Tips for Retaining Staff
Scheduling & Time Management Tips
1. Be flexible! Try to give your therapists as much flexibility with their
schedules as you can.
2. Let staff leave early without taking comp time or take longer lunches
together and lead it into team meetings.
3. When staff need to see a family on weekends, I ask them to try and take
their days off together (2 days in a row) whether it be a Sunday / Monday
4. When you see staff showing signs of burnout, help them take time off.
5. Assist staff with time management in order to prevent burnout. Non
traditional hours can be cool if you know how to make it work, but often, a
dedicated employee ends up working 50-60 for weeks unless they are
given specific assistance on prioritization of tasks. Examples of how to
a. Taking calls for therapists so they can have an evening off for
personal time (Ask each week in supervision if anyone needs to
b. Arranging for therapists to take comp time,
c. Sit down with a therapist and his/her planner and make sure they
have a "balanced" schedule for the week
d. Teach therapists to waste as little time as possible (can include
team efforts to help new therapists with short cuts, efficiency tips.)
Structure of Group Supervision
1. Take 15-20 minutes after going through supervision to talk about other
things besides our MST families.
2. Always have something yummy at supervision, and usually a nice spread
for monthly meetings.
3. Let supervision times be a bit loose at times, when you feel you can afford
to or the group needs to.
1. The support team members offer one another keeps them going. A fairly
tight safety protocol makes them feel good about the care they receive
from the supervisor and the rest of the team.
2. Always be available to therapists for questions, reports of success, etc.
Make sure you always carry your cell phone.
3. Show your staff that you care beyond the workplace. Ask how their kids
made out at school on the first day, follow up with them when they have
told you about personal issues that are a problem, or even just encourage
them in things they are doing outside of work (i.e. marathon running,
spiritual interests, etc.)
4. Assign "buddy tasks" to older therapists: “Please call ____ and talk to her
about the time you did X, she's having a little trouble with it now.”
5. Put in place a “confidence call” for your team with a more experienced
MST team. Teams speak monthly to offer support and ideas to newer
6. Start supervision with a “Strength Report.” Each member tells one positive
thing that has happened personally or professionally.
Recognize Therapist Efforts
1. Send little notes off once in awhile. It is amazing the impact this has on
staff. (One staff person told his supervisor that he even put a note on his
2. We designated a sacred space (alter, table) that displays inspirational,
funny, thought provoking sayings, candles, pictures, personal symbols.
We have framed the space as a place to honor therapists, their work and
the families they work with. Some of the symbols have meaning to
individuals, some have become team symbols. A small stuffed lizard
graced the table and then began to move about the office, leaving signs
and messages, and became a culture unto himself! People have gone on
trips and returned with friends for our lizard and so his social support
system has expanded!!
3. Collect positive statements made by families during Therapist Adherence
Measure interviews and present these in a group setting.
4. Make an "MST halo." If a staff does a good job in some aspect of their
clinical work, we put the golden halo on their head, even in the middle of a
Promote competence and success through lots of teaching and praise.
5. Involve the team in decision making, evaluating team effectiveness,
learning needs, etc. This has been helpful in keeping therapists
empowered and part of the problem solving; it helps them to feel that they
have just as much ownership to the program as the agency does.
6. Protect them from negative information (i.e.. people’s perspectives on why
community workers are in the office so much, or what they are doing when
there caseloads are low.)
7. Treat your team members to wings and beer when they reach a milestone,
such as successful outcomes or improved TAM scores.
8. Provide a budget (e.g. $75/month) and have therapists take turns planning
for how to spend the money in team building activities.
Regular fun breaks from work enhance team spirit and buffer
1. Have a regularly scheduled "Self-Care Day" that is designed to feed the
soul with fun, and/or inspiration.
2. Surprise picnics
3. In-office massages
4. Make stress balls out of flour and rice
5. Learn some meditation practices and create a group ritual
6. Have speakers
7. Take half days off to do team things (i.e.. minigolf, bowling etc.)
8. Team “birthday parties” (i.e. celebrating the age of the team)
9. Therapist birthday lunches
10. Treat the team to a meal
11. Have monthly staff development in addition to regular boosters and focus
on specific MST topics but in a less formal forum than the boosters.
12. Make boosters something to look forward to by providing good food and
13. Other activities that access our right brains!!