May 2003

Catholic Health Initiatives Introduces Work Community of Choice Strategies

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Attendees at Catholic Health Initiatives’ recent National Human Resources Conference embraced a plan to realize the core strategy of "People" through the organization’s development as a work community of choice. "For the past year, Catholic Health Initiatives employees have helped us define just what it means to be a work community of choice," said Michael Fordyce, chief administrative officer for Catholic Health Initiatives. "Now, we are ready to introduce our approach to creating that community."

The foundation of that approach is Catholic Health Initiatives’ covenant with employees, called "Our Values at Work." The covenant joins Catholic Health Initiatives and its employees together through a commitment to live the organization’s core values in a way that enables all employees to reach their fullest potential. "The covenant was developed over time by a multidisciplinary advisory group made up of market-based executives, national senior leadership and human resources leaders," said Fordyce. "Employee surveys and focus groups gave us the details we needed to understand what elements employees want to see in the covenant and in our workplaces.

"The covenant is new, but the ideas it expresses are not," he added. "It continues our historical commitment to serving our community of employees."

Victor Fresolone, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Healthcare in Roseburg, Ore., is pleased that Catholic Health Initiatives has established a national forum for dialog on becoming a work community of choice. "This will further solidify Mercy’s efforts to make our employees number one," he said. "We can’t have satisfied patients without satisfied employees."

In addition to the covenant, Catholic Health Initiatives will introduce a covenant alignment exercise to market-based organizations. "The alignment exercise, which has already been piloted by Catholic Health Initiatives’ national operations, evaluates current human resources programs, policies and practices in relation to the covenant," said Fordyce. "It identifies priority areas for development. For example, in our national evaluation, we found that we can improve our employee recruitment and selection, leading to ‘hiring for fit.’"

The evaluation also identified benefit strategies and leadership development as keys to creating and maintaining a work community of choice.

In setting a course for development as a work community of choice, Catholic Health Initiatives enjoys a number of areas of strength. For example, leadership assessments show that leaders routinely exhibit several behaviors that are in keeping with the covenant; and, Catholic Health Initiatives scores well on measurement of employee satisfaction. In fact, several market-based organizations recently led the country in employee satisfaction as determined by the Jackson Organization.

Job satisfaction among Catholic Health Initiatives’ employees has also contributed to impressive reductions in employee turnover. During fiscal year 2002, turnover decreased from 24.51 percent to 19.77 percent, yielding cost savings of more than $28 million. Fiscal year 2003 turnover is estimated to be approximately 16 percent, with another $20 million in savings anticipated. "Retaining employees is increasingly important to our ability to deliver care and establish an ‘employer of choice’ culture," said Ruth Brinkley, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, Tenn. "We’ve moved resources toward selecting the right people up front so we don’t have to refill positions or smooth over disruptions in the work environment that can be caused by turnover."

Watch future issues of Initiatives for articles on various aspects of Catholic Health Initiatives’ commitment to being a work community of choice.

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