team building for physical therapy practices

As a practice owner, you need to build a strong team that works well together, both for you and for your patients. Physical therapy teams typically consist of several core departments such as your PT staff, administrative staff, and executive team. For each department to function well alone and as part of the broader office staff, the individuals need to feel valued, connected and aligned to achieve your practice’s mission. Team building exercises and activities are key to strengthening and sustaining your PT practice.

Frequently, practice owners get too focused on the daily management of the clinic to step back and really see how their team is doing. Are they happy? Motivated? Appropriately challenged? Do they value you as a leader AND feel valued as an employee? By taking consistent opportunities to invest in your staff, you build a practice culture that is self-renewing and sustaining. The right mix of training, fun events and company activities can produce an ROI that equals 10x what you invested.

5 Physical Therapy Team Building Ideas

  • Monthly team lunches might sound boring but it is a great opportunity to bring the team together to socialize or share important updates. Create a scheduling block for 2 hours one day a month and order a lunch for the team. Be sure to give everyone time to team and unwind before meeting as a group. Pizza, sandwiches, or potlucks are easy crowd pleasers. If you do go potluck, order cupcakes or something sweet to end the meal. Once everyone is done eating, you can use the time to discuss business goals, upcoming changes or new opportunities.
  • Birthday breakfasts build recognition for team members as individuals. The easy act of circulating a card for everyone to sign and bringing in a box of bagels or doughnuts is key. You show that employee that they are valued, that you care and that their team supports them.
  • Celebratory happy hours don’t need to be a frequent event, but they give everyone a chance to get out of the office and relax. Be sure to give plenty of notice so that employees can plan to attend. A pro tip is to call ahead to a local restaurant and let them know you are coming and with a large party. You might be able to negotiate drink specials or free appetizers. If you are afraid of an all night affair or large bar tab, set clear time (not drink) limits such as “Team Happy Hour on Thursday from 6-8PM”. This gives folks the clue that it’s a few hours of socialization after work.
  • Quarterly offsite meetings are best practices for most businesses, especially successful corporations. Why? You remove the team from their day to day, clear their calendars and give them dedicated time to work on key initiatives. These could be development, training, certifications or brainstorming. At Practice Promotions, we typically do a dinner the night before to allow everyone to mingle. Then, we have a full day to plan, prep and meet. Designating executives and team leaders to own certain portions of the day keeps things fun and fresh. You do not want to be talking for 8 hours (it’s boring, tbh). Have your leadership team create presentations, share results, recognize employees and have fun!
  • Annual conferences give team members time to build their skills sets and gain new knowledge. Most physical therapists need a certain number of continuing education hours. You instantly appear both professionally and personally supportive by encouraging and enabling your PTs to meet their requirements. Additionally, your support staff should grow and expand their job skills. Training classes on new software, operations and management seminars, even local events can add value to your team and your practice. Plan these several weeks or months in advance to take advantage of discounted rates and travel deals. To ensure everyone learns something, have the attendees share out their learnings at the next monthly lunch meeting or quarterly offsite.

Team building for physical therapy practices is essential for you and your staff. For less than a week a year, you can create a culture of growth, motivation and passion that makes a better experience for your patients. As a practice owner, you can use these regular team building sessions as added value to attract new hires and top talent too. Think about it this way- every hour you invest in your employees is 40 hours that you get back in engagement per person.

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