July 2005

Assessments Show Opportunities in Human Resources


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From St. Vincent Health System, Little Rock, Ark.: (Left) Chaplain Michael Barnes and Patricia Harris. (Center) Glenda Arledge, volunteer. (Right) Michelle Good (foreground) and Kathleen Sitarik, MD.


Human resource assessments have produced actionable data to promote Catholic Health Initiatives’ effort to become a work community of choice in every market it serves. The surveys were not about trying to achieve a “good” score, but about identifying practices that will enable Catholic Health Initiatives to be seen, internally and externally, as a work community of choice.

Human resource assessments conducted at all market-based organizations and national offices have produced actionable data to promote Catholic Health Initiatives’ effort to become a work community of choice in every market it serves.

The assessments, based on a 125-question Web-based survey completed by each market-based organization and national office, have produced extensive results. “The surveys were really an inventory tool,” said Nancy Etzelmiller, vice president of human resources for Catholic Health Initiatives. “The surveys were not about trying to achieve a ‘good’ score, but about identifying practices that will enable us to be seen, internally and externally, as a work community of choice.

We now have a baseline of the human resource practices in place at every market-based organization, at our national offices, and on the system level.”

The assessment survey, which was developed by human resource leaders from across Catholic Health Initiatives, also identified areas for improvement. “The assessment measured performance on ten factors that are critical to fulfilling our covenant with employees and creating a work community of choice,” said Dan Clark, vice president of human resources for Catholic Health Initiatives. The ten factors range from employee selection to the use of metrics.

“Overall, we found the greatest opportunity for improvement in four areas: development, retention rewards and pay practices, employee involvement and leadership practices,” said Clark. “These are priority areas for system-wide human resource initiatives.”

Each market-based organization received its own survey results, which identified areas of priority for their own human resource programs. “We created an action planning template that the market-based organizations used to determine their next steps,” said Etzelmiller. “We’ll be able to take all of those market-based plans and roll them up into a system-level plan that will reflect the greatest human resource needs of our system and our local organizations. That information will be valuable in determining how to allocate our resources.” Implementing the action plans will also help market-based human resource leaders develop change management skills.

Clark and Etzelmiller have found that market-based human resource leaders have been enthusiastic about the assessment effort and eager to share results with their management teams. “One great benefit of this entire process is that it helped us create a true human resource community across our system,” said Clark. “We’ve been working closely with local human resource teams, helping them interpret the assessment results and share those results with their executive teams. We’ve forged very good, very collaborative relationships.”

To ensure that the human resource initiatives that result from the assessments are tied to Catholic Health Initiatives’ business results, the national human resource team has also developed a performance scorecard that will tally key metrics.

“It’s important to note that the assessments and the initiatives that come from them represent just one step on our human resource journey,” said Clark. “We’re using several techniques to look at what we need to do to create work communities of choice in all of our markets and national offices. At this point, I think Catholic Health Initiatives has done more than most organizations in America to understand its human resource infrastructure and what it takes to be a work community of choice.”