A clock can be seen as one of the most demanding and aligned
‘organizations’. Every second is a deadline—and it takes the precise
alignment of hundreds of components to accomplish its goal of accuracy. If
even the slightest misalignment exists, the clock will fail at it sole task: keeping
accurate time. So what does this have to do with healthcare? Hospitals have
hundreds (and even thousands) of individual players that are all driven by the
same goal: delivering the highest quality healthcare. And, like a clock,
alignment is the key to success.
HealthStream Research is proud to be a partner with St. Joseph Healthcare in
improving the way healthcare is delivered in America. St. Joseph Healthcare in
Lexington, Kentucky achieved their success by aligning their entire
organization to its mission, values, and objectives. In 2001, St. Joseph knew
they had to make some changes; they were experiencing high turnover and low
employee morale. They chose HealthStream Research to conduct an
Employee Insights Survey to determine the satisfaction and engagement levels
of their staff and find the best path for organizational change. “We knew that
we had to focus on the department level as well as the hospital level. We
needed to bring everybody together for this to work,” said Rick Tolson, Vice
President of Human Resources at St. Joseph.
In 2001, they were experiencing a turnover rate of 32.5%, but after
implementing organizational changes the numbers for 2004 are down to
19.8%. “We calculate that our reduced turnover brings us $3,680,000 in
savings each year,” said Rick Tolson. From 2001 to 2003, they doubled their
operating margin from 1.5% to 3.0%. In March 2002, they had a participation
rate of only 38% in the Employee Insights Survey. Within 2 years, that figure
skyrocketed to 77%.
So, how did they achieve such amazing successes?
First came the insights gained from the Employee Insights Survey. “It was
very powerful to see department-specific data on the key drivers of satisfaction
and dissatisfaction. This gave us a roadmap for organizational change,” said
Rick Tolson. “The most amazing insight we gained from the Employee
Insights Survey was that an organization can make significant changes in a very
short period of time. When everybody is focused, anything is possible.”
To begin their quality initiative, they started with getting everyone from the top down involved. “Changes can’t just come down from on high—our people needed to own the process,” said Rick Tolson. The Employee Insights Survey helped them through three important steps: discovering what needed to be improved, building a strategy for improvement, and getting everyone on board and part of the process. The first step was accomplished through discovery and research. HealthStream Research showed them what the employees felt needed to be celebrated in their hospital and what needed improvement. “This process alone helped a great deal in getting the staff on board. We really hyped their involvement. We asked questions and gave immediate feedback, and this ensured that everybody in our hospital was truly part of the process.
Armed with the insights gained from the Employee Insights Survey, St. Joseph formulated the following strategies:
A powerful component of the strategy for change was the alignment of incentives to performance. St. Joseph believes that incentive compensation is appropriate for leaders. Among the primary purposes of the incentive plan was to:
Retention and recruitment strategies have been among the most critical components of St. Joseph’s strategies. They improved their recruitment strategies by:
St. Joseph made some well-received changes that succeeded in reducing turnover and increasing quality recruitment. They developed a Working Parent child care program that offered employees ‘sick child care’, shuttle services, after school programs, emergency back-up childcare, alternative payment strategies for childcare center fees, a Parent’s Night Out program, and transportation assistance.
To maintain their success and growth, St. Joseph has made communication paramount. “We have Town Hall Meetings every six months, Neighborhood Meetings every six months, and Manager Meetings quarterly. Also, we have a ‘Lunch with the President’ every six weeks,” said Mr. Tolson. So what was the key to their success? “Definitely, getting everybody involved. We focused on improved communication, recognition, and associate involvement. We all truly own the success at St. Joseph,” said Rick Tolson. With millions saved in reduced turnover, operating margins doubled, and staff participation more than doubled, St. Joseph is a perfect example of how an investment in quality pays for itself.
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