Investing in Our Culture
It’s been said that in the world of business, if you’re not growing you’re dying. However, growing too quickly can mean a death sentence for your company culture. As a physical therapy company, it can be especially difficult. Think about it–as you grow, your clinics get further apart. You open up in new cities. Soon, your clinics span across multiple states. Before you know it, getting your teams together in person is difficult and costly, so you do it less. Communication happens primarily via email and employees at each location rarely speak to anyone outside of their home clinic. This is the point where so many well-intended company cultures fail. We refused to let that happen…
As we have grown, we continue to invest heavily in all aspects of company culture. We opened our doors in 2003 with one clinic. Now, we’re over 200 clinics and growing steadily. Here’s the kicker–during this explosive growth, we’ve managed to:
1. communicate more often than ever;
2. increase our patient satisfaction scores; and
3. enhance our company culture.
As an indication of this success, you can look at our collective online reviews from patients, with an average score of 4.9 out of 5 stars. So, what are we doing right? Well, if we had to boil it down, here are the top four things we can point to as key factors in keeping our company culture strong.
Step 1: Find a Balance Between Rituals and Autonomy
It can be dangerous to be too rigid or too loose when it comes to the rituals of your company culture. If everyone must do everything the same way, they’ll feel like drones. If there are no rituals or guidelines, you’re likely to have inconsistent quality results across the board. Hitting that sweet spot between rituals and autonomy can be tricky, but it’s possible. At Ivy Rehab, every clinic has a branded bell that is rung when it’s time to celebrate success. You’ll hear the bell when patients begin their treatment plan, complete their course of care, or when the clinic achieves a milestone event. Though all clinics participate in this ritual, the local teams have autonomy to make important decisions like how to treat their patients, how to serve their local communities, and more.
Step 2: Make your Team the Face of Your Company.
One thing you’ll hear a lot around the Ivy Rehab team is “it’s all about the people.” We take that motto seriously. In fact, many of the photos you see our website, on our marketing materials, and on the walls in our clinics are of our actual team members! Who better to represent our company than our own people?
Step 3: Bring team members together both digitally and physically
Back when we had about 45 clinics, our marketing team noticed that we had all of these incredibly smart clinicians, but they were spread out across multiple states and not talking very much with each other. We thought, “imagine if we could get them sharing that knowledge with each other–imagine what that would do for the health and wellbeing of our patients.”
We had to find a way of bringing everyone together without being face-to-face every day. Enter technology. Our marketing team led the effort to put in place a digital collaboration tool named Workplace by Facebook. This platform allows everyone in the company to post photos from their clinic, discuss research articles, and share videos of treatment techniques used to get patients feeling great again.
“It’s amazing to see a clinic in Illinois posting a video about how they treat patients with ACL injuries and then a clinic in South Carolina adopting the practice that same day,” said AJ, Senior Director of Marketing. “I truly believe this investment in technology is a key factor to why our patient satisfaction scores are so high.”
Seeing each other’s smiling faces digitally isn’t the only way Ivy Rehab is bringing its people together. Team members also connect in many other ways including regional team building events, quarterly operational leadership meetings, company-wide town hall meetings, bi-annual director retreats, and more.
Step 4: Build Teams by Serving Others
Team building events are widely used to get team members collaborating, but often not utilized to build a culture at the same time. Here’s how we do things differently.
During past in-person director retreats, Ivy Rehab team members worked together to build bikes for underprivileged kids in the community. At each event, the teams complete puzzles & challenges to earn each bike part. Once the bikes are built, the teams are surprised as local children, hiding outside the door, rush in the room to get their new bikes. It’s a tear-jerking moment that invariably has team members talking long after the event is over.