Well, you’ve made it through the first summer post-COVID. (Please take this moment to pat yourself on the back.) But in all seriousness, due to the events of the past year, you’ve undoubtedly instituted a fair amount of change within your clinic(s) to ensure your patients’ and therapists’ safety—as well as your clinic’s viability. However, now that things have begun to settle down, it’s time to shift your weight from your heels and take the necessary strides toward ensuring long-term success in this new normal. And this starts with your people.
The Changing Workforce
Even if you haven’t heard of Anthony Klotz, the associate professor who coined the term the “Great Resignation,” you might be feeling what he describes. After so many months in lockdown, people are re-evaluating their lives and making big changes. Many are asking themselves:
- “Do I really want to live in this place?”
- “Do I really want to do this job?”
- “Do I want to be closer to family or work less or…?”
Even clinics I work with that have high employee experience scores and long therapist tenures are receiving resignations. While there is no one reason attributable to why people make decisions about how, when and where they work, it is your responsibility to get clarity on the differences between an employee leaving for a legitimate career change (one that coincides with new life choices) and an employee leaving because they’ve been disengaged in their work for some time. You especially owe this introspection to the people who are choosing to stay—and make no mistake, it is a choice to stay.
So, while you can’t prevent everyone on your team from seeking out new opportunities, you must take stock of the feelings and needs of those who remain. The way to prevent mass exodus is by ensuring people are engaged and empowered in their work. To do so, clinic leaders should consider “reboarding” their team.
Reboarding At a Glance
Reboarding is an organizational strategy to help realign your team—including those who have been with you forever, those who are new, and those who may have recently returned to your clinic. It’s a way to help each of your team members settle down from the mad dash of trying to get the clinic back on track. More than that, reboarding can help the team be open to new ways of doing things.
Reboarding your entire team can be a fantastic way to:
- Revisit—and reimagine—your clinic’s mission and vision, as well as firm up its values, and the behaviors that demonstrate those values;
- Determine how to support employees and patients in realistic and sustainable ways;
- Explore alternative operational and business models to realize success in this new normal; and
- Refocus efforts and energy toward a people-first (not patient-first) mindset.
Steps to Reboarding Your Team
Similar to when you first onboard new hires, you need to align and inspire everyone, ensuring they have the tools they need to be successful not only in their clinical care, but also in the post-pandemic world. Reboarding your team is an opportunity to reimagine your practice. After all, while we all have things we love about our work, there are always things we would like to change and feedback we’ve yet to implement. Rather than continuing to say, “we’ll figure it out” while half expecting the solution to fall into your lap, take the necessary actions to determine what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do differently to build a brighter future for your organization.
To do so, I recommend the following steps:
- Confirm the “why” of each staff’s position and how they all link together. Ensure any silos that may have been built this past year are brought back down to help remind people of how their role connects to the larger picture.
- Ensure everyone has the tools they need for their job. While you may think they do because “we’ve been fine this past year,” ask anyway. You might be surprised.
- Develop individualized plans for ongoing professional development. Ask yourself—and your team—what new skills they might need to move forward in this changed world.
- Foster connections among the team. While you have done what we needed to do to get by, therapist’s connections to one another (and their patients) might have become strained. People need time to reconnect with those who they’ve known for years, as well as to welcome new team members.
- Monitor your performance. Frequent check-ins to ensure you are doing things that add value to the team. Are you listening to their concerns? Are you open to new ideas?
We’re still in a wild time of change—and it will take a focused effort from your entire team to emerge from this stronger than before. Take this as an unprecedented opportunity for you and your team to come together. And I don’t mean just around the day-to-day operational stuff, but the stuff that connects to the true “why” of your organization. Reboarding can not only help you and your team take the next steps forward together, but can also help reignite those who’ve been with you through one of the most trying times our generation has experienced—and I think that’s pretty exciting!
Want more help growing your practice by growing your people? Check out my book, “People First: A Proven Method for an Exceptional Healthcare Practice,” launching on August 24, 2021. Focused on strategies to redesign your practice as well as your leadership, this book will:
- Empower your teams and align them to your clearly defined organizational mission, values, and goals;
- Enhance communication and trust among team members and decrease staff turnover;
- Eliminate employee and leadership burnout and improve patient satisfaction; and
- Boost profit margins and design a sustainable strategy for growth.