Best practices: ‘Surprise and delight’ your employees

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

ATLANTA – Despite the challenges in the HME industry, now is not the time to overlook best practices related to staffing, said a panel of top providers at Medtrade in November.

Mike Bailey said a key to his company’s success is spending time not only on external customers but also internal customers.

“We’re always asking ourselves, ‘What do we do to surprise and delight (our employees)?’” said Bailey, CEO of Handi Medical Supply in St. Paul, Minn., one of four panelists for a session titled “Hear From Your Peers…Best Practices That Make an Impact.”

Bailey says he has been known to send letters to the family members of his employees as a way to thank them for their support, creating what he likes to call “advocates” for employees and the company in their homes.

Get them in early

With a low unemployment rate, providers have had to get creative to draw talent. Patty Mastandrea said her company holds job fairs and has found them to be a great way to attract good candidates for entry-level positions like customer service reps and drivers.

“It’s like speed dating,” said Mastandrea, COO of MedCare Equipment Co. in Greensburg, Pa. “We screen them for 15 minutes, put their information in a folder, and ask them to apply online.”

Doug Coleman said his company uses “working interviews,” asking potential hires to come in and work for a day.

“If they get in the environment and they’re horrified, we know it’s time to move on,” he said.

Measure them

David Baxter said his company identifies what it expects from each position, top to bottom. If you’re a driver in a metro area, for example, you have to make 13 stops per day; if you’re in a rural area, it’s 15.

“You have to be transparent,” said Baxter, president of Medical Necessities in Columbia, Tenn.

What happens when employees don’t meet expectations?

“We hold team members accountable to the metrics we create for each position and those that don’t meet those metrics are asked to leave,” Bailey said. “I don’t know how to make that warm and fuzzy.

Communicate with them, often

While money is a great motivator, providers said open communication goes a long way toward engaging employees. Baxter said his company regularly publishes a newsletter that answers questions that employees have.

“The simplest thing is communication,” he said. “What is going on in the organization? You want them to feel empowered.”



As an Assisiive Technology Professional,

I want thank all the HME and Rehab providers that are still putting out all their efforts to keep their employess and  we need to applaud their efforts! 

I also feel that this robot mentality as expressed as "do 13  or 15 service calls or you are gone" is typical mentality that needs to be changed in the DME/HME business model. This shows no imagination.

Many business owners  need serious HR training and your  willingness to train and empower  employees so they know  they matter. Everyone wants more profits but your staff are not robots. You maybe able to make money but who wants to work like that.

Since my experience is in Assistive Technology, Complex Powered Mobility and Catashropic Care , you have to be trained to unleash the potential and talents that your employees have.  I speak from experience after having been worked for organizations offering no training and then being downsized due to blindsided and unprofessional human resource departments.

All your metrics are worthless if you eliminate the fundamental reasons that your people willing came to work for you, they wanted to work for your organization.  As basic as this may sound it's true and they can just as easily leave, if you break their morale or your promises to them.

You do not need " to delight " your employees. They want stability, recognition in the work place, no letters sent to home and a decent, steady paycheck.  My experience in AT and AAC  has been expanded greatly by managers and owners with vision to allow for educational and business learning opportunities.  This what keeps many in the home health and rehab world. 

I am hopeful that we will get a new release from the strangle hold our industry has been put in and caused so much anguish and frustration. As owners and managers of all the HME and Rehab organizations, know that your employees want you to succeed so that they succeed. 

But if you are not willing to train your staff or invest in their education don't be surprised when they bolt for the door. This is 2017 and not the age " of the golden toilet seat". 

Thank you,

James B. Newman III  AAS