Employee Retention at ATI Physical Therapy Clinics

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Employee Retention at ATI Physical Therapy Clinics

Key Takeaways

  • ATI employees are not satisfied with the current leadership and feel like the company sees them as just a number. They feel pressured to reach unreasonable quotas and complain about administrative duties and excessive caseloads. They say that the clinics are understaffed. On a positive note, they usually mention having a great relationship with co-workers, saying that ATI is a place where one can cultivate real friendships.
  • Pivot Physical Therapy’s recruitment strategy used to be focused on leveraging in-person events, especially college fairs. With the pandemic, the company moved to virtual events and social media engagement. Pivot also emphasizes learning and professional development opportunities.
  • Athletico Physical Therapy heavily relies on culture and career progression opportunities for retention and recruitment purposes.


For this overview of the current conversations around employees’ experiences working at ATI Physical Therapy clinics, we examined all reviews posted in the last 12 months to identify the most commonly mentioned topics. We presented a brief summary of the overall sentiment and some examples of direct quotes. However, we included only the relevant parts of the reviews for readability purposes.
Information surrounding competitors’ strategies to retain and recruit workers was limited, as companies typically only reveal basic details. In addition to companies’ websites, interviews with executives, job postings, press releases and reports, we examined Glassdoor and Indeed reviews to discover possible retention and recruitment initiatives.

Public Conversations

Leadership and Culture

  • Employees are not satisfied with the direction the company took after going public. They say the culture is being destroyed by the desire to increase profits, and that the exacerbated focus on money is hurting the quality of care and the employee experience. Multiple workers stated that the company does not care about patients or employees. The word "number" appears quite frequently. Sentences like “the company only cares about the numbers,” "number-driven company" and “You are just a number” are repeated often. Examples of employees' quotes that reflect these opinions:
    • "This company (upper management) changed for the worse. Treat their employees like they are easily replaceable. Watched clinic moral tailspin to nothing but dreading to be there."
    • "Used to be great place to work. Culture was very energetic, supportive, and focused on patient satisfaction and outcomes. Now, just numbers and stress. There have been cutbacks in literally every manner and regard (starting WAY before COVID). Very little concern or support shown as the number of layoffs have been incredible in effort for employees to do much more with much less. Middle and higher level management way out of touch with needs required for customer and employee satisfaction. I could go on and on. Unfortunately, unable leave a "0" rating."
    • "Overly corporate culture. low pay. overworked due to firing of large portions of staff, leading to lower quality of patient care. when i started in 2018 the company was patient first and wanted to give the highest quality of care. by the time i left it had become exclusively focused on the bottom line."
    • "Company cares way more about numbers and making money than the benefit of the patients. Therapist's location and hours get moved around at the drop of a hat, regardless of what is discussed in the interview."
    • "Stop focusing just on numbers . This means you regional directors."

Work Environment

  • Most employees say that the work environment is great. Co-workers are knowledgeable and willing to help. It is usually the number one thing they love about the company.
    • "I work in a good environment with fun co-workers, and am able to help a lot of people recovery and improve their function."
    • "I loved working with my co-workers and clinic manager. Problems mainly with corporate management."
    • "Outreach ATC position was very low even for entry level based in the responsibilities expected. Had good managers and coworkers with good intentions but couldn’t justify staying due to pay."
    • "Warm and welcoming environment. Great people to work with."
    • "I met some great people and my last clinic manager was outstanding. It was a very supportive environment conducive to learning."
    • "Fun and fast paced work environment."

Conflicts with Upper Management

  • According to current and former employees, middle and upper managers working at ATI do not effectively communicate with the staff. Numerous workers say that managers micromanaged their work, while others explain that poor leadership skills had led to conflicts between upper management and employees. Some reviews mention that managers "play favorites," do not provide proper feedback, and dismiss employees' concerns. The most common complaint is the constant pressure to reach certain quotas, which some employees say borders on unprofessional and unethical behavior. Examples:
    • "Management hounds you over cancellations, fitting patients in, no matter the cost to your own mental health/ sanity, all while stating that they want to support you and help you."
    • "Upper level management cares solely about performance metrics and appears to view clinic employees as expendable."
    • "Management took advantage of anyone that was willing to help. They had me do 2 full time clinics, my part time clinic, and train a new hire all at once and then got annoyed when I said I couldn't handle it."
    • "Middle and upper management simply do not care about the employees or the patients. They only care about lining their own pockets."
    • "Senior management is rarely seen and rarely helpful. Do everything to keep off heir radar or possibly be singled out at every meeting as the company example on what not to do."
    • "(...) management doesn't give feedback unless you are doing something wrong and never in a timely manner. When you are doing well no on gives you positive feedback ever!"
    • "It's a great company to get short term experience as a new grad because you will quickly learn what terrible management looks like and how mills operate which will give you a lot of motivation to be a better clinician and know what to look out for in future positions. Definitely not a good environment to plan a long term career."

Excessive Caseloads and Administrative Tasks

  • There are numerous complaints from the clinical staff about having to perform duties outside of their job description. They say that clinics do not have sufficient support staff, especially front office workers. On top of that, several workers said they are overworked due to excessive caseloads and administrative burden. Examples:
    • "While I feel this is a great entry level job for a low-level PT student, I feel that our clinic was not staffed appropriately and that I did not receive the proper training to do my job effectively. On day one, the phone rang and I was expected to try to do a patient intake and enter in all their insurance information with essentially no instruction whatsoever. I had a lot of anxiety about going to work because when I would float to larger clinics with up to 5-6 therapists working at time, I would sometimes be responsible for leading 4+ different patients through their different list of exercises at the same time while also being responsible for grabbing the phone, doing patient intakes, etc."
    • "The front office staff was chronically understaffed and overworked, and the pay was extremely low for the amount of work expected. A lot of bullying and nepotism from the management side."
    • "Units and patient visits are constantly being pushed down your throat to reach "the numbers" and you are also stressed every month to meet relationship building goals at doctors offices when you barely have time during the day to try and fit in 12-14 patients as well as documentation."
    • "Makes promises they can't keep. Under pays there clinicians while cutting support staff, making clinicians responsible for patient care, all front office responsibilities, all while maintaining a clean treatment facility. I would never recommend someone work at ATI!"
    • "Overall, a great place to gain experience as a clinical assistant. ATI has an upbeat, warm and laid back atmosphere. You will be required to not only work with patients but partake in administrative duties."

Expectations and Unreasonable Goals

  • Over-the-top expectations and unreasonable caseloads are a serious issue at ATI, according to employees. Several state that bonuses are not possible to obtain. The regional quotas are problematic as well. Examples:
    • "If you get placed at a busier clinic, be prepared to hustle to carry the "regional" quotas load for slower clinics in the area. PTA career opportunities seemed nonexistent during my time."
    • "Having to manage a patient caseload and worry about numbers that are out of your control is frustrating."
    • "In 2019, Labeed Diab took over as CEO. His emails to employees were friendly, and talked about his family. I had a positive impression in the beginning. One year later, PRIOR to the pandemic, continuing education classes were cut, completely and clinic directors became “multisite” directors. Once the pandemic started, there were mass layoffs of rehab techs. In September, there were mass layoffs of front office personnel and of clinicians that did not have a clinic to return to. A hybrid position was created called the OSS, which is just a Frankenstein of the front office and rehab tech positions. I returned at the end of September to a new clinic. I’m surprised I stayed as long as I did. I stayed until I burned out from unattainable expectations and inconsistent communications from upper management."
    • "Giving your employees the support staff they need. Make us feel valued by giving us competitive raises and achievable bonuses."
    • "Used to be a great place to work but then the management decided to cut alot of our benefits and completely changed the bonus structure which became less lucrative and harder to achieve. There are many great people within the company but overall you are just a number."

Competitive Analysis - Recruitment and Retention Strategies

Pivot Physical Therapy

  • According to employees' ratings and reviews, the company cultivates a strong culture and purpose. Overall, workers believe the company is inclusive and provides a good work-life balance. Research suggests that Pivot recently implemented several initiatives to improve its culture and employee experience, however, details are not publicly available.
  • Reviews show that the company has a positive and collaborative work environment. Managers are perceived as supportive and do not micromanage workers. The company frequently shares its “fun, supportive and team-based culture” on social media to engage current employees and attract potential candidates.
  • Pivot's retention strategy revolves around professional development opportunities. Employees see career advancement opportunities as one of the company's most positive aspects.
  • Pivot invests extensively in Continuing Education and LMS, and worked with MedBridge to offer comprehensive compliance training programs for new hires, ongoing professional development opportunities for senior staff, mentorship programs, and guided career paths for specialization.
  • In 2021, the company launched its new initiative, Pivot Launch Pad, a professional development platform that provides a series of specialization tracks, such as Pain Science or Orthopedic, to guide clinicians. Professionals can choose between clinical, management or educational paths.
  • In-person events have always been Pivot’s main recruitment tool, particularly college fairs. The company believes that in-person recruitment create a better experience for candidates, and are ultimately a competitive edge, as they were able to present an offer to candidates before other companies. They had a "go, go, go' approach to talent acquisition before COVID-19.
  • According to Lisa Hyder, VP of talent acquisition, the company had to adapt and create initiatives to engage potential candidates online due to the pandemic. “We are getting our message out virtually by sending tailored video messages to schools that canceled their onsite career fairs. We also participated in a virtual campus physical therapy recruiting event that was planned prior to the pandemic. Our Sports Medicine team has hosted several virtual 'lunch and learns' with university athletic training programs. We’re also transitioning our Sports Medicine Interview Days to a virtual format and planning a larger virtual recruiting event for June, both of which we will promote and manage using the GR8 People Campus & Event Recruiting solution.”
  • Hyder shared another example of how the company leveraged virtual events to attract students and promote the company’s employer brand: "We continue to implement strategies to keep new physical therapy graduates engaged with Pivot, especially as students represent a major source of talent. For example, this April’s National Physical Therapy Board Exam was canceled. In response, Pivot created a crash test prep course with live classes and additional practice materials to help ease student angst. We leveraged GR8 People to send out an eblast about the course, hoping for at least 15 participants. Over 200 students registered!"
  • The Pivot Physical Therapy Student Alumni Network is an initiative created to facilitate the connection with students that completed rotations in Pivot’s clinics but are now working somewhere else. The company wants to keep the doors open and make sure former clinicians are still engaged with Pivot's employer brand. They also developed a workflow with GR8 to manage student engagement and outreach.
  • The company does not have strong benefits, according to employees. However, one recently added benefit, tuition reimbursement, shows that the company is keeping up with current recruitment trends, and possibly redesigning its benefits package. Furthermore, it is offering signing bonuses for new hires.

Athletico Physical Therapy

  • Athletico’s main recruitment and retention tools are its work-life balance, strong benefits package and flexibility. Employees appreciate the company's efforts to create flexible schedules and a good work-life balance.
  • The company prioritizes culture during the recruitment process, saying that it has a 'hire for fit" process. "Through a strategic, quality driven hiring experience that establishes first the alignment of the candidate with the companies’ core values, followed by a 'best fit' process Athletico consistently attracts top talent from across the nation"
  • Employees constantly note learning and CEU as the company's most notable differential. Athleticos’s philosophy is to “cultivate careers, not just jobs.” Hands-on learning opportunities were noted as a differential by both employees and the company.
  • Athletico provides reskilling and upskilling opportunities to its workforce. Mentorship programs are available to new hires and senior staff. Athletico also worked with MedBridge to provide more learning opportunities. “At Athletico Physical Therapy, we are committed to the development and continuous improvement of our employees, and MedBridge provides a comprehensive solution to enhance our continued success in the pursuit of Inspiring Clinical Excellence.”
  • According to Grant R. Koster, VP of Clinical Operations, they aim to provide a diverse learning opportunity that can fit the needs of senior clinicians and students. By leveraging technology, he adds, "I can monitor our clinicians' engagement with the educational content as well as coach areas for future self-development. By assessing our clinical outcomes data and identifying areas where clinicians may want to focus their continuing education energy, we can create specific recommendations for classes to be completed in order to increase their clinical toolbox and, ultimately, continue to positively influence our patient outcomes."
  • Managers are trained through mentoring programs. "We identify talent early and prepare people through a series of varied and enriching assignments that will train them for future roles. Through a formal leadership training and mentoring program as well as real life experience, our leaders are well prepared to provide the best support to those that follow them."

Research Strategy

For this research on Employee Retention at ATI Physical Therapy Clinics , we leveraged the most reputable sources of informationthat were available in the public domain, including Indeed and Glassdoor. ZipRecruiter had a limited number of reviews available, and the ratings & reviews used by ZipRecruiter are provided by Comparably, which is why for some quotes, the link provided is for Comparably’s ATI page.

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