Holy Spirit is a 1000 bedded eye hospital that is located in the heart of the city. Being the only speciality hospital in the city, its services are very much in demand. Earlier, the hospital was known for its prompt services and excellent facilities; however, its reputation over the past two year has been eroded due to some serious internal problems among its employees. The employee turnover rate has more than doubled since last two years and the profitability has been reduced by almost 50%. Being an HR manager of the hospital, I studied the behavioural patterns of the employees. It was found that many of the staff members had a negative attitude towards their employer, some of the senior staff bullied new comers that resulted in conflicts and the overall work environment had become extremely hostile. As a human resource professional, my job was to resolve these issues and bring the hospital on the right track.
It is very important that the objective be practical, measurable and results in long term sustainability of the hospital. The objective was to increase the hospital profitability by more than 50 % of the current levels and reduce the employee turnover rates by introducing a change strategy in the hospital.
The change strategy to be applied at Holy Spirit hospital
The main strategy of change would be to introduce a robust ethical and anti harassment policy in the hospital along with the introduction of rewards and recognition system.
- Ethical policy and ethical training: Ethics is the study of understanding and analysing whether what we do is good and right (Manikutty, Being Ethical p. 19). If we speak of workplace ethics, we can say that it is a combination of right business policies and practices regarding several work related issues. For all the practical purpose, the ethical training needs to be mandatory in any organisation (Dessler & Varkey, Human Resource Management p.566). The ethical training includes getting employees acquainted with ethical dilemmas, how to use proper code of conducts to resolve conflicts and how to contact the human resource department in case of any escalation of conflicts. The staff at Holy Spirit hospital could be trained on ethical issues by creating ethical scenarios that indentifies and deals with several complicated situations. It must be ensured that the senior management at the hospital be involved in this activity.
- Anti harassment policy: Workplace aggression is very common phenomenon that exists in many organisations today. It was noticed that some of the supervisors at Holy Spirit hospital were workplace bullies; they yelled and at times even threatened their subordinates. Such behaviour is unacceptable and would not be tolerated at Holy Spirit hospital. It is very important that this policy is quickly incorporated and put to practise, because employees under abusive supervisors are more likely to quit their jobs, report lower job satisfaction and high levels of stress. This policy can be like “ All the employees, patients and visitors are entitled to a respectful, positive and meaningful work environment, free from actions, behaviours and language that is results in workplace harassment” ( Yandrick, R. Lurking in shadows p61-86).
- Introduction of reward systems in the hospital: It is very important that the hospital management rewards its staff that practise ethical behaviour and penalize unethical behaviour. If the management would not penalize the wrong doers, it would be demoralizing for those who follow the company policies and fair practices. An ‘employee of the month’ award would be organised at the end of every month. About 5 staff members, one from each speciality, would be shortlisted for the award. The criteria for short listing would be positive patient feedbacks, good on the job performance and practical application of ethical and fair treatment policies.
What kind of changes can be expected?
Through the above mentioned change strategy, it would be expected that the hospital can win back its lost ground and reduce its turnover rates. If we look at the individual strategies, we can infer the following:
- Being fair their colleagues and patients by practising workplace ethics: If a person knows how to differentiate between right and wrong, he is in the right path. By being ethical, the hospital staff will develop a positive attitude towards its employer and its patients. The staff would be polite, tolerant and cordial in its functioning and this will be beneficial for the hospital in the long run.
- Once the hospital staff is aware of the anti harassment policy and its negative repercussions, it will make sure that it does not practise anything that is against the policy, or there would be a legal action against the perpetrator. This would result in reduction of workplace conflicts and bullying.
Why would these changes take place?
Different Factors that affect the change process
- Personalities: Those employees who would be will to work towards the common strategic goals will accept these changes, those who have stubborn personalities might reject these changes, and they will be eventually asked to leave the hospital.
- Leadership: Any major change, that needs to implemented, would be impossible unless the hospital leadership is an active supporter and participates in the process along with the co-operation and co-ordination of the hospital’s senior management.
- Power structure: If the hospital has a centralized power structure, the proposed changes would take more time to be implemented as compared to a de-centralized power structure. Holy Spirit has a decentralized power structure.
- Communication, decision making and stress are some other factors that can play a vital role in the change process. It is imperative the hospital HR follows a ‘direct two way communication’ process between them and the hospital employees. They must have one on one discussion apart from general announcements and distribution of notices. The decision making process has to be quick and fast. The management needs to deal with the initial stress and anxiety of applying these proposed changes.
What are the incentives for these changes?
Finally, the HR department needs to stress on the benefits of the proposed changes, they need to make sure that employees or the hospital’s higher management does not go back to their previous behaviour. They need to highlight the benefits of the proposed change strategy:
- Reduction in employee turnover rates in long term.
- Increase in hospital profitability.
- Higher employee satisfaction.
- Better patient treatment and improved patient feedbacks.
- Improvement in the hospital’s overall brand image.
- Reduction in the number of internal conflicts and better employee-employer relationship.
Dessler, G. & Varkkey, B. (2010) Human Resource Management. Pearson. Print.
Manikutty, S. (2011). Being Ethical: Ethics as foundation of business. IIM Books, India. Print.
Yandrick, R. (1999). Lurking in Shadows. HR Magazine. Print.