By Rick Bell
Aug. 26, 2020
A career as an emergency medical technician can be a demanding grind.
While there are clear rewards in such a compassionate, public-facing job, an EMT typically works long shifts, juggles hectic schedules and gets mediocre pay. Median compensation for EMTs and paramedics was $17.02 in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A 2018 survey from the American Ambulance Association found that poor pay leads to high turnover among those working in the emergency medical services industry, which sees an annual turnover rate of 25 percent among full-time EMTs.
Facing turnover and retention concerns like much of the rest of the EMS industry, executives at Ambulnz sought solutions to retain its EMTs. The New York-based non-emergency, on-demand ambulance service sought to improve medical transportation through innovative technology, a higher level of care and better compensation for EMTs.
Retaining employees through incentives
In order to get the most qualified first responders, Ambulnz designed a novel benefit for its 1,200 hourly employees. The Equity Incentive Plan was created to encourage, recognize and reward exceptional performance for its employees, said Ambulnz President Anthony Capone.
“We have been speaking about creating the Equity Incentive Plan for a couple of years and fully put it into effect for 2019,” Capone said. “It’s a path to entrepreneurship and the ability to build meaningful careers in the ambulance service.”
Capone pointed out that Ambulnz, which operates in eight states including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas and Illinois as well as the United Kingdom, distinguishes itself from the typical on-demand company such as Uber and Lyft through its business model.
“On-demand ride share companies have a business-to-consumer model, provide point-to-point transportation as an alternative to a taxi service and use independent contractors to provide their service,” Capone said.
“Ambulnz has a business-to-business model, provides medical transportation and we own our fleet of ambulance vehicles and employ full-time EMTs and paramedics.”
Ambulnz offers different levels of services ranging from a wheelchair-bound patient transport to a critical care transport, he said. When a patient needs to be moved to a new facility for treatment out of a hospital, outpatient treatment clinic, doctor, dialysis or chemo center, a pickup can be scheduled through the Ambulnz app, Capone added.
The vast majority of Ambulnz’s 1,300 employees are W-2, and only full-time employees are eligible for the incentive plan, he said. It differs from a startup’s typical equity compensation plan, he added.
“Usually startup companies provide equity compensation to new hires to entice them to bet on a relatively unknown company,” he said. “We are an established, growing company with over 1,000 employees. While it is not uncommon for tech startups to offer equity compensation for employees, Ambulnz is the only company in the medical transportation industry that offers this benefit to frontline employees.”
The incentive program was created to reward employees for their exceptional performance, he said. With that in mind, they decided to provide 2,000 equity units for each 500 trips eligible employees take in the previous year.
“This is based on volume, but performance is taken into account when employees become eligible for the program,” Capone said.
Besides the incentive plan, Ambulnz offers a base salary, medical benefits, bonuses and an optional “model program” for EMTs that offers them the ability to earn more than the national average for their profession, Capone said.
“EMTs who enroll are paid in part based on the number of calls they respond to,” he said. “In addition, EMTs are encouraged to stop by different outpatient centers, such as nursing homes, to introduce themselves, explain Ambulnz, and drop off a business card.”
Capone said the incentive program helps employees feel like they are part of the Ambulnz team and inspires them to do their best. They officially launched the program by issuing awards for employees 2019 trips, so there aren’t metrics to share yet, he said.
“The announcement has certainly energized our workforce, and numerous employees are inquiring about their 2020 trip counts to see how they’re tracking for this year,” Capone said. “Since its rollout, the plan has been a successful way to attract, retain and motivate our employees.”
There’s no need to wait until it’s too late to adjust the flow of work. You can see wage costs in real time and adjust staffing levels and assignments to maximize profitability with Workforce.com’s Live Wage Tracker.
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