Too often, company culture is like a bad romance; it starts out hot but later fizzles when other distractions get in the way. Like any lasting relationship, though, an enduring company culture requires a continuous investment of time, effort, and attention. Sure, it’s important to identify and record your cultural values, but words without action are just letters on a page. Culture—at least the kind you want—doesn’t just happen on it’s own. It’s up to you to start the fire and keep it burning. Here’s how:

1. Live your values. The author of this 7 Geese article summed it up perfectly: “Leading by example is the best communication tool any leader possesses.” If you don’t demonstrate buy-in of your own values, how can you expect any of your employees to do so? Conversely, if your cultural values govern your day-to-day actions and behaviors, the people around you will follow suit. And if they don’t—well, then it might be time to reevaluate your hiring practices. Let’s say you value open communication and honesty. In that case, you wouldn’t keep secrets or talk behind people’s backs. Appreciate hands-off management? Then you wouldn’t hover over your employees’ shoulders and critique their every move. You get the picture.

2. Let culture guide your personnel decisions. Speaking of hiring practices, if cultivating your ideal culture is truly important to you, it should play a pretty big role in the way you hire, fire, and review your staff. (For more on the reasoning behind this idea, check out this blog post.) This might require you to take a step back and consider each one of your staff members in a new light. It also might require you to make some tough decisions. This article offers the following example: “...if being ethical is one of your core values, it would be detrimental to keep an employee who is cooking the books, no matter how well he is doing his job.” Hopefully, though,  your hiring, training, and review processes are well aligned with your culture so that it won’t come to that.

3. Bring people together. Culture is contagious, and your values—whatever they may be—will stick better in a team-oriented environment where employees continually feed off of each other’s energy. But often, the best kind of team-building happens outside the confines of your office walls. That doesn’t mean you all have to be best friends, but every once in a while, you should try getting together off the clock— perhaps for a team lunch, a team happy hour, or a team potluck. Last summer, a pair of physical therapists from Lakeside & Polson Physical Therapy even trained together for a relay triathlon. (They also set up a table near the finish line where race participants could pick up a coupon for a free consultation—talk about killing two birds with one stone.)

4. Make it a game. People love games. Why? Because they’re engaging, fun, and challenging—all things we humans naturally appreciate. As Adam Penenberg, author of Play at Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking, says in this Forbes interview, “Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Deloitte, Sun Microsystems, IBM, L’Oreal, Canon, Lexus, FedEx, UPS, Wells Fargo, and countless others have embraced games to make workers more satisfied, better-trained, and focused on their jobs as well as to improve products and services.” In fact, gamification—applying elements of game playing into other types of activities—is one of the hottest trends in human resources today, especially the kind of gamification that reinforces your company culture and rewards those who embody your cultural values.

At WebPT, for example, we promoted our health and wellness core value with a company-wide step challenge in which teams of employees used pedometers to track the number of steps they walked over the course of eight weeks. At the end of the contest, the top ten teams received prizes.

5. Recognize rather than incentivize. As the author of this article explains, incentives reward the “what,” whereas recognition rewards the “how.” For example, let’s say you offer an incentive of $500 to the first therapist who brings in five new patients. What happens after a therapist’s fifth new patient makes an appointment at your clinic? Chances are, your therapists will stop investing so much energy into their marketing efforts. But if you instead consistently recognize therapists who put forth extra effort to serve the community that keeps you in business—by volunteering at a local sporting event, for example—those therapists are much more likely to keep up the good work. Furthermore, they likely will inspire other employees to engage in similar behaviors and activities, thus upping your clinic’s visibility within your market. So, in the end, the entire practice wins.

By the way, when it comes to recognition, slapping a photo of your practice’s “Employee of the Month” on the wall above the coffee maker isn’t really what we’re talking about. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw that concept out the window completely—just tweak it to make it more meaningful and more relevant to your company’s core values. For example, you could choose a different value each month (or each quarter, if you’re in a small office) and have all of your employees vote for the colleague they feel best represents that value. You could then reward the winning employee with a prize or an office lunch in his or her honor. Another example: Every month, we here at WebPT dole out prime parking spaces to employees who best exemplify our core values.


How do you foster—and maintain—culture within your practice? Have you tried any of the above methods? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

PT Billing Secrets: 5 Things Payers Don’t Want You to Know - Regular BannerPT Billing Secrets: 5 Things Payers Don’t Want You to Know - Small Banner
  • 4 Reasons Your Staff Therapists are Unmotivated Image

    articleJun 7, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Reasons Your Staff Therapists are Unmotivated

    Treating patients is equal parts challenging and rewarding, which is one of the reasons physical therapy is such a fulfilling profession . But if you’re noticing that your therapists’ motivation is lagging a bit, it’s important to understand why. Here are four reasons why physical therapists’ motivation can decrease, as well as steps you can take to make things better.   Their compensation is based solely on productivity. The Problem Nobody likes being reduced to a billing …

  • Hiring for Cultural Fit Image

    articleJan 21, 2014 | 7 min. read

    Hiring for Cultural Fit

    If you’ve been following our blog posts this month, you might’ve noticed a recurring theme—besides company culture in general—and that’s the importance of hiring the right people for your practice. From the cost of recruiting, screening, and interviewing to the cost of onboarding and training, hiring is a huge investment for companies, and if you don’t hire the right candidates, it can come at a big expense. According to a 2012 CareerBuilder poll , 69% of companies …

  • Employee Engagement: Your Most Important Business Initiative Image

    articleJul 5, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Employee Engagement: Your Most Important Business Initiative

    What single business initiative can make your employees want to work harder for you, while inspiring them to be happier than ever with their jobs? Hint: The answer is not more money . The answer is increasing employee engagement . This is possibly the single most important part of an owner or manager’s duties. To tackle this job, we must start with creating unparalleled company culture . Wikipedia defines company culture as “the character of the organization; …

  • Four Ways to Maintain Company Culture as Your Practice Grows Image

    articleJan 20, 2014 | 6 min. read

    Four Ways to Maintain Company Culture as Your Practice Grows

    Your clinic is growing. Not a bad problem to have. But a growing practice does pose some challenges when it comes to maintaining your already great company culture. In fact, it poses quite a few challenges. After all, it’s easy—well, easier—to create and keep a cohesive culture in a small, core team. Once you start forgetting names, however, it’s a whole different story. There’s hope, though. Here are four ways to maintain company culture as your practice …

  • Up and Leave: What to Do When a Therapist Quits Image

    articleJun 26, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Up and Leave: What to Do When a Therapist Quits

    Breakups are never easy. Even if it’s an amicable split, it’s hard not to look back on your time together and wonder what could’ve been. But here’s the good news: if you approach a breakup from a place of maturity and wisdom, you can learn some valuable lessons and apply them to your next relationship. Of course, the relationship I’m referring to in this post is the one between a rehab therapy practice manager and his or …

  • Four Ways to Fix a Broken Company Culture Image

    articleJan 16, 2014 | 6 min. read

    Four Ways to Fix a Broken Company Culture

    So, you read yesterday’s post , and maybe, just maybe, a red flag—or eight—jumped out at you, felt a little too familiar, or possibly even gave you the chills. And now, you’re beginning to worry because you’re seeing signs that your culture isn’t up to snuff everywhere—in your front office and your treatment area, with your suppliers and your patients. Well, set your worries aside. Of course, a less-than-stellar culture isn’t ideal, but there’s still hope—and time—to …

  • Creating a Culture Commitment: How to Document Your Practice’s Core Values  Image

    articleJan 14, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Creating a Culture Commitment: How to Document Your Practice’s Core Values

    Yesterday, I explained the importance of establishing and defining your practice’s core values —the foundation of your company culture. At the end of that post, I asked you to identify your practice’s core values and jot down rough definitions for each. Today, I’ll discuss how to document those values and their definitions in a well-written, easily distributable format. Why Before I leap into the how, though, I want emphasize why you should document your practice’s core values. …

  • Year of the Monkey? More Like Year of Metrics Image

    articleJan 7, 2016 | 7 min. read

    Year of the Monkey? More Like Year of Metrics

    Welcome to 2016! As we kick off another year of informative blog content, the Chinese zodiac calendar also resets—and 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. Those born in monkey years—including yours truly—are said to possess such character traits as cleverness and curiosity. We monkeys are playful, and we thrive on challenge. The monkey is just one of 12 Chinese zodiac signs, though, and each sign has its own characteristics. (You want to research your sign now, …

  • 4 Factors Affecting Your Physical Therapist Salary Image

    articleJun 15, 2015 | 5 min. read

    4 Factors Affecting Your Physical Therapist Salary

    Physical therapists are empathetic by nature. As such, most didn’t get into the PT profession to make bank. That being said, empathy doesn’t pay the bills. Luckily, the impact you make on your patients’ lives actually does. You get paid to treat patients. Now, how much you get paid—i.e., the salary you receive from your place of employment—to treat those patients depends on a lot of factors. Let’s examine: 1. Location, Location, Location As expected, where you …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.