Every good boss wants to ensure that he or she is paying his or her employees enough—in most cases, more than enough—to cover the cost of living and prevent financial worry from getting in the way of job satisfaction. But with many rehab therapy students graduating with massive debt—and fee schedules on the decline—it can be difficult for a rehab therapy practice to properly pay staff and keep enough money in the practice to remain in business. Just like any budget decision, salary decisions are a balancing act. Yet, your staff is hands-down your most valuable asset. And without a stellar team, you’re not going to be able to provide the quality of care that your patients have come to expect. Thus, those decisions deserve some added weight. Here are three tips to help you ensure you’re paying your rehab therapy staff—that is, your therapists, therapy assistants, office personnel, and executives—enough:
1. Base decisions on merit—and data.
When making salary decisions, wise employers factor in the market value of a given role in a particular region as well as the objective qualifications that a particular candidate has—or, the results that a particular employee has been able to achieve in his or her role (think: outcomes data and patient loyalty scores).
As for what the data says, WebPT’s most recent industry survey found that more rehab therapists earn between $60,000 and $80,000 a year than any other salary range; and more therapy assistants earn between $40,000 and $50,000 than any other salary range. However, that doesn’t take into consideration regional differences or benefits packages. (To see gross annual salary information for other roles, including clerical, managerial, and executive, download the report in full below.)
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3. Factor in benefits.
Benefits are a huge part of the salary equation—and a high-value benefit package can go a long way in hiring and retaining top talent. It can also help you ensure you’re providing commensurate value to your staff if you really can’t budge on actual salary numbers. As I wrote here, when WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, was a clinic director, “she paid for her staff’s APTA dues and continuing education units—and that was in addition to providing standard health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance.” According to Jannenga, “a good benefit package satisfies the needs of your employees and puts your company at a competitive advantage to other similar companies in your market.” If you’re wondering what else is on the table during a salary negotiation, check out the list I provided in this article.
3. Schedule regular performance—and salary—reviews.
Regular performance and salary reviews ensure that you’re having consistent conversations about employee performance and potential raises. This type of honest discussion will will hopefully keep you and your employees on the same page regarding their performance and how it relates to their compensation. You can also use these reviews to set performance milestones—or specific goals—for staff to achieve in order to receive a bump in salary, a bonus, or some other form of compensation incentive. As John Wallace, PT, MS—WebPT’s Chief Business Development Officer of Revenue Cycle Management—advises in this post, “Clinical effectiveness should be a performance review factor.” This especially makes sense as health care moves toward more value-based payment structures.
(If you’re concerned that a particular performance review may be on the challenging side, check out these tips for handling difficult performance conversations.)
There you have it: three tips to ensure you’re paying everyone on your staff enough. And if you haven’t already downloaded your free copy of the 2018 Rehab Therapy Salary Report, what are you waiting for? It’s chock-full of some really interesting salary trends for all rehab therapy roles—including the average dollar amount that graduating students expect to receive in their first job out of school, which can be incredibly useful information if you’re looking to hire a new grad.