How To Successfully Hire Massage Therapists in 2023

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If it hasn’t been obvious to this point, there’s been a massive shift in the hiring market for massage therapists. 

As a direct result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, dozens of massage schools have closed, many therapists have gone into private practice, and some have even left the massage profession behind entirely.  Plus, starting in 2020, the United States saw a massive wave of employees leaving their job in a movement known as ‘The Great Resignation.’ 

While this has especially hit the bodywork industry hard, this trend is not an isolated event, and there’s been a large shift in culture and values for the average employee.  Massage Therapists, and other employees alike, are now in search of job opportunities with better pay, better benefits, scheduling flexibility, more opportunities for career growth, and feeling like their presence is valued and respected. 

In short, things that may have been previously tolerated in jobs are no longer being accepted as a standard. For many owners & employers, this is the first time they’ve ever attempted to hire and expand their business in this kind of climate. 

Simply posting a standard job ad to typical places is no longer an effective means of hiring new massage therapists in 2022. However, with the right changes and the right approach, it is possible to staff your spa, clinic, or wellness center with the right qualified candidates. 

The Shift In The Hiring Market 

While it should be expected that eventually, more massage schools will re-open as time passes, we need to face the current reality – most massage therapists are not actively participating in the hiring market.

The hiring market has seen more changes in the past few years, than in the past decade – however, there still lies an opportunity to hire and grow your practice. While many MTs are not actively searching for jobs, there are people who are open to hearing about new opportunities.

Source: American Recruiting & Consultiung

Active Vs Passive Candidates

Prior to 2020, most practice owners have been used to a climate full of ‘active candidates’ – people who are going out of their way to actively seek new employment opportunities. 

Typically, active candidates are massage therapists who aren’t employed, such as recent graduates, or people who are highly dissatisfied with their current job. In the past, these are the candidates who have made up the vast majority of applicants. They follow the expected path of visiting job boards and applying to the opportunities that are most interesting to them.

However, the tables have now turned, and by and large, it’s now an employment market full of ‘passive candidates–  people who are not actively looking for new employment but are open to new opportunities if something better comes their way. Unlike active candidates, passive candidates are most often currently employed and are happy enough with their current situation – including people who have left the industry for whichever reason – such as a change in career or other life changes. 

Source: CEIPAL Staffing

While this may be a new experience for current employers, this is not a unique or isolated phenomenon. Currently, over 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive candidates that aren’t actively seeking new employment.

Specific to the massage industry, this includes therapists employed at chain spas, therapists who left the industry due to the pandemic, and even therapists who are self-employed yet not earning a full-time income. Basically, your perfect fit hire is probably already working somewhere else. By actively seeking out passive candidates, you tap into a larger pool of better-qualified massage thearpists for your business. 

It’s up to you to get their attention, and it helps to make sure you’re offering something that employees actively desire.

The 4 Key Things Massage Therapists Are Currently Looking For In Employment 

As employers, the first question we need to be asking ourselves is whether or not we’re offering what people are actually looking for in a job. A survey was put out online to answer the following question: ‘What, if anything at all, would be attractive enough to make you consider working somewhere else?’

The results of which were largely concentrated in 4 key areas:

  • Salary & Wages
  • Perks & Benefits
  • Work Culture
  • Scheduling Flexibility

1. Better Pay

The most resounding answers were those related to higher pay. Whether this is in a commission, hourly, or salary role – most therapists are looking for better wages. This is not surprising, especially since the entire economy has shifted greatly in the past few years in the United States. 

In just the past few years alone: 

2. Employee Perks & Benefits

Following wages, the next most important things employees are looking for are perks and benefits. While many therapists enjoy the freedom that being an independent contractor can offer, those who are happily seeking out regular employment are asking for more from their jobs. 

Employees are now taking preference for jobs that offer things like:

  • Health Insurance
  • Sick Leave
  • Paid Vacation
  • 401k programs
  • Paid CEUs
  • Free Employee Treatment

3. Work Culture 

One of the more difficult things to articulate, yet important aspects of a job, is the workplace culture. Employees are dedicating large amounts of their time and energy to their job, and want to ensure – regardless of pay – that it’s a worthy trade-off.

When considering work culture, therapists are looking at things like:

  • Opportunities for growth 
  • Treatment & classification of workers (W2 vs IC)
  • Management Style(s)
  • Practice Style (Spa vs Medical vs Therapeutic)
  • Time between sessions
  • Clearly defined job expectations 

4. Scheduling Flexibility 

The last major item that came from the survey was scheduling flexibility. For many therapists, this became extremely important while navigating COVID and quarantine procedures for their young children. 

While not every therapist is a parent, the ability to have a level of control of their schedule is a highly sought-after trait of an ideal job for many. 

The 7 Best Practices For Hiring Massage Therapists in 2022

If it isn’t already obvious, the old practices for hiring massage therapists aren’t as effective as they used to be. 

With the candidate pool now significantly more passive, you’ve got to up your game if you want to attract & high massage therapists to your spa or practice. 

Here are some tips to help you attract qualified talent: 

1. Take The Right Mindset

The hiring market has changed. Your ideal therapists are most likely already working somewhere else where their job is “good enough.” Relying on active candidates, and old methods of hiring are becoming less effective every day. 

Take a moment to assess which approach you’re going to take to find your best-fit people: 

  • ‘Restrained’ Hiring – We rely on the initiative of interested candidates to fill our job vacancies. 
  • ‘Active’ Hiring – We go directly to the candidates using active & forward recruitment strategies. 

With the right mindset and approach, you’ll find greater success in your employee search efforts. 

2. Revisit Your Employment Offer 

Let’s get this out of the way. If you aren’t receiving any interest & responses from MTs, then odds are that what you’re offering is not competitive enough. Expectations for salary, benefits, and more have completely changed in just the last few years. 

Salary & Wages 
As an employer, you need to know your numbers and be mindful of profit. However, a few dollars to you in hourly pay or commission percentage can mean a measurable difference in the quality of life for your employee – and in return help you hire a highly talented therapist.  

Look at what other clinics in your area are offering and what type of MT(s) they have employed. You are in competition with those clinics; act and advertise accordingly.  If you can offer more than a 10% pay increase above their existing job, it can be enough to start the conversation. 

As a small business owner, it can be very scary to think about increasing wages. Make your life easier, and hire the most expensive talent you can afford. Advertise the higher salary, and turn away anyone who’s not a good fit. 

Benefits & Non-Salary Perks 
While salary is one of the biggest areas of focus for massage therapists, it doesn’t mean it’s the only criteria that people are using to make their decision. When putting together your employment offer, think about everything you have to give to your team members.

Will MT’s have to worry about washing their own linens? Do you already provide the necessary equipment for different modalities? Do you offer paid vacations? Sick time? Insurance? Paid CEUs? Free or discounted treatments? And so on. Be sure to highlight all of the benefits and perks of being employed with you. 

At the end of the day, selling your employment opportunities should feel similar to selling your services. You should strive to have an employment offer so good, and a job so attractive that your ideal therapists can’t help but be drawn to you. 

3. Write A Better Job Ad 

Passive candidates know their worth, and don’t have time to deal with mediocre, subpar, and nonspecific job postings. If you aren’t willing to put effort into your job ad, why should you expect the right person to be interested in working for you?

By creating a better hiring ad, you can greatly increase both the quality and quantity of your responses. Here are a few areas to consider including or highlighting in your job ads: 

  • Pay & Employment Structure – Will your team members be independent contractors or employees? Will their pay structure include some form of commission or be a flat rate? What is the pay structure for hands-on massage vs non-massage hours? In any case, these details and the expected take-home pay should be clearly listed 
  • Job Duties & Expectations  – What duties or responsibilities besides hands-on hours will be expected or required? Will they be responsible for cleaning, sales, and/or client check-out duties? Are the therapists expected to attract their own clientele? 
  • Availability & Working Hours – Beyond being part-time or full-time, what are the available hours and specific shifts? And/or if the hours are flexible, what is the minimum number of hours a therapist is expected to work? 
  • Client Load – Is your spa or practice already turning away clients? Will a new therapist start and immediately have a full schedule, or will there be a ram-up period? Give candidates an idea of what they can expect when they first join with your company.
  • Location – List where you are. Include street names as well as local landmarks & references. Make it easy for candidates to estimate their commute time without having to look it up. 

After writing your job ad, take a look and ask if what you’ve written is something interesting and compelling enough to get a total stranger – who already has a job – to want to respond and work for you. 

4. Showcase Your Values, Story & Culture

It’s easy to think about marketing your practice to showcase things for your clients, but how about for potential employees? It’s not enough to just have a career page listing your available jobs.

Highlight what it looks and feels like to be an employee of your business.

  • Broadcast your values & work culture  – What does your business stand for? What do you stand for? People want to work in a place that provides more than just money. Share your story, vision, mission, company values, and articulate the culture as often as possible. 
  • Have a career page on your website. You want candidates to share the same goals, attitudes, and general outlook in your business. A careers page can be the perfect place to show care all of these things. Use this space to also shares stories from you the owner, or from happy employees. 
  • Be active on social media – Show your face, your team, and your practice! People want to know where & with whom they’re working. Having a social feed full of stock images says nothing about the people who work at the company. This also tells candidates that you are actively promoting your team and helping keep their schedules full. 
  • Demonstrate a clear structure of growth. If you want to hire therapists who will stay, show them a plan of what their career could look like over the long term. Demonstrate what growth can look like in terms of management but also therapist-only paths. Will people be encouraged to start their own practices? In any case, show your candidates what their options are when growing with you.  

No matter how you do it, it’s up to you to sell yourself as a business and paint a picture of what it’s like to work for you. People will spend roughly ⅓ of their time in and at your business. Whether it’s through video, text, or word of mouth, it’s up to you to show that it’s a place that’s worth it. 

5. Create A Premium Hiring Experience 

Most spa & practice owners will put a large emphasis on creating an amazing client experience, yet totally neglect the hiring process. For new therapists, the hiring experience is a reflection of what a therapist can expect once they are employed. 

As owners, it’s up to you to give the same care and attention to create a premium hiring experience, just as you would for your clients. Here are a few things to create a better hiring experience: 

  • Make the application easy to access and complete. Passive candidates are less willing to go through frustrating online applications. Make it easier for your ideal candidates to apply. 
  • Do a 2-Step Interview. Splitting an interview into 2 more parts can be a win-win. By doing a video or phone interview before the in-person portion, you can weed out poor-fit candidates while also being respectful of passive candidates’ time. 
  • Pay for the hands-on interview. It’s surprising to find in 2022 that employers are still asking therapists to give their labor for free. Show that you value and respect your candidate’s time by paying for the practical portion of their interview. 

Remember, while active candidates are looking to engage with you, with passive candidates, you’re trying to engage with them. By creating a premium, or above standard hiring experience, you can start the conversation off on the right foot, and show your candidates how much you value them. 

6. Go Beyond The Job Boards

If it hasn’t been clear by now, you cannot apply your previous mindset and approach to hiring qualified therapists. Standard hiring ads on job boards are not going to cut it if people aren’t actively looking. It’s time to get creative. 

The vast majority of passive candidates are NOT waiting for positions, nor are they actively searching through job posts. You have to go directly to the therapist if you want to fill your practice with ideal candidates. 

Where To Look Beyond Job Boards 
Consider where else you might find candidates outside of traditional online job boards. 

  • Connect with the community – Outreach programs and community involvement aren’t just great for finding clients, they can also serve as marketing for potential employees. 
  • Connect with schools – Find out the ways you can partner with massage schools. While this won’t take care of your immediate hiring needs, it can open the door to creating a symbiotic relationship with recent massage schools and recent graduates. 
  • Encourage word of mouth – Don’t let it be a secret that you’re looking for more massage therapists. Encourage your existing team members to tell their network, and let more people know in yours. 

7. Recruit With Facebook Ads

There is currently an underutilized opportunity to fill your hiring needs right away, by utilizing the power of paid advertising. Attracting qualified massage therapists is not unlike attracting clients for massage services. What matters most is that you are putting a great offer targeted toward the right people. 

Just like advertising for new clients, Facebook ads can be used to place your job ad in front of a specific demographic – those who have shown a working or educational background in massage therapy – without wasting your budget on the wrong people.

Not only that, but Facebook ads can be used to directly reach the passive candidates who would have otherwise completely missed, or ignored your job posting. 

Since passive candidates aren’t actively searching job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn, you can use Facebook ads to be sure your job posting is getting placed directly in front of the people you’d like to hire. 

What To Do Now

In order to attract and hire massage therapists in 2022, you’ll have to adopt a new mindset and approach from the pre-COVID days. Therapists have higher standards and expectations from their places of employment than ever before. 

It’s up to you as an owner or employer to match employee expectations if you want to attract the right people. Take a look at your previous hiring efforts, and where they may have fallen short. 

  • Are therapists actually seeing your ad? 
  • Are you offering something that makes therapists want to take action?
  • Are you making it easy for the RIGHT therapists to move forward?

Remember, the “perfect” therapist is usually not the one who is most skilled, but it’s the one who will work best within your clinic and existing team. While it may be tempting to do nothing or hire the first person who comes your way, you need to ask yourself as an owner – what is NOT having the right staff costing you? The right employee can have a 65% impact on your bottom line, and it’s up to you to make sure you find and attract those who are the best fit.

If you want help refining your employment offer, writing a better job ad, or making sure it’s getting it to the right people, schedule a call or ask about our done-for-you recruitment service.

After years of successfully creating campaigns for new client attractions, we’re happy to now introduce our recruitment campaigns with Facebok Ads.

We’ll work together to understand your business, and your needs, and put together an irresistible job offer to attract your ideal candidate. From there, we’ll craft a recruiting campaign using paid Facebook advertising to get directly in front of eligible therapists.

While a traditional recruitment agency costs 15-20% of the first year’s salary, we offer our service for a low flat fee. Plus you only pay the fee after your therapist has been hired.

Interested? Find out if our done-for-you service is the right fit for you. Click here to schedule your no-cost, no-obligation call today. 

Hey! I’m DJ. I help wellness practice owners scale their income, impact, and freedom, too

Darryl "DJ" Turner

Darryl "DJ" Turner

I help wellness practice owners scale their income, impact, and freedom. I believe practitioner-owners should build their practice in a way that it not only generates income, but allows them the freedom to step back and live a life they love.