In 2011, the entire WebPT team sat in a conference room (we were a much smaller team back then) to reflect on the previous year—what we did well, what we wanted to improve upon, and what our goals were for the new year. One of those goals? Define and document who we were and wanted to be as a company. In other words, our company culture.

So, the following year, in that same conference room, we poured WebPT’s heart and soul out onto a giant whiteboard and distilled that down to our core values. From there, we developed our team commitments and documented them in a handbook every new hire receives during training. Today, we all know each and every commitment backwards and forwards. They are guiding principles in our hiring criteria, performance review process, strategic planning, and pretty much every decision that we make at WebPT.

And we aren’t the only ones focusing on company culture. Over the last decade, company culture has become much more than merely a buzzword; it’s become a heavily researched business strategy. As WebPT writer Erica Cohen points out in this blog post: “According to this article, Gallup found that lost productivity resulting from employee disengagement costs the US more than $300 billion a year…Another Gallup study found that employees’ feelings about an organization can actually predict future business sales and profits.” And if that’s not persuasive enough, this should be: I’m currently reading Firms of Endearment, which thoroughly examines the effect of company culture on business. The book’s authors demonstrate how businesses that are loved by their employees, customers, suppliers, and community (basically, everyone) are more successful (read: profitable) than those that aren’t universally adored.

The research clearly shows how crucial company culture is to a business, and that includes rehab therapy practices. Now more than ever—in this age of regulatory change, reimbursement uncertainty, and compliance anxiety—it’s easy to become burdened by our own fears and lose sight of what we ultimately want to achieve in our practices. That’s why it’s imperative we take the time to define and document our rehab practice’s core values. Reflecting on your clinic’s beliefs, goals, and leadership styles provides a foundation upon which you can establish clear expectations. This allows your team to blossom and flourish personally and professionally, thus, improving retention, and ultimately, helping you to grow your business. In short, the culture you establish will set the tone for your practice’s business going forward. After all, happy, loyal employees are better employees, which in turn creates improved patient interactions.

By documenting our culture, we have not only set the stage for our employees to flourish, but also helped define our brand to the world. This year, I’m challenging you all to do the same for your clinics, and we’re here to help. After all, it is The Year of the Employee. That’s why this month’s blog and webinar theme is Cultivating Company Culture for Your Practice. We’ll define company culture and share a plethora of helpful advice, including how to establish your core values, how to document your culture, how to hire for cultural fit, and how to share your culture online and with your community. I can’t think of a better way to kick off 2014.

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