SUGGESTIONS TO ENHANCE
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
All therapists, particularly those in a rural setting and those who are new to the paediatric practice area, rely on professional support from colleagues. Mentorship is a strong determinant for recruitment and retention of therapists. Provincial resources such as Sunny Hill Health Centre and regional resources such as larger child development centres can be potential sources for mentors for your employees. Foster mentoring relationships for your employees with a variety of experienced professionals so employees have a network of experts to reach out to. Mentorship programs may also be available through professional associations and other agencies, or you can set up your own mentorship program to meet the individual learning needs of your therapists. This might include site visits, shadowing or rotating through another facility. You may need to consider budgeting for mentorship support, as some formal mentorship programs are offered on a cost-recovery basis. Time must also be allocated within the therapist’s workload to provide opportunity for the mentorship relationship to be successful.
Make sure your wage and benefit package is competitive across the province. Therapists also desire a workplace with a budget that allows for adequate equipment and materials, and the ability to purchase new resources to keep up with innovations and changes in paediatric rehabilitation. Lack of professional support by organizations is a commonly cited reason for attrition. Continuing education is a high priority for paediatric therapists. Ensure you establish an education budget that provides support (time and/or course fees) for each therapist to engage in professional development courses annually. Financial incentives such as a sign-on bonus and/or assistance with moving expenses can also have a very positive effect on recruitment. Partial FTE positions may be more difficult to recruit, so consider partnering with other agencies in your community with partial FTE positions to post a larger FTE position.
Support for flexibility in work schedules can enhance recruitment and retention. Explore flexible work schedules such as every 2nd Friday off, or a portion of some days working from home. Another option is the ability for an employee to purchase an extended leave (e.g. – earn 80% of their salary per year for 4 years in order to ‘purchase’ a one year leave on the fifth year). Job sharing and/or part-time positions may support retaining your therapists when personal circumstances make full-time work more difficult (e.g. – young children at home, medical/health issues).
Tools are provided on this website to support you and your therapists to prioritize and manage workloads/caseloads. Recognize the potential of burnout, and be willing to collaborate and develop a plan to address it. Provide an environment where therapists:
- have autonomy over their work
- receive recognition and rewards for good work
- have clear job expectations
- perform work that is challenging and not monotonous
- have opportunity for change
Provide adequate administrative support and technology so that therapists are able to perform optimally and effectively. One of the recommendations made in the Final Report – Promoting Manageable Workloads for BC’s Paediatric Therapists was that agencies should review current therapy tasks and consider which could be done more effectively by another employee (e.g. – filing, printing/copying, appointment scheduling, etc.).
Promote health and wellness within your own agency. Investigate the availability of group membership rates at local fitness facilities. Your current employees are your best potential referral source, so help make sure they are happy and healthy.
Engage in open dialogue about pressures and challenges of day-to-day work and be open to suggestions for creative management of caseloads. Utilize Preferred Practice Guidelines for BC Paediatric Therapists as a resource.
Respect professional judgment about variation in service delivery. Follow principles of transformational leadership, and encourage a workplace that is transparent and collaborative. Hold regular meetings with therapists to discuss needs, hopes, and professional aspirations, and be clear regarding what is and what isn’t viable at your facility.
Professional support to build skills and enhance networks is consistently reported as a key factor for recruitment and retention of therapists, particularly for those working in rural areas. Professional development can occur in many forms including attending workshops and conferences in person, participation in a webinars and teleconferences, journal review groups, and online education opportunities. Be prepared to discuss opportunities for professional growth within your organization.
Strongly consider supporting student clinical placement opportunities and encourage your therapists to consider taking a therapy student. Providing clinical placements can enhance recruitment of new therapists and retention of your current staff. An investigation by UBC OT demonstrated that 84% of graduates obtained entry level positions in the same practice area (e.g. – pediatric therapy) in which they completed placements. Students are more likely to take jobs in organizations where they have had a clinical training experience. Exposure to rural practice during clinical training has been shown to enhance recruitment of therapists in rural settings.
Clinical preceptors/supervisors of students often find the experience very rewarding. Students bring new ideas and stimulate clinical reasoning skills. Clinical preceptors/supervisors can apply to become UBC Clinical Faculty Members and enjoy the benefits of increased connection with UBC. As Clinical Faculty they have access to free professional development opportunities, UBC library resources and other privileges associated with UBC and affiliated universities (University of Victoria and University of Northern British Columbia). Clinical preceptors/supervisors are provided with excellent resources and support to prepare them for supervising students. Encourage therapists to consider taking a student, and work with your therapists to ensure their workload when supervising a student remains manageable.
Advertise positions in places they will be seen, such as the free job posting service offered by TherapyBC. Another good resource for posting ads is professional therapy associations:
Consider hiring a new graduate (see Employment Regulations) or an International Therapist. Professional association websites have links to therapist training programs across Canada. International Therapy Associations can also advertise your position.
Ensure that your job posting title makes it clear that the position you are advertising is a pediatric therapy opportunity. Also make sure that you indicate what region of the province your agency is located.
Write job descriptions that accurately reflect the work and expectations. Have the description reviewed by a therapist in the same discipline. If your agency is sole-charge and you don’t have access to a therapist to review the description, have it reviewed by a therapist from an agency in a neighbouring community.
Consider what your community has to offer that may be attractive to a candidate and advertise accordingly. Your local tourist bureau or chamber of commerce will likely have resources available to assist you in this regard.
If you have a well-developed website, be sure to include a link to it in your posting.
Adapted from Recruitment & Retention Guidelines (Jason Gordon, Provincial Paediatric Therapy Recruitment and Retention Coordinator) with advice from Robin Roots, Senior Instructor, Coordinator of Clinical Education, Northern and Rural Cohort, UBC Department of Physical Therapy @ UNBC, Prince George, BC.
Information cited from Roots R & Li L (2013). Recruitment and retention of occupational therapists and physiotherapists in rural regions: a meta-synthesis.