How to Hire an OT Who Won't Quit After a Week

Sep 25, 2019
7 min read
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We've all been there. After months of searching, you finally hire a new employee, only for them to quit. Read this article to learn how to hire an employee that will stay at your practice for years to come.

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There is nothing more frustrating than spending significant time, money, and resources to hire a new employee, only for them to quit after one week. Throughout the hiring process, many employers become desperate to fill an open position. This results in hasty hiring, improper training, poor employee satisfaction, and high staff turnover. Here’s how to FIND and KEEP a quality therapist.

Step 1: Recruitment

Hiring a lasting asset to your therapy team begins with locating and recruiting a pool of qualified candidates. Begin thinking about what type of employee you need or want to hire that fits your budget. Is it a new graduate who you can mold? A seasoned therapist with years of applicable experience? A therapist with experience, but not in your particular setting?

The occupational therapy world is small. But, there’s a possibility that your current staff may know a reputable therapist looking for a new opportunity. Some companies may take on therapy students, who are likely eager to find employment after graduation.

Outside of your existing network of therapists, you can use a reputable job posting website to market the position. For more information on where therapists are looking for jobs, check out our job posting platform.

Step 2: Resume review

After using the resources mentioned above, you will start the process of reviewing resumes and vetting potential candidates. It is difficult to determine whether someone is the “right fit” on paper. You can look for clues to help determine a candidate’s reliability and potential value. First, review the therapist’s job history. Red flags include multiple jobs over a short period of time or long gaps without employment. According to Forbes.com, the number one resume red flag is a history of job-hopping. These clues may not be not deal-breakers, however, they are beneficial to discuss during the interview phase.

Reflect back on the criteria identified in step one to narrow down potential applicants. Ultimately, the candidate you are looking for must fill the void and be a good match. Make up for the amount of training and time you’ll dedicate to getting them up to speed.

Step 3: Interview process

The best way to determine whether a potential employee is a good fit is by implementing a multi-step interview process. You can start with a phone interview to get to know the candidate and identify any red flags. A phone conversation should be followed by at least one face-to-face interview. It is helpful to have multiple managers or a small panel of valued employees involved in the interview process. Ask the obvious questions about clinical skills, experience, and competency. In addition, ask them about career goals, learning style, and/or anticipated mentorship needs.

Have a potential employee meet with and shadow a handful of staff prior to hiring. This helpful step is fairly unique to the therapy industry. Have them shadow a current employee to get an idea of what working at this job will be like. This is crucial in determining whether or not a candidate will mesh well with the personalities of the team and culture within the department.

Remember, to ensure employee retention, he or she must be able to perform this particular job, feel comfortable interacting within the department and understand the job expectations. Ask the candidate for feedback about his or her experience and perception of the work environment and job requirements. This not only helps the candidate to make their own decision about the job and their overall comfort with the position, but also helps the organization determine if the candidate meshes well with other employees.

Step 4: References

Check references! Hopefully, former employers, educators, and colleagues will provide you with an honest and accurate depiction of a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and clinical competency. Calling one of the candidate’s references could uncover another question to ask them or highlight any inconsistencies with their resume.

Step 5: Hiring

Once you have selected a person to join your team, the next step is to hire them. During the hiring process, be upfront. Provide the new employee with a clear description of their job expectations and training schedule. Explain compensation and benefits, which will be further reviewed during orientation. The more information provided during the hiring process, the less risk of a change of heart. Potential ways to ensure longevity and staff retention include: a sign-on bonus and/or contract for employment, an incremental bonus structure, or any other incentives based on months or years of employment.

Step 6: Company orientation

A new employee should be properly oriented to the company and/or facility. Again, review compensation, benefits, bonus structure, holiday and weekend expectations, PTO, policies, and facility procedures. Provide a tour and introduce the new hire to important staff members in various departments. The more comfortable your new employee feels in his or her work environment, the more welcome and prepared he or she will be. Andrew Doyle, COTA, with Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital says that having “supportive and welcoming coworkers, a clean work area, and fair and justified compensation” is essential to satisfaction in a new job.

Step 7: Department orientation

The number one way to keep an employee from quitting after a week is to provide adequate and thorough orientation to his or her department and specific job. This includes mentorship, a clear timeline of development, detailed expectations, and proper training. All new employees should be matched with a mentor who is compatible to the new hire’s experience level, learning style, desired level of supervision, and personality. Jaime Sanchez, Doctor of Physical Therapy, states that “having a mentor you feel comfortable with as a point of contact is a major part of early job satisfaction.” New graduate, Madison Mitchell, OTR/L claims that “having a mentor and/or a supportive group of therapists at your disposal is the most important thing that a new employee or new grad can have.”

Additionally, determine whether or not this employee needs clinical versus administrative guidance or both. Gradually introduce the employee to job requirements with a smooth ramp-up of responsibilities. All newly hired therapists should have a specific action plan of education and training, as well as a timeline of expectations.

Step 8: Follow up

Keep your new employee happy by following up and following through. Request and provide feedback about the training process and progression. Schedule incremental performance reviews with tangible rewards. Communication, incentives and feedback is essential to prevent employee turnover. The Wall Street Journal provides a great guide to employee retention.

The process of finding, hiring, and keeping a new employee is fairly straight-forward when following a few key concepts. Ultimately, making the employee feel comfortable, welcomed, valued, and properly trained is crucial to his or her commitment to your team. Through proper vetting, thorough training, dedicated mentorship, and open communication, you can find a therapist who truly enjoys working for you. Employee satisfaction is important for staff retention, and with a plan in place, you can ensure that they won’t quit after the first week.

https://covalentcareers.com/hire-occupational-therapists
About Devon Figgins, MOT, OTR/L

Devon Figgins, OTR/L earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration from Penn State University, State College PA. She has a Master of Occupational Therapy degree from Chatham University in Pittsburgh PA. Originally from Camp Hill, PA, she now lives in Sarasota, FL. She has over 6 years experience working for Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota (inpatient rehabilitation), formerly Health South.


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