve employees’ motivation and productivity.
Studies have shown that expressing gratitude makes people feel more positive
and motivated, which can lead to better performance at work.2

Finally, thanking your employees sends a strong message that you value their
contributions. This can help build a culture of appreciation in your
organization, which can make it an even better place to work. 

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1LinkedIn Learning. “New Research Reveals the Real Reason People Switch Jobs” Published August 5, 2015. https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/real-reason-people-switch-jobs

2Schwantes M. “Why People Continue to Quit Their Jobs, Backed by Research.” Published March 21, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-people-continue-quit-jobs-backed-research-marcel-schwantes/

Jamey Schrier, PT, DPT

Jamey Schrier, PT, DPT, is the CEO of Practice Freedom U and can be reached at jamey@practicefreedomu.com.