Episode 229 | Optimizing Your Team: Part-Time and Full-Time Therapist Considerations
WITH Maureen Werrbach
- Episode 229 | Optimizing Your Team: Part-Time and Full-Time Therapist Considerations 00:00
Have you been considering how you can effectively employ part-time and full-time clinicians in your practice?
In this episode, I delve into the benefits and challenges of hiring part-time and full-time clinicians. I share my personal experience of starting my practice with part-time clinicians and how it has impacted work-life balance expectations. Join me to learn more about:
- The importance of considering factors such as workplace culture, income, benefits, burnout, and personal fulfillment when employing clinicians.
- The shift in work-life balance expectations due to COVID-19 and how it has influenced the trend of more people seeking part-time employment.
- The benefits of offering part-time options, such as attracting a wider pool of talent and providing flexibility for clinicians.
- The challenges of managing schedules and maintaining consistency in client care with part-time clinicians.
- The importance of maintaining transparency with staff about the impact of offering part-time options.
Employing part-time and full-time clinicians in your practice can bring both benefits and challenges. By carefully considering factors such as workplace culture and maintaining transparency with staff, you can create a balanced and fulfilling work environment for your clinicians.
Connect with Maureen Werrbach & The Group Practice Exchange:
This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.
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Maureen Werrbach (00:00:01) – You’re listening to the group Practice Exchange podcast where the business development resource for group practice owners, where we talk candidly about business ownership and leadership from practice building tips to live coaching to real talk episodes with other group practice owners where the resource you’ve been looking for to help you grow your group practice. I’m your host, group practice owner and entrepreneur Maureen Werrbach.
This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes, TherapyNotes is an online practice management and billing software designed for mental health professionals. Therapy Notes says everything you need to manage patient records, schedule appointments, create rich documentation and bill insurance right at your fingertips. They offer free and unlimited live support seven days a week. Their streamlined software is accessible wherever and whenever you need it. To get two free months, go to www.therapynotes.com/thegrouppracticeexchange.
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Today we’re going to be talking about optimizing your team and considerations you need to make in bringing on part time and full time clinicians. I think this topic is very timely. As a group practice owner who hasn’t had part time employees in a very long time since I started my practice over a decade ago. It’s something that I think is an important topic to circle back around to, specifically because we’re seeing, since Covid began, a shift in employment dynamics, expectations of employees, work life balance a lot. And I’m sure as many of you have noticed, there’s definitely been a shift in what employers can expect from employees based off of the values and goals that they have for their business. And so I wanted to just chat a little bit about it. When I first started my practice, I started by bringing on part time clinicians. It has probably almost 100% of you did as well, and I think that’s mainly because there was safety in bringing on part time providers, because as you were growing your business and not quite sure if you would be able to fill a full time person up, or at least in a quicker, timely fashion, it felt easier to bring on part time providers to provide therapy.
Maureen Werrbach (00:02:51) – But what I notice, and this is something with myself over a decade ago, and I’m sure for those of you that have been around for a little bit, you noticed that you might have wanted to make a shift to bringing on full time people instead of part time. And this really comes down to things like there are some costs that remain the same to you, whether you have full time or part time employees. And so that cost becomes higher for part time employees, things like the cost of having them have an email and phone lines and providing supervision. And, you know, those fixed costs that you have for each employee that you have in your practice. There’s definitely some variable costs that like certain benefits that you might have that only come into place once they’re full time, that aren’t there for part time folks. But there’s definitely some fixed costs to having full time or part time employees that are the same. And then you’ve got to think about the fact that your recruiting costs, whether it’s you or someone in your practice, there’s going to be costs to recruiting, looking for, interviewing, hiring and onboarding a clinician.
Maureen Werrbach (00:04:00) – That is the same whether you bring a part time or full time person on and then also around termination. When a person terminates, there’s work involved on you or the person who does terminations and supports that clinician and terminating and the administrative efforts that are a part of that, that are the same cost for a full time or part time employee. And so as people grow, they realize that it’s easier for them to fill a person up. And if they’re hiring one part time person after another, outside of the costs that remain the same, whether they’re full time or part time, they realize that they have to go through more effort to recruit and interview and hire and on board part time people as they get filled up. It takes more work than if they were to bring on one full time person. That would take the place of 2 or 3 part time people. There’s less work involved in that. There’s more time in filling their caseloads, and there’s not a need to continuously be hiring to fill in all, of all of those spots.
Maureen Werrbach (00:05:03) – But like I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, we’re seeing a shift, especially since Covid around work-life balance, the quality of clinicians that are coming in and this desire for employees to have a better balance. And, you know, this increased burnout that’s happening in our industry and for us as business owners, looking at how we can sort of pivot and hold space for that burnout that wasn’t there pre-COVID, right? It wasn’t there at that same level. Clinicians were able to work full time and in our industry full time being 25 or so clients a week. And now that is much harder for a lot of clinicians to do, and understandably so. And so if you’re thinking about potentially shifting to part time status, I want to talk about some of the key decisions that are a part of making that decision. One of those is looking at the pros and cons of having a full time employee, or being a full time employee, and the pros and cons of either having part time employees or being a part time employee.
Maureen Werrbach (00:06:07) – And so some of those benefits that come with full time employment is that there’s better workplace culture when employees are around more and get to know each other. Right. If you have a whole team of very part time people who are barely in the practice or barely a part of the practice, your workplace culture is going to be harder to nurture and cultivate. There’s obviously more income for full time employees. There’s more benefits that full time employees can get, and there’s typically growth in leadership opportunities for full time staff versus part time staff. The cons is that there’s potential burnout, depending on how much full time work there is, and there’s less time for employees to have personal fulfillment when it comes to part time work. The pros is that there’s more options for employees to work as much or as little as they want. There’s a burnout reduction for employees. There’s more time for personal endeavors. It might be easier for you as an employer to fill their caseloads, and it might be easier for you to find new therapists looking for part time employment versus full time employment.
Maureen Werrbach (00:07:11) – Some of the cons to think about with part time employment is that there’s higher costs to the business, because there are a lot of across the board seeing costs for you as an employer, whether you are looking for full time or part time employees, like I mentioned, recruiting, onboarding, employment costs and some of those operating expenses that stay the same, there’s obviously less income for the employee at a part time status. There’s fewer benefits to employees for part time status, and there’s a possibility that employees feel less connected to the team, or that there’s lower engagement among your part time staff. So those are things that you really want to be thinking about in terms of making those decisions around whether you want to have full time or part time staff in your practice. But I want to talk about why this might be an important consideration for you now, as it was for me in these past few months as a business owner who prefers to have full time employees, for some of the things that I mentioned is that we have a lot of new clients that consistently want to come in, and it’s a lot more work to consistently onboard a new employee and another new employee and another new employee when we can fill them up at part time status within a week.
Maureen Werrbach (00:08:26) – And it would just mean that every week we’d be able to be looking for another part time employee. It’s easier for us to bring on someone full time and kind of grow their caseload over the course of a month or two versus consistently bringing on, you know, multiple part time people in a month. But as we’ve looked at some of the trends, employment trends that have shifted since Covid, we noticed that there’s less people looking for full time employment these days. There were much more people looking for full time employment when I first started my practice. I remember when I was wanting part time people because I was scared if I could, I wasn’t sure if I could fill them up, and I wasn’t sure how viable my business plan would be, that I wanted some part time people, and most of the applicants that were coming in wanted full time employment, and now it slipped. There’s much less people looking for full time employment and much more looking for part time. And that’s one of the big reasons that we looked at making a shift to bringing on part time employees was to really, you know, step back into what employees are looking for.
Maureen Werrbach (00:09:30) – And if it’s something that we can do, then it’s worth doing for the sake of supporting our clinicians and for the sake of supporting the ability to bring on the type of clinicians that we need. And so as I kind of come full circle to this, if you were thinking about considering either adding part time options back into your practice or adding them back in for the first time, those are some of the things you want to consider. Is the viability in your practice, the way that you can bring about part time options without it sacrificing in a large way your profit margins, and in a way that provides the employees that are wanting part time work, the type of work that they want and for the income that they would want as well. And so there’s a lot to consider with that. And my key takeaway in all of this is to be as transparent as possible to your staff about what that looks like for you to offer part time options, what the impact is on them, what the impact is on the business, and have that conversation from a really transparent place so that they know when you do offer part time options, the why behind it and the why behind some of the decisions that come with bringing in that part time option.
Maureen Werrbach (00:10:48) – I hope this was a helpful episode and I’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening to the group Practice Exchange podcast, like what you heard, give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra support? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into. Visit www.members.thegrouppracticeexchange.com. See you next week.
Thanks For Listening
Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra suppor? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.
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Meet your host
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:
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