When you’re looking to hire a new physical therapist, you clearly want to find the best one possible: someone who is competent, committed to lifelong learning, conscientious, and caring.

During the the search process, you probably pore over average salaries in your area, doing everything you can to ensure you’re providing a competitive payment and benefit package. After all, most PTs want the best possible compensation, right?

Well, that’s partially true. With the cost of education skyrocketing, physical therapists certainly look for high salaries to help pay off those looming student loans. But there are other things that many PTs—especially millennials—want in a job. If you’re expecting to attract the best therapists—and retain them for the long haul—consider adding these perks to your employment package:

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1. Flexibility

You’ve probably noticed a major shift in the workforce recently. People are more and more attracted to contract, travel, and short-term roles, and telecommuting and flex jobs are all the rage. It’s been dubbed the “gig economy,” and it represents a huge change in how professionals are approaching their careers.

Luckily, physical therapy employers can provide plenty of flexibility, as long as they’re willing to be creative. This flexibility can come in the form of schedule shifts, opportunities to work overtime for additional pay, and the ability to work reduced hours for reduced pay. Here are a few options:

Multiple Schedule Options

Consider offering different options for getting in the standard 40 hours a week—like four ten-hour days or three ten-hour days plus one weekend day. You can also have therapists work four nine-hour days with every other Monday or Friday off. Another option is to provide weekend swaps with PTO reward: for example, a PT works six hours on a Saturday in exchange for eight hours of PTO (or a full weekday off).

Flexible Concept of Full-Time

If you allow your full-time therapists to work 32- or 36-hour work weeks, you’re more likely to retain employees. PTs are people, too—and as such, they occasionally need to see the doctor, go to the bank, and travel to see family. Allowing just a few hours of wiggle room each week can make a huge difference in their quality of life.

Overtime Opportunities

Look into a policy for automatic approval of up to four hours of overtime per pay period. This keeps therapists from feeling used and frustrated when they inevitably get stuck late documenting or dealing with patient satisfaction issues that pop up.

PT’s Version of Work-From-Home

A telehealth wing of the company can allow therapists to treat remotely, thus improving their work-life balance.

2. Mentorship

If you’re looking to attract new-grad PTs—or even experienced PTs who are interested in changing settings—consider offering mentorship opportunities. A good mentorship program is:

  • Structured;
  • Goal-oriented;
  • Consistent; and
  • Bound by finite beginning and end points.

Even if you’re not looking to hire fresh PTs, having a culture of transparency is key. If your therapists readily observe each others’ treatments and are expected to provide inservices on con-ed courses, you’re contributing to lifelong learning.

3. Advancement

Today’s PTs are attracted to the profession in part because of growth potential. New PTs see the job market as a place to grow their personal brands.

If you can provide opportunities for advancement and growth, you’ll be more likely to attract the best PTs (and keep them around for the long haul). Here are some ways to provide advancement for your therapists:

  • Title changes (e.g., moving from PT I to PT II after three years);
  • Creating lead positions in therapists’ areas of expertise; and
  • Offering tracks into business development, marketing, or leadership roles.

Another good perk for growth-oriented PTs is offering company support for specialization. For example, you can provide reimbursement for study materials, exam fees, or certifications costs.  

3. Company Culture

Millennials want to feel like they are part of something bigger, but they also want to experience a tight-knit, family-like environment at work. Company culture is very important to most newer PTs, so consider some of these ideas to make your employees feel more like family than cogs in the machine:

Birthday Celebrations

When someone has a birthday, make it a policy to provide a cake, give a gift card, or throw a potluck. Even if you have a large team, you can celebrate an entire month’s worth of birthdays in a single event. But be sure to do something.

Community Service Credits

If someone wears a company t-shirt and uses your clinic’s hashtag at a community service event, they can earn extra hours of PTO.

Recognition

When someone on the staff marks a major accomplishment or life event, be sure to recognize (and celebrate, when possible) their achievements.

4. Non-Clinical Opportunities

More than ever, physical therapists are looking at their careers as living, breathing, changing organisms. PTs want to know that they can work in this profession for many years—and that even if they wish to leave patient care, they’ll still have employment options. That’s why offering non-clinical opportunities is so enticing to physical therapists.

Marketing

Get your therapists involved with marketing. Today’s PTs are very savvy and can often contribute to your social media marketing, content creation, and physician outreach plans—if you give them the opportunity to do so.

Research

Offer therapists the opportunity to participate in—and lead—clinical studies in your clinic.

Project Coordination

Allow therapists to take the lead on coordinating volunteer events, planning lunches, and hosting con-ed courses.


Next time you start looking for a new therapist to add to the team, consider adding the above perks to your workplace. You’ll be sure to attract the top PTs if you’re able to make them feel appreciated, provide flexibility, and foster growth opportunities.

Meredith Castin, PT, DPT, is the founder of The Non-Clinical PT, a career development resource designed to help physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals leverage their degrees in non-clinical ways.  

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