Reimagining HR for Physical Therapy: A Conversation with Dr. Shondell Jones

Physical therapists Dr. Shondell Jones and Dr. David Edwards founded Kinetic Physical Therapy and Wellness in 2010. Growing from a partnership into a group of dozens of dedicated providers, Kinetic provides one-on-one physical, occupational, and speech therapy services throughout the Greenville, North Carolina area. We spoke with Shondell about his experience in expanding a small partnership into a thriving provider group while keeping the employee experience in mind.

Beginning with the Goal of a Better Workplace

Shondell and David had seen the difficulties physical therapists face in the business administration aspects of private practice, so they set out to create something better. “My business partner and I worked together for years,” he explains, “and we’d always talk about this dream environment where people would love going to work, [with] great benefits, good paid leave, and an environment where people can grow, both as professionals and individuals.”

Providing this ideal environment meant overcoming several logistical challenges. Before Shondell added BambooHR®, he and his business partner struggled with the technological aspect of managing multiple therapy providers as they provided services in schools, homes, nursing facilities, industrial sites, and many other settings. “All of our administrative programs were one-device licenses and manual entry. My business partner and I had to keep up with all our time off, benefits, recruiting, and therapist licensing requirements on one shared computer.”

Finding the Right Technical Support

When Shondell started researching HR software to help stay ahead of his growing administrative workload, BambooHR was his choice for the clinic’s current and future needs. “Now that we have 140-plus employees, [BambooHR is] critical for us as far as onboarding and retaining team members. It’s easier to send communications to team members, it’s easier to offboard with consistent processes, it’s easier to stay compliant.”

As Kinetic has grown and added more employees, Shondell has noticed BambooHR is keeping pace. “I like the fact that it constantly seems to be updating,” he says, “I appreciate the monthly updates newsletter. Things like the custom fields and ability for team members to upload documents to their own files are very helpful for what we do.”

"BambooHR means the best of both worlds—building systems and having time for patients and employees.”

Recognizing the Employee Is the First Customer

Shondell recognizes how giving employees a good experience is essential for making a good impression with clients. “We’ve got a culture that says ‘do what’s best for the customer.’ But we’ve learned that once people make their mind up, it’s harder to change it than it is to make a good impression in the first place. That goes for employees as well as clients. So your first customer is your employee—if they’re unhappy, they’re not going to go out and be happy with the client. If you don’t have a good team, you’re not going to get a good result.”

Their mission is just as much about helping their therapists grow and succeed as it is about helping their clients grow and improve. As the company grows, Dr. Jones and Dr. Edwards give their staff new career opportunities by creating additional leadership roles for teams and locations. They also recognize the importance of ongoing training, including promoting experienced therapists to support beginning therapists.

“If we can find good people who want to learn, our recruiting works.” says Jones. “I’d rather have someone who wants to learn than someone who thinks they know it all, even if that person only has 50 percent of the skills. We can help that person grow, give them autonomy, help them gain mastery through education, and link them with a sense of purpose.”

Nailing the First Impression During Hiring and Onboarding

With help from the BambooHR® Applicant Tracking System, Kinetic can more easily find the right people in a timely manner. Shondell especially appreciates the efficiency in posting and managing job ads: “When we’re hiring, we can put a job ad in our system and have something out in minutes to Indeed and Glassdoor. The ATS makes referrals easy—if we have a new graduate from a school in Pennsylvania, they’ll say ‘my roommate is looking for a job, too,’ so we’ll get a two-for-one without a lot of extra copying and pasting.”

The onboarding process has also become much more streamlined, removing the need to take Kinetic employees away from therapy to handle administration. “We used to have to do our onboarding manually, and printing out the paperwork for each person takes a lot of work, not to mention scanning [it] in. As you grow, you either have to add more people or better systems to keep up.”

Actively Listening to Employees

With so much emphasis on the career growth of their therapists, the clinic finds the performance management features of BambooHR essential. They dedicate time for one-on-one meetings or calls between employees and their team leaders two or three times each year, and use BambooHR® Performance Management to schedule semiannual self-assessments for each team member. “We don’t want to take for granted that hallway conversations are enough” remarks Shondell. “We use the one-on-ones to be a bit more individualized, to let them bring up their concerns and professional goals in a place where they can open up and know we’re listening. We’ve even created new roles based on feedback from our therapists.”

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Shondell knows Kinetic needs to translate its values into the experience their employees have every day. “As founders, we hope that, as we have grown, the way we imagine that Kinetic is, is truly what it is to the employees. We are proud of what we have here at Kinetic but we realize that everyone’s proud of their own baby. We hope our employees are seeing it the same way that we do.”

To keep a pulse on how their employees feel, Shondell and David rely on BambooHR® Employee Satisfaction with eNPS® to provide insights and track progress. “Part of our annual planning is looking at eNPS surveys. We take the surveys and print out reports. We take a look at different locations, whether people like our benefits, communication, etc. If it’s going down, we’re going to make changes on it, if it’s going up, we’re going to brag on it.”

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With these efforts to understand employees, Kinetic can better match roles to its employees’ passions. And that produces better results because, as Shondell says, “If someone is passionate about something, you don’t have to remind them to do it, it’s always on their mind.”

The Best of Both Worlds

With BambooHR, Shondell can balance his own passion for serving patients with the drive to create a great place to work. “I have a passion for both sides, both the clinical and the administrative. I love to create the administrative systems, I love the vision casting. But if I have to just sit at the computer, I miss being around the patients. So I’m still involved in patient care, although I don’t have as much of a load as I did in the past. I get away with it through a lot of teaching and mentoring,” he laughs.

Most importantly, BambooHR has given Shondell the time he needs to fulfill both sides of his vision. “I think the best thing about BambooHR is the automated process behind it. There are certain things that, once we set it, we don’t have to rethink them. So BambooHR means the best of both worlds—building systems and having time for patients and employees.”

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