Ephraim McDowell Health


Employee Retention Remediation Strategy Rapidly Reduces Turnover.

High turnover can cost millions. Reduce turnover by finding out what your employees think and how to make yourself the most attractive employer. Follow the link to get your copy of the Ephraim McDowell Health case study.

The Challenge

Ephraim McDowell Health (EMH) saw an alarmingly high number of employees leave which largely contributed to the exceedingly high costs to replace an employee.

The Solution

Using open-ended, employee-in-control questions, respondents were able to define issues in their own words. Leader and department specific results were compared to EMH’s organizational benchmarks.

  • Work Institute implemented telephonic exit interviews to uncover the main reasons employees were leaving the health system.
  • Work Institute conducted quarterly current employee and onboarding interviews to understand employees’ emerging concerns that impacted their intent to stay.

The Impact

  • Employee turnover decreased 32%
  • Annual cost savings of $942,480

Commitment To Improvement

Suddenly faced with an unexplainable spike in employee turnover, Ephraim McDowell Health realized they had a major problem facing the health system. The Senior Leadership Team realized they needed a deep-rooted plan to understand its organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement. EMH wanted to improve employee retention to decrease turnover and its associated replacement costs, as well as attract new top talent.

Taking Action

To fulfill this objective, EMH turned to Work Institute. Together, they implemented a structured process to collect regular feedback from new, tenured, and former employees to identify how to make EMH the most attractive employer in the area. The results indicated four main areas for development:

  • Improve communication
  • Revamp the retirement savings program
  • Establish pay for performance
  • Implement a comprehensive onboarding experience

In 2006, 10.5% of respondents indicated communication was the most important area for improvement. One respondent told Work Institute, “HR needs to keep the employees clearly informed about policy,” while another mentioned the need to “improve communication between staff and supervisors.” EMH installed flat-screen monitors throughout the hospital which display instant information. The monitors assured consistency of messaging and provided a more visual, real-time method of communicating, two attributes that employees emphasized in the verbatim comments. By 2008, not a single respondent specified communication as an area for improvement.

Additionally, employees indicated their highest benefits priority was the retirement savings plan. Therefore, EMH implemented a new, standardized plan with an enhanced matching formula that allowed an individual to have up to 8% of his or her pay matched by EMH. Because of this, the percentage of “Excellent” responses when asked about benefits increased by 47.8%.

While compensation was an area of concern, the open-ended questions revealed that Associates wanted a performance-based compensation system as opposed to a general economic adjustment. Following the institution of this system, the percentage of employees noting compensation for a reason for leaving dropped 16.2% in two years.

Lastly, EMH utilized new hire interviews to learn about employees’ assimilation into the company. A number of newly hired employees told Work Institute that their orientation process was not sufficient; some departments had effective orientation, while others’ were non-existent. A Departmental Orientation process was rolled out to provide consistency with new employees’ introduction to the health system. Ensuing surveys indicated remarkable improvements in orientation satisfaction. One employee noted, “Within 2 weeks, I knew where everything was and had all my questions answered.”

Ephraim McDowell Health Today

EMH continues to use Work Institute for their ongoing commitment to evidence-based decision making. Even though certain areas have seen significant improvement, EMH understands there will always be new issues, and Work Institute’s research allows them to keep a finger on the pulse of changing employee preferences, expectations and intent.

Employee Retention & Engagement Strategies

We employ several strategies and tools to assist with employee retention programs, talent development solutions, employment consulting and data gathering. Ask questions. Be engaged. Retain Employees.