Thousands of treatment centers, clinics, community centers, and organizations are competing for the same workers. Mental health workers are jumping around between jobs—50% of all employed therapists leave their positions within two years.
How do you recruit and retain the best therapists for your organization in today’s environment?
And how do you make sure your therapists are the 50% that want to stay with you instead of moving on?
We’ve been saying "crisis" for a long time now. A crisis points to a climax or critical point… A culmination.
What we have is a situation. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s going to be here for a while.
We need to move out of crisis mode and create long-term strategies. Even though the demand for care far outstrips our workforce, we need to pace ourselves.
A constant cycle of new workers has become the status quo for organizations “in crisis,” but it’s not sustainable or affordable.
These are all tasks that keep funding and energy in HR instead of in actual patient care.
Ask the hard questions, and not just while you’re talking to yourself. Ask your workers in whatever way you think you will get honest answers.
The answers you need to recruit and retain effectively:
Why did your clinicians choose to work with you?
Why do they choose to leave?
Why do they choose to stay? How long have they stayed?
What is the one thing that almost stood in the way of their accepting your offer?
What would draw them away? Can you offer that?
How can you address these issues in your organization before you resume hiring?
“Dress for the job you want.”
Companies need to dress for the employees they want to attract. But first, know what kind of candidate you want.
Define what skills and characteristics you need from your applicants. Include negotiable and non-negotiable. Then evaluate those expectations:
What are your competitors offering their prospects? How do you compare? You’re wooing the same workers. How do you make sure you’re the prime choice?
Sometimes the difference is in 1 or 2 more personal days, educational benefits, or offering clinical supervision.
Many practices and private treatment programs historically avoid recruiting new graduates because they don’t want to train or provide clinical supervision. Recruit where your ideal workers are:
With a dwindling workforce and the ability to outsource clinical supervision, organizations like yours are finding associate therapists are an asset.
When people look for professional jobs, they go to LinkedIn. List there, and advertise. Other social media outlets are creative options for targeting your ideal audience.
Be interesting, even fun if that fits your work style. Find a fresh approach in your job descriptions. Use fresh images and job descriptions with personality. Describe “a day in the life.”
Let your current therapy and admin teams know you’re recruiting.
Offer a referral bonus that pays not only if the candidate is hired but if they stay for six months.
When you post positions, sell the life outside the office. You don’t have to be someplace glamorous to make that work. Plenty of people are looking for affordability, a remote or hybrid position, or a community with great restaurants and outdoor activities.
The main reason therapists (or any workers) stay in a job is that they feel appreciated and respected.
A good start is to look at what makes them leave and solve that.
Is the pay fair and are they able to conduct their work and meet their needs without worrying about paying the rent and power bill? Are they able to do more than just get by?
Therapists often carry student loan debt. If your organization qualifies for any student loan forgiveness programs, complete whatever steps you need to so they can qualify. Make sure your HR department is ready to help them with applications.
It’s ridiculous to think that people who work with those who are in pain aren’t touched by that pain. A balanced workload, vacation time, and personal time to meet their own needs are important.
Associate therapists struggle to meet their licensure requirements, especially finding clinical supervision. Companies that provide internal or outsource external clinical supervision have an advantage over companies that leave the burden on the new clinician to find a clinical supervisor, pay for them, or travel to them on their days off.
When your organization has a healthy attitude toward work/life balance, you relieve a huge burden from your therapists who naturally feel the pressure to help people.
Do therapists have the opportunity to advance to higher roles in your organization? Is the pathway clear and communicated? Are you open to providing training and educational opportunities for certifications and even advanced degrees?
Lack of administrative support is one of the big reasons why people leave. Employees who feel like staff well-being takes a secondary role to admin policies or focus on bringing in money don’t feel appreciated.
At the beginning of this article, I suggested looking inward at your organization to see what you could improve to attract and keep your therapists.
Just because they signed the paperwork, don’t stop.
Work with your clinical supervisors and directors to keep communication open with each other and your team. Empower each other to follow healthy leadership practices.
Watch your new hire and retention metrics for improvement. Keep adjusting and testing.
Motivo would love to help you with recruitment and retention. We offer vetted, affordable, virtual clinical supervision, continuing education courses, and supportive communities. Connect with us to find out how.
Chief Clinical Officer
Clinical supervision has been at the core of therapist training since Freud and before. How has it continued to develop?
HerMaya Onunwor, DSW, LISW-S
Senior Director of Compliance and Training
The mental health worker shortage is hitting us all. How did we get here and how do we solve it?
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
CEO and Co-Founder