Physical and Occupational Therapists and their Assistants are some of the hardest to fill jobs in the nation. With physical therapists experiencing only a 1.2% unemployment rate, finding your next therapist usually involves an expensive and time consuming search process. With the current shortage of therapy professionals, your therapists are bound to be approached by other rehab providers inquiring about whether or not they’d be interested in hearing about other job options.

And, according to a recent Gallup Workforce Panel study, fifty-one percent of those currently employed regularly think about looking for a new job. After all, It’s always good to keep your options open, right? But many employees are not just thinking about leaving, they are actively searching for their next job. CareerBuilder estimates that more than one in five employees are actively searching in hopes to leave their current employer in this coming year. Not only that, but the same study stated that in 2015, 34% percent of individuals who were employed were “regularly searching for a new job” –even if they didn’t really NEED the new job.

Reasons for Job-Hopping

Thankfully, this Gallup study, also gives us some insight into why employees become job hoppers.  According to this study, employees give two main reasons for switching jobs: “It allows me to do what I do best” and, “It significantly increases my income.” When asked how important both of these criteria were for new employees who were considering to take a new job with a different company or organization, 60% strongly agreed that they thought about whether it allowed them to do what was best, while only 40% said it strongly agreed that the consideration of greatly improving their income was a factor.  In summary, this Gallup poll found that people were searching for a new employer in order to find a position that suited them and their skills better.

Job satisfaction isn’t only about great pay and benefits. Yes, compensation plays a large role in communicating to your employees how much you value them, but more even more importantly, your physical and occupational therapists and speech language pathologists want to work in areas that utilize their unique gifts and skills. Of course, your employees’ gifts and talents don’t always line up with the needs of your clinic. However, investing the time needed to really understand your employee and meeting with them to figure out ways to adjust their work load or move towards their career goals can help them stick with a job, even one that’s not a perfect fit.  And it’s worth the effort on both sides of the desk. This Gallup study suggests that it may take about 10 years to work your way into a job that really matches your strengths.

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The 10-Year Advantage

Although job-hoppers have an “initial boost” of productivity when in the “honeymoon” period of their new job, this boost drops between 3-9 years. According to the Gallup study, “Companies seem to focus more on fostering the development of newly hired employees than their longer-tenured workers,”  which is unfortunate, as those who have been with a company longer than 10 years know what is expected of them, and are talented in what they do.

A therapist’s career usually evolves in 3-5 year time blocks. The journey from new grad to pain specialist may have many twists and turns. Offering flexible hours is the best tool for keeping employees who are adjusting their careers to new life stages, such as parenthood or retirement. If you can, finding part time hours or starting a specialty treatment center for an experienced employee makes sense.

Cultivating a Long-Term Workplace

So what is the solution to keeping therapists so that they stay until their “sweet spot” of doing what they do best? There are several ways to encourage employee loyalty. The report done by Gallup offers some common sense ways to encourage long-term employees:

  1. Help employees understand their expectations at work, especially those new to the job.

  2. Cultivate employee strengths early on in the career.

  3. Invest as much time and energy in your established therapists as you do your new therapists.

The Cost of Replacing Therapy Staff

Investing in your employees pays off. Not only do you avoid the great financial loss of an replacing an employee–you are also able to maintain a team dynamic and a thriving company culture.  According to  U.S. News and World Report, between missed billings and recruiting expenses, replacing an employee can cost up to 150% of a their salary.

Maybe you have experience with this issue. What keeps your therapists from leaving? What are the critical factors that create job satisfaction in your clinic? Whether you are a therapist, looking for your next job, or a Director of Rehabilitation or a Hiring Manager, trying to maintain a great work environment, we’d love to hear your opinions. Please share in the comments section below. Thanks!

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