Alison Cherney: Motivate with incentives

Friday, October 31, 2008

If you think incentives are just for sales people, then think again. Sales and marketing expert Alison Cherney insists that incentives-both financial and non-financial-can be effectively used to motivate nearly all employees, from billers right up through managers.
In her Medtrade session “Real World Tips of Developing Employee Incentive Plans,” Cherney will demonstrate how providers can use incentives to generate improved performance from their teams.

HME News: Give providers a grade on how well they’re doing at motivating their employees through incentives.

Alison Cherney: You have to look at it by department. In general, sales people are well-motivated incentive-wise, so I’d give them a B. Management teams are generally not; I’d give them a C. And billing and collection folks I’d give an F. They get ignored.
HME: What are the challenges providers face in providing incentives?

Cherney: There’s two pieces to the equation. First is the science of it, figuring out the math of “if you get me this much business, I’ll give you this much commission.” That’s the easy piece to figure out. Then there’s the art part of it-figuring out what motivates this individual. Some incentives may motivate one individual and not the other.

Another challenge-it’s really hard to motivate clinical folks with financial incentives. Clinical people aren’t motivated that way. They like a base salary. Providers have to really look at their jobs and figure out what motivates them. Home health agencies have done a great job with this.

HME: What are the steps providers should take to develop incentive plans?
Cherney: You have to look at it by department-what are the benchmarks and what incentivizes my group. Then you have to look at the different kinds of incentives to put in place, because there are many different options that may include financial, stock and promotional.

HME: Give some examples of good financial and non-financial incentives for employees.
Cherney: Incentives could include commissions, bonuses, stock or perk-type things like cars or health club memberships. It could be recognition or career pathing or creating environments for teams to work together. The options are as varied as the teams are. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money, but you do have to put some work into it. It’s amazing what a tiny little thing will do to get people motivated.

HME: If you had one piece of advice for providers, what would it be?

Cherney: How to re-engineer their incentives. How to think about how you can motivate your employees. Most people don’t think about this. They don’t want to change. They’re afraid of talking about it.

Alison Cherney Title/company: President of Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cherney & Associates Services prov