years striving to create a magnetic culture to which employees would be attractedand retained.
When the 374-bed, two-hospital facility began the initiative in 2000, employees were reacting to the system as if it were the wrong end of the magnet. Turnover hovered near 30%, nursing units could not be fully staffed, and the systems first employee satisfaction survey with Press Ganey Associates placed it at the 14th percentile.
Norman Regional began surveying employees to find out what was repelling them, but first found it needed to build trust that the survey wouldnt be used for the wrong reasons, says Carolyn Shockey, director of human resources. David Whitaker, the systems president and chief executive officer, held a series of meetings to assure employees, she says.
There had been some history, in the past, where there was some retribution, Shockey says. It took that first period of six months for the employees to say, You know what? Theyre really using this positively, not negatively.
Top brass implemented more than 500 employee suggestions during those first six months and have done so with more than 400 every year since. Press Ganey satisfaction scores have been at the 90th percentile or above for five of the past six years, the turnover rate is 17%, and the systems net income has soared from $4.9 million to $23.8 million while employment advertising costs have fallen 50%.
For these achievements, Norman Regional has received the 2007 Spirit of Excellence Award in the Team category. What impressed me was the fact that they surveyed their employees for suggestions and feedback, says Team category judge Pam CapoBianco, chief operating officer at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, Fairfax, Va.
Employees said, Theyre really listening, Shockey says. Thats partly because she and others communicated back to the employees what they had implementedand who prompted them. Communication is the key, she says. We tell them we made changes because they suggested it. It doesnt just fall out of the sky.
But sometimes that communication is a note back to an employee telling him or her why a suggestion was not implemented, Shockey says. In either case, They see validity to taking the survey and making the comments, she says. The biggest challenge we have, right now, is one of sustaining. We can never sit back and say were done.