Putting your people first


Recruitment and culture are equally important for building a sustainable practice. Two successful practice owners weigh-in on these complex but crucial topics.

RECRUITMENT APA Sports Physiotherapist Libby Soderholm has over 25 years’ experience in recruitment and feels that it is the most difficult and complex aspect of physiotherapy business, especially when the number one focus is service. Physiotherapy business owners need to take their recruitment process seriously because having no recruitment strategy, or putting it low on the list of priorities can have negative impacts, Libby says. Recruitment needs to be strategic and a systemised step-by-step process, so that anyone can take on this responsibility and do a successful job,’ she added.

‘Retaining a good therapist is important and requires great culture, regular performance reviews and support from management staff. Finding out about your employees’ wants, needs and passions are also important to ensure you are fulfilling them to the best of the business’ ability. Good professional development opportunities, efficient front desk support and having systems in place are essential to retaining good clinicians.

 ‘Make sure you get sufficient HR advice to ensure you are complying with all the rights of the employee, and understanding your rights. There can be severe penalties if you do not follow the complex HR legislation. Legislation will be different depending on whether you are under the national or state system,’ she says.


  • have an ongoing recruitment process
  • if you find the right person, but haven’t got a current position, find a position for them
  • continually work on getting feedback from old and new staff about their work environment, and make them part of the decision-making processes  of the clinic
  • provide good leadership and management support for staff
  • have a new graduate mentoring and PD program in place
  • have a structured orientation process and support systems
  • allow staff to find their passion
  • follow all the steps of a recruiting process
  • consider psychological testing on candidates to find the right fit
  • think outside the box to market and advertise your position.

CULTURE APA member Tristan White believes culture is everything, and even wrote a book about it. Here, he talks about how he built a sustainable business by focusing on culture at The Physio Co.

‘Business culture is the stuff that happens over and over in a business or team. The things that get done, our actions or behaviours, can happen by default or by design. When a culture is built by design, it results in a trusting and aligned team working towards a better future,’ Tristan says.

‘Investing time and energy in building a strong culture will not only help make your workplace a more trusting place to be, it will also prepare you for the unexpected. For example, when something happens unexpectedly in the life of a team member and that person can’t get their job done as usual, in a team with a strong culture, the other team members will likely jump in and help with the business barely missing a beat. Similarly, if something goes wrong for the practice owner, a team with a strong culture will roll up their sleeves and get the job done while the leader needs to be elsewhere.

‘When a culture is built by design, it results in a trusting and aligned team working towards a better future.’

‘In a culture that is less intentional, possibly a team with a culture by default, a challenge to a team member can cause much bigger problems for others and the business’s long-term sustainability.

'It is every team member’s responsibility to add to the culture in a positive way. We spend so much time at work that we all need to take responsibility for how we can impact culture.’


  • realise that building a strong culture starts with you
  • catch people doing something right and never miss an opportunity to praise them for it
  • use a system—find a model you can learn from and then tailor to your own team
  • make considered, long-term decisions to positively influence your culture (not knee-jerk reactions based on a short-term hiccup)
  • realise that building a strong workplace culture is a never ending journey—enjoy the challenge and opportunity you have to create a great place to work for the long term.

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