Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy practices have always been challenged by issues with employee turnover, and the fact that it transfers an enormous cost to the business side of maintaining a thriving ABA practice. Though the grounded reality of this problem has only increased interest in possible ways to reduce turnover with Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)/Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) and improve long-term retention rates.
If your ABA practice has been struggling to address BCBA and RBT turnover, some strategies can help. Though this involves first asking and answering some important questions.
Is There A Correlation Between Employee Turnover & Burnout?
The salient truth is that ABA therapy can be challenging for the practitioner as well as the parents whose children might be struggling to communicate their own challenges. This constant stress can lead to burnout which increases the turnover rates for BCBAs and RBTs.
How To Tell If Employees Are Getting Burned Out?
Employee burnout can be hard to tell sometimes. Especially with therapeutic professionals who tend to have their own thoughtful coping mechanisms in place. Though even the most well-developed coping mechanisms can still falter in the face of overwhelming chronic stress. If you are worried that employee performance issues are linked to burnout you might notice your BCBAs and RBTs doing some of the following things.
- Having problems with increased errors and omissions on paperwork
- Frequent absences from work without notice
- Frequent complaints about feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities with no end in sight for increasing demands at work
- A general unwillingness to engage socially outside of work
- A notable lack of enthusiasm for new initiatives
- Increased cynicism, criticism, and apathy toward company policies or procedures
- Reduced motivation to engage in work activities and/or loss of interest in tasks
Why Do ABA Therapists Have Such a High Turnover Rate?
The primary cause of BCBA & RBT turnover in many ABA Therapy practices is often attributed to the same as most industries. The employees themselves feel that they are under-compensated for the level of work they are performing. This is compounded by the fact that this is a field that requires extensive education and experience, it is often difficult for individuals with these qualifications to feel in control of their finances, as they likely have great student debt.
It’s a plain flow of logic that employees who feel overworked, as well as underappreciated, and unfulfilled, while also feeling they are underpaid, tend not to see their position as sustainable long term. This is as true for ASE-certified mechanics as it is for BCBA & RBT specialists.
What Can Be Done To Reduce Turnover Rates In ABA Practices?
One of the most effective ways to reduce staff turnover in an ABA Therapy practices is by improving your hiring and employee retention process. This is done through extensive interviews as well as thoughtful reviews. Throughout the process make a point to listen as closely as possible when an employee expresses their concerns or goals. are expressed.
Embracing strategies to help avoid employee burnout will also help keep individuals who have values that best align with yours. It will also provide them the support they need so they feel fulfilled at work and committed long-term.
It should also go without saying that it is important to hire and retain employees based on their skills and their personality rather than solely focusing on their availability and affordability. Finding and retaining individuals whose values align with yours is paramount to long-term success.
The Importance Of Flexibility
One of the best ways for any business to reduce employee turnover is by offering flexible scheduling options. This might even include things like offering part-time hours for specialists or the ability to work remotely when possible. This will go a long way toward reducing the burnout that often leads to employee turnover.
It’s also important to make sure that you understand why employees are considering quitting and then make targeted changes to help that individual feel more fulfilled in their role in your practice rather than separating from the practice as a whole.
Factors That Contribute To BCBA Burnout
Beyond the nuts and bolts details of how financial compensation and work environment affect burnout and employee satisfaction, other factors contribute to burnout in ABA therapists and other ABB specialists. This includes things like:
- Workdays that are longer than 8 to 10 hours
- Employees who feel isolated from colleagues
- A lack of transparency around policies such as Paid Time Off
- Lack of ongoing training
- Lack of access to continuing education
- Having to deal with administrative tasks outside their area of specialization
- Reducing Stress On Employees
With a lot of small ABA therapy practices, therapists are sometimes tasked with wearing multiple hats. This includes having to spend a lot of hours handling administrative tasks, that are outside their scope of focus, such as medical billing, which takes away from their time working with patients, which is within their scope of focus.
Not only does this add to their general stress level, but since they aren’t fully trained in some of these administrative tasks, it can also increase medical coding errors, which can lead to claim rejections and denials. Of course, this causes problems in your practice’s revenue stream, which makes it even harder to offer your ABA therapist the kind of financial compensation that they feel they deserve.
One of the ways to deal with this, without having to add additional administrative staff is to outsource some of your administrative duties to a third-party vendor. Using a medical billing specialist firm like Operant Billing Solutions frees up the ABA therapists in your practice to stay focused on patients, which is what they originally trained for at university. This further reduces their stress and workload.
It can also help reduce your stress and workload, not to mention reducing the risk of claim rejections and denials. This translates into greater consistency in your revenue stream, which further helps you afford greater employee compensation. Of course, being able to pay your ABA therapists what they feel they are worth, also goes a long way toward reducing BCBA and RBT turnover rates.