TMH turnover 23 percent in 2009 | CraigDailyPress.com

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TMH turnover 23 percent in 2009

Official: Hospital is exactly where it needs to be, regardless of numbers

By the numbers

The Memorial Hospital employee turnover in 2009:

• Employee turnover: 43 (23 percent of total staff)

• Employees lost due to resignation and termination: 27 (13 percent of total staff)

At first glance, The Memorial Hospital's employee turnover numbers look concerning, said Samantha Johnston, TMH chief of organizational excellence.

However, when assessed in the context of "cultural change," Johnston said TMH is exactly where it needs to be.

"Ideally, we would have no turnover," she said. "We want to keep our good workers. But part of that is making good hires and making sure people are happy in their role. That means providing good job descriptions and compensation so that people come to work in a good environment."

At the hospital board's monthly meeting Wednesday, Johnston handed out a report of all employees who left the hospital in 2009, explaining the reasons for each one and their outcomes to the board.

Of 202 total employees at TMH, 42 were lost to resignation, termination, retirement, relocation and the end of a temporary position, according to the report. One employee included in the report died in an accident.

Johnston said it is not normal to measure turnover by including every person who left for any reason, and most companies usually only include terminations and resignations.

Excluding retirement, resignation because of health issues and the one death, Johnston said the turnover was closer to 13 percent of the total staff, which is well within the organization's goal of 15 percent.

Johnston said when she arrived at TMH two years ago, the hospital was about to embark on a "journey of cultural change" because of complaints from the community about customer service and patient treatment.

Since then, Johnston and TMH have implemented programs structuring employee behavioral standards and practices to improve service and patient relations.

She said part of that process is finding the right group of people to work as a team to move in the right direction.

"We hope one day that we get there, that one day this will be the place to work," she said. "But change is a brutally hard uphill battle sometimes."

Of the 27 employees who were terminated or resigned in 2009, Johnston said some people only worked for a few days before deciding a job at TMH was not for them, while one failed a drug test on the first day of work.

Sometimes, Johnston said, the new behavioral standards created issues with staff.

"We have definitely seen people wash out because of our expectations of behavior and where they were willing to meet us," Johnston said. "On the flip side, most of our staff is incredible, and there are a just small percentage of people who don't reflect our standards."

She said the loss of almost a quarter of the workforce for various reasons was not necessarily a reflection on hospital administration, but that TMH will continue to work with employees to the best of its ability.

"In any organization with more than 200 people, there is no chance that every single person will be completely satisfied with management and that it's their ideal situation," she said. "That doesn't mean we won't try to make it the best possible work environment.

"Our ultimate goal is to do the very best that we can for the hospital and for the community, and that includes our employees."

She said there are 40 employees who have worked at TMH for more than 15 years.

But when it comes to making a cultural shift at the hospital, Johnston said turnover is just part of getting there.

"It's not like I look at this and say there's nothing concerning about it, because ideally, we'd never have a termination," she said. "Ideally, we'd pick the right person and educate them enough about what's expected of them. But sometimes, someone who's been here for several years might get a new manager and just not see eye to eye. I don't see that as a failure on our part."

Johnston said the report about turnovers is not meant to draw attention away from the employees that work at the hospital: it is meant to be a tool.

"My focus isn't on who iss left," she said. "We can focus on this survey and do exit interviews and everything, but my focus is on doing the right thing by those who are still there, and how can we make things better for them."