How a Focus on values Reduced Turnover

By Nancy Davis Oct 9, 2012

PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.—In 2006, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh numbered among the top 10 children’s hospitals in the United States. Yet its patient and family satisfaction scores were in the 25th percentile—and turnover was rampant. The culture reflected a “lack of focus on values,” said Rhonda Larimore, SPHR.

Larimore, the vice president and chief human resource officer for the hospital, documented a dramatic reduction in turnover—and other improved metrics—at an Oct. 3 concurrent session during the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2012 Strategy Conference here.

The goal was to use values—patients and families first, responsibility, innovation, dignity and respect, and excellence—to change the culture, she said. “When we talk about culture, we at Children’s are connecting our employees to what we do.”

Among the signposts on the “roadmap” her HR team followed:

  • Incorporating values in the strategic plan.
  • Screening candidates for behaviors consistent with those values.
  • Developing and administering assessment tests that screen all candidates for behaviors and values.
  • Creating a more interesting and complete onboarding experience and offering it weekly instead of monthly.
  • Hiring a retention specialist to help new hires throughout their first year.
  • Designing a more complete training and development program.
  • Introducing 360-degree performance appraisals.

The results? Annual turnover fell from 17 percent in 2006 to 9.2 percent today. Turnover among nurses fell from 18 percent to 7 percent during that time. Patient and family satisfaction scores doubled to the 50th percentile. And the hospital still numbers among the top 10.

“As the HR indicators went down, all those other indicators also went in the right direction, thereby showing the value of HR,” she pointed out.

Nancy Davis is editor of HR Magazine.

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