Staff Recruitment and Retention

By Allyson Pahmer

In a white paper released in January of this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) investigated the difference in labor market activity—job openings, new hires, and separations—among 20 different industries and found that health care was one of a handful of industries where job availability far exceeded the number of new hires. Not only was that true for the reported, actual data they studied, but BLS also projects 5 million new jobs in health care between 2012 and 2022 and forecasts the compound annual rate of change—that is, the calculation of job openings, hires, churn, and fill rates—at 2.6 percent, the highest of all industries, tied only with construction.1

It is probably not news to any of us that the aging of the U.S. population will result in an increased need for health care workers to care for these seniors, as well as the need to replace those health care workers who are “aging out” of the workplace themselves. Physical therapists will be called on to assist this population with rehabilitation and wellness services in numbers and volumes we have never seen, and today’s physical therapy students are likely looking at a healthy employment future. 

But the availability of health care employment opportunities tells only one side of the story. I have heard from many Private Practice Section (PPS) members how difficult it is to find qualified, dedicated workers for their clinics and businesses. Survey information collected at this year’s PPS Annual Conference only reinforces these anecdotes. When asked, “What problems or issues would you like PPS educational programs to address?”, write-in responses included “recruiting the right staff,” “managing across generations,” and “cultivating a service-oriented workforce.” Nearly half of the 114 submissions the Annual Conference Program Work Group looked at fell into the human resources and practice management categories (although I will admit that this collection of submissions skewed much more to practice management than to HR, about 5 to 1). 

For those of you seeking assistance in this area, you have come to the right issue of Impact. And if you are looking for help from past issues, the Human Resources Compendium of Impact articles is a resource you must have on your shelf. The Compendium offers a concise resource for topics ranging from recruiting and hiring to mentoring, from compensation to equity arrangements, from communication skills to leadership development, and much more. 

Do not overlook the other resources your Section has to offer year round. Programming at past Annual Conferences is archived on the PPS website, as are some of our past webinars like “Independent Contractors vs Employees: What You Need to Know,” “10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review,” “Retaining Key Personnel through Deferred Compensation Strategies,” and “Riding the Waves Without Getting Wet: How to Introduce and Manage Change in Your Practice to Get Better Results.” 

As we look ahead to this year’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas, October 19-22, think about sending your office staff to participate in the Administrator’s Certificate program. This 3-day, 13-hour curriculum is designed for the non–physical therapists on your payroll and is a complete immersion into marketing and customer service, human resources, business operations, legal compliance, financial management, and billing and coding. 

Finally, the granddaddy of PPS guidance, “Private Practice: The How-To Manual,” delivers on its promise to be a concise guide for physical therapists who are considering opening a private practice—and, I would add, for those who already have their own practice and could use a little help with, say, writing a business plan or revenue cycle management. The section on “Managing Human Resources” is an invaluable resource in payroll, credentialing requirements for insurance, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, employment policies and procedures, insurance and other benefits, compensation, and retention.

We hope these and other PPS resources help you build the best, most committed, and loyal staff you can. If we are missing something, please do not hesitate to let us know. 

1. “Which industries need workers? Exploring differences in labor market activity,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2016. Accessed March 2016.

Allyson Palmer
Executive Director, PPS


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