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Workforce for the 21st Century

Organization Size: 136 beds

Program/Initiative Description
Workforce for the 21st Century
: St. Catherine Hospital identified the need to address workforce challenges when use of travelers and turnover rates became too high. Speaker and consultant Clint Maun was brought in to help identify what it takes to find and keep good staff. Based on research and Maun's work, the hospital identified six major areas that contribute to high turnover, including poor supervision, poor orientation, lack of fun, inflexible scheduling, negative attitudes, and poor selection. To help make change, every 12 weeks a team of 12 employees/associates is chosen to help identify fixes in the six areas of focus.

Called the Explorer Team, the first team of 12 made great strides by looking at problems and adopting the "One Great Unit" philosophy of making change one unit at a time. The team implemented a structured process for selection of employees with a team-based interview process. Improvements to orientation were made so that new employees may not begin work on their unit until they have completed a three-day general orientation. Advertising strategy changed so that ads now run only for targeted jobs. Self-scheduling has been implemented in about half of the departments, with the ultimate goal of each team creating its own schedule.

The hospital also focused on absenteeism and tardiness early on, with a system of goals and rewards established among teams to encourage improvement. The first Explorer Team put together a book on fun and has passed around copies of the book "Fish." Each new Explorer Team focuses on the six issues and develops new techniques. Each new team is rewarded with anything from logo jackets to an additional day of vacation, as well as a team cookout at the CEO's house. There is a strong emphasis on management by teams.

Establishment of Program/Initiative: 2001 and ongoing

The Program/Initiative Was Designed to Address:

The Workforce Problem
  • High turnover rates
  • Use of travelers
  • Inconsistent staffing (absenteeism, travelers)
Major Objectives
  • Be the preferred employer in SW Kansas
  • Create a team structure for problem solving
  • Provide consistent quality patient care with consistent quality staffing
Significant Results
  • Zero use of travelers (celebrated in April 2004 with a $10 bill to every employee)
  • Nursing turnover reduced to 16 percent from 28 percent; overall turnover reduced to 22 percent from 31 percent
  • Ten Explorer Teams underwent team concept training and implemented new techniques
External Partners in the Program/Initiative:
Clint Maun, consultant

Limitations or Problems Encountered
  • Learned better introduction to "One Great Unit"
  • Don't assume appointed leaders understand team concept; more teaching required initially
  • During the 12-week process, hold teams accountable to "One Great Unit" by reporting to Explorer Team on a weekly basis (Each new Explorer Team must define accountability)
  • Start with a whole new team every 12 weeks
Estimated Cost of the Program, To Date
  • Consultant fees
  • Staff time (12 people meeting twice/week for three hours; plus any sub teams)
  • Rewards for participants
  • "Opportunity" costs
Advice to Other Organizations That May Want to Start a Similar Program
  • CEO must be committed to change and willing to take on team concept, including team teaching and regularly attending meetings
  • Use a consultant the first year
Publication Date: January 2005