As the recession of 2007-09 loomed, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center (CCHMC) leaders found themselves with annual turnover rates of nursing-related staff that exceeded the U.S. average of 10.5% at nursing facilities. This high nurses turnover was placing stress on employees and the hospital. To gain real insight, CCHMC needed to go beyond the numerical ratings-based surveys and gather both quantitative and qualitative workforce intelligence. CCHMC supplemented its organization-wide engagement studies by adding a new exit interview program outsourced to a third party, Work Institute.
Work Institute and CCHMC created a program designed to:
- explore supervisor ratings over time
- track turnover rates and costs
- understand employees’ overall rating of the hospital compared to the employees’ intent to stay and his or her productivity
- discern employees’ real reasons for leaving
To see, understand and interpret this data, the departmental report summaries included coded responses as well as verbatim responses detailed by question. Further queries allowed a view by demographic factors in the departments of the hospital to find root causes embedded within the verbatim comments. CCHMC targeted five specific units within the hospital that were experiencing the most challenging turnover rate trends. After defining the most important issues, the team created an action plan for each issue.
Some of the initiatives they put in place included a nursing career ladder allowing pay for experience and to entice nurses to obtain advanced degrees. CCHMC also developed partnerships with a local university and the local union to provide increased tuition assistance for nurses.
CCHMC’s revised, more deliberate retention strategy allowed the organization to be more competitive and cost-effective. Employee turnover in the departments where it was disproportionately high was reduced with all of the associated cost savings and obvious increase in employee performance and satisfaction.