November 18, 2019 | Net Health

3 min read

Recruiting and Retaining Millennial Therapy Staff in Your Outpatient Practice


Let’s face it, millennials get a hard rap these days with words like “entitled” and “lazy” being used to describe this generation, which broadly includes those born between 1981 and 1996. These perceptions are not only unfair in their characterization, they’re especially unhelpful if you’re trying to understand how to recruit and retain the best therapy staff in your outpatient practice.

Here are two key facts to know about millennials:

– They’re now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce (Pew research)

– They’re also the most likely to job-hop: 43% envision leaving their jobs within two years, and only 28% are looking to stay beyond five years. (Deloitte survey)

It’s evident from the data that building a competitive, thriving business means looking beyond the myths to truly understand what motivates this generation. In our recent webinar, therapy industry expert Dr. Christopher Keating dove into some of the beliefs and values that millennials bring to the workplace, and shared key strategies you can use to successfully engage them in your practice.

Focus on Job Satisfaction

Understanding the unique millennial mindset—and how to develop a corresponding strategy to retain them—starts with an evaluation of job satisfaction. As Keating explained, research has shown that millennials actually come to the job with high satisfaction and expectations, and very low intentions of leaving compared to previous generations. The difference is that they’re far more likely to take action to leave a job when satisfaction levels go down. The older Generation X, on the other hand, is more likely to stick with a job through the ups and downs.

Bottom line: If millennials don’t see a growth path for themselves or feel undervalued, they’re more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.

How do you gauge job satisfaction and improve it for your millennial therapists and practice staff? Keating outlined a number of key strategies, including:

Tracking Data

Metrics you’re tracking in your EMR system and other tools can provide valuable insight into how your millennial therapists are performing and whether they’re engaged in your practice. By capturing the following clinical and operational metrics, you can start to have more meaningful conversations to address any issues, motivate your teams, prevent attrition and develop their skills as professionals. Examples include:

– “Patient Satisfaction Scores” and “Functional Outcomes” in your outcomes management tool

– “Arrival vs. Cancellation Rates,” “Reasons for Cancellation,” “Visits Per Therapist” and other clinic data in your EMR

– Therapist participation in company picnics, parties and community events

Work-Life Balance

Millennials value a work-life balance. They want more flexibility and may be willing to take a pay cut to achieve it, along with a higher quality experience in the workplace. As a practice owner, it might be worth evaluating how you can cost-effectively provide that. For instance, perhaps your therapy staff would be amenable to receiving a lower salary in exchange for more vacation time and other benefits, such as a comprehensive employee wellness program and greater flexibility and intelligence around scheduling.


Millennials seek constant feedback, support and recognition in their career development. A great way to provide this is by offering mentoring opportunities, either by creating a structure for mentoring within your practice or partnering with an external organization or expert. Depending on what you’re looking to do, it may be more cost-effective to outsource instead of having your leadership invest the time and money. Programs like the ABPTRFE (American Board of PT Residency and Fellowship Education), for example, have built-in mechanisms designed to give millennials the feedback and structure they need to feel value and advance in their careers. Residency and Fellowship education has expanded at an exponential rate over the last decade—providing PTs with valuable clinical and evidence-based skills. Ultimately, mentoring programs can go a long way toward improving job satisfaction and creating happier, more productive therapy staff.

To learn more strategies for building a successful millennial workforce in your outpatient practice, watch the webinar: Recruitment and Retention of Outpatient Therapy Staff in a Millennial World

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