By Thomas, Mark; Brull, Harry
Personnel Journal , Vol. 72, No. 11
Like most health-care organizations, Franciscan Health System of Dayton (FHSD) needs to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible to survive and prosper. Two problems, however, were making this difficult to accomplish for the Dayton, Ohio-based health-care system, which operates two skilled nursing-care facilities and one acute-care facility.
First, the turnover rate of the company's nursing assistants was extremely high. For example, turnover at St. Leonard's Center, FHSD's 60-bed skilled nursing-care facility in Centerville, Ohio, had reached a whopping 146%. Most of the turnover was occurring in the first six to eight months of employment. The HR staff concluded that it needed to look at the employee-selection process more closely. New hires weren't staying long, and in many cases, if they did stay, they weren't doing a good job. Absenteeism, poor performance and dissatisfaction with the job were the main reasons that forced the HR staff to terminate employees.
Second, high turnover was taking a toll on productivity and quality of care. "Nursing assistants are primary care givers. High turnover in this position places extra pressure on the rest of the staff and upsets patients." says Rick Willer, personnel director for Schroder Manor, FHSD's 85-bed skilled nursing facility located in Hamilton, Ohio. "Although turnover is high for the industry as a whole [approximately 85%], we needed to get our turnover down below that level if we wanted to provide the level of care that our patients needed."
The system's HR staff realized that one of the best ways to overcome a problem like this was to hire workers who contribute to the company's success. Franciscan needed a system for choosing skilled, productive people who would make a long-term commitment to the organization and who could excel at oftentimes difficult and stressful jobs. In addition, FHSD needed a system that would reduce the tendency of the HR department and nursing managers to hire based on gut feelings.
Management agreed with the need to solve these problems and invested in a battery of tests to help select the best nursing assistants possible from hundreds of applicants. The investment paid off. Since 1990, the tests--called the Nursing Assistant Test Battery--have saved the company more than $300,000 annually by reducing turnover and increasing overall employee productivity among nursing assistants. After selection interviewing and testing were implemented in mid-1990, turnover rates dropped to 71% in 1991 and to 51% in 1992.
"The cost savings from using these tests are dramatic. More important, though, is the improved quality of care the patients at St. Leonard's Center are receiving." says Delores Shuermann, HR director for St. Leonard's Center. "The nursing assistants spend the most time with the patients. It's their actions and behaviors on which the quality of care is judged most. We received numerous positive comments from patients, family and other staff on how much nicer the new nursing assistants are."
The tests help FHSD choose nursing assistants who provide excellent care because it's important to them, not simply because their job description requires them to. Finally, the tests single out candidates whose values are similar to the values of Franciscan Health System: competence, compassion, collaboration and creativity.
"Getting the right people in the first place is crucial," says Shuermann. "We have initiated a total-quality-improvement process within the health-care system. Improving the selection process is a key part of having employees oriented toward the organization's values. This is a way to use data to make selection decisions."
Tests provide HR with a more objective look at job candidates. The Nursing Assistant Test Battery consists of three separate tests:
1)The Personnel Decisions Inc. Employment Inventory
2)The Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey
3) Personnel Decisions Inc. …