Amy Schultz Clubbs grows passion fruit at Molina Healthcare as employees find giving back is the key to engagement Featured

10:31pm EDT May 31, 2013
Amy Schultz Clubbs, plant president Molina Healthcare of Ohio Amy Schultz Clubbs, plant president Molina Healthcare of Ohio

Amy Schultz Clubbs pays her employees hourly wages to volunteer at least 16 hours per year as a way of giving back — and doesn't have to look far to see proof that the volunteering pays big dividends. Actually, positive signs can happen at any time, nearly anywhere.

“We had a couple of individuals who through their volunteering with the Meals on Wheels program recently were able to help save a woman’s life when they went to the home,” she says. “The individual had fallen and couldn’t answer the door; they were able to get help and likely saved her life.”

The victim was afraid help never would arrive as she was lying on the floor after the fall. She later told them she was told she had suffered a mini-stroke. She couldn’t get up, and was frustrated, crying and scared.

Two provider relations representatives with Molina Healthcare who deliver meals in the Zanesville area knew something was wrong when the resident didn’t answer the door and her dog kept barking and tugging at the front window curtains. They called 911.

A firefighter was able to gain entry through a window. The resident was hospitalized but has since recovered. She has expressed her gratitude to the two volunteers and has even invited them into her home regularly, so they all could get to know each other better.

“It’s rewarding because you give back to the community,” one of the Molina employees said.

Clubbs agrees wholeheartedly. In fact, it’s one method that she believes is particularly successful with motivating Molina employees through its rapid growth since it was founded in 2006.

When she signed on with Molina Healthcare in 2007 as its chief financial officer when the corporation was opening an Ohio division, she moved quickly through the ranks to COO and to her current role because of the rapid growth of the provider of managed care services to Ohioans on Medicare and/or Medicaid. Molina Healthcare has become Ohio’s second largest care coordination plan with 240,000 members, and now has 460 employees and more than $1 billion in revenue a year — and expects to hire 225 more next year.

Here’s Clubbs’ prescription to deal with rapid growth and keep employees engaged to the fullest.

Track the life cycle

Many companies were founded by an individual who was passionate about a particular product or service and who wanted reach as many people as possible to tell them about it and make them a customer. Just as it was with founder Dr. C. David Molina and offering affordable, quality medical care for the needy. Once that was established, it was logical step to also offer a health care plan exclusively for government-sponsored health care programs for low-income families and individuals.

So the mission was clear from the beginning for Dr. Molina and it was just as clear to Clubbs when she became CEO a few years ago. Clubbs and her team took an empirical look at the entire process, to see if Molina Healthcare of Ohio was operating true to the corporate mission.

“We kind of started looking at what is the life cycle of the member,” she says. “Where does it start? We followed that through the entire organization — what does the life cycle through our organization look like?”

By following the life cycle, they were able to make sure that the right process and infrastructure was in place every step of the way to navigate the member through the organization.

At every point in the process, it is necessary to keep the focus on the relationship that is being developed.

“Molina doesn’t spend a large amount of money on commercials and billboard advertising because we really rely on the relationships that we develop with our community partners and with their provider partners as well really to educate potential members about what their health care options are,” Clubbs says.

The examination of the life cycle showed the depth of engagement employees will need to demonstrate — and the importance of how critical it is to maintain that engagement.

“The people who work for us are really passionate about what they are doing and the individuals we are providing services to, and so you need to really look to keep that passion in employees throughout the year,” she says.

“It was just getting the right people in the right seats of the organization, and really developing people from what started out as building infrastructure to moving toward more of an operations life cycle of the company, and really keeping people engaged in the organization as you do that,” Clubbs says.

As the Ohio division of a larger corporation, the entity had a template of sorts to follow when it was first started, but there was also a provision to adapt as needed.

“A lot of it we developed from scratch, and a lot of it we were able to leverage,” Clubbs says. “With building relationships, we were definitely able to leverage best practices from our other states — and the Molina story as well. The company has been around for more than 30 years.”

“We still run clinics today in many of our states, and are able to really leverage that history as we are building that relationship here locally as well,” Clubbs says.

Find the differentiator

Examining the role that employee engagement plays is critical in finding out what separates the winners from the also-rans.

“I believe it is our differentiator, and I really think it is how we have been successful in keeping our employees so engaged and keeping morale up while we have been growing so quickly over these last several years,” Clubbs says. “I definitely think it is a key. We really try to model that engagement at all levels of the organization here.”

Among the methods beyond the minimum that are frequently used by businesses to keep employee engagement high is the support of volunteerism. Molina Healthcare has put it in writing.

“Our volunteer time-off policy says we will pay people for a set number of hours every year when they volunteer in the community,” she says. “And once they do that, even though you are only paying for a set amount of time, people get more engaged and are more likely to go out and do it on their own as well.”

The company also has an employee activity committee that helps coordinate the volunteer opportunities for the associates. At least quarterly, the committee will have an employee appreciation event as well where the members show how much the company appreciates employees.

“We encourage people to not only volunteer their time but to give back through personal donations either monetary or things like having a personal care items drive for the food bank,” Clubbs says.

She also encourages her leadership team to contribute by being board members on community organizations as she herself serves on several boards.

“It’s another way that we kind of demonstrate our commitment to the community, that they are serving as well.”

Find a need and focus on it

If your company examines your flow life cycle, and you find a particular need that can be met that with some attention and focus, it can be a win-win for you and customers.

Clubbs and her team capitalized on what was common knowledge about the population it served: It was more vulnerable than others that may be served by a commercial plan. Members may have significant health problems as well as financial concerns.

Accordingly, if Molina could focus on care coordination, it would be a plus. Communicating with some of its members through outreach builds the relationship to a new level.

“We have community health workers who actually go out into the community,” she says. “They will go visit members in their homes to do health care assessments and things of that nature and to bring services to members in their home or other places of service, where they might not be able to get out and get those services as readily on their own.”

The company activity team and management receive sensitivity training that gives some background about common situations they may find, and it can help to solidify relationships. One of the big things they experience is the Beyond the Freeway Tour.

“They will take a group on the bus and take you around the local community, through a homeless shelter, through a food bank, through other places where the individuals that we are serving or are also receiving services, so that you can have that sensitivity to what a day in the life of one of our members is really like out there.”

Such as experience may heighten an associate to listen more closely and visualize what the member is going through as the member talks about concerns.

“I think a lot of times words are not exactly what the problem is or what the issue is, so really being able to listen and decipher between what someone is saying and what the issue really is and to make sure that you are addressing it and resolving it is really key to any success,” Clubbs says.

How to reach: Molina Healthcare of Ohio, (800) 642-4168 or


Track the life cycle of the product or service

Find the differentiator from your competition

Look for a need and focus on it

The Clubbs File

Amy Schultz Clubbs

plant president

Molina Healthcare of Ohio

Born: Lawrence, Kansas.

Education: I went to Ohio University and received a bachelor of arts in business administration, majoring in finance.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

My first job was serving soft ice cream at a Dairy Shed. I think what I learned from it was a lot of patience and customer focus. It was in Circleville, Ohio.

What was the best business advice you ever received?

The best advice I ever received was to ask for forgiveness, not permission. That honestly has helped me over the years of my career. It basically means, ‘Just do it.’ If you think it is the right thing to do, go ahead and do it. Don’t wait and ask somebody if it is OK to do. If it ends up being wrong afterward, then you can ask for forgiveness. But it is better to just go ahead and do it if you think it’s the right thing to do. That came from my regional vice president who preceded me as plant president, Kathie Mancini.

Who do you admire in business?

I mostly admire people who are really following their passion, their heart and what they do in the business world. There are a lot of women who I work with and for right now. Five of my directors are women, and if you look up verticals for whom I report to, the next three layers above me are all women. Every one of them is so passionate about what we’re doing here at Molina. They are smart and strategic thinkers. They are doers and they make things happen. So I love that. And I think that people who do follow their passion are able to have a bigger impact on an organization and still be able to make things happen. That’s what I admire. I’m just surrounded by them here.

What is your definition of business success?

I think in general, business success is really being able to grow a business profitably while achieving some sense of the greater good of the community. With Molina, our ability to improve health outcomes for the individuals to whom we are providing services to is for the greater good of the community. At Molina it is providing high-quality care to improve health outcomes in a manner that is cost-effective.