Leading treatment center gains an edge in a tight talent market

Andrea Resnik explains how Halogen Software is helping Fairbanks stay on budget and on track, chart their growth and provide better service to their clients.

Fairbanks Hospital, the oldest independent alcohol and drug treatment center in America, relies on the Halogen TalentSpace™ to ensure it stays competitive when attracting and retaining specialized talent. During an average week hundreds are served at the Fairbanks Treatment and Recovery Center; in 2010-2011 nearly 20 000 individuals benefited from the expertise of Fairbank’s highly esteemed medical, clinical and support staff.

Since implementing the Halogen's HR software for managing talent, Fairbanks has realized a number of key benefits, including:

  • More competitive status as an employer:
    • Employees understand what is expected of them and have clear goals
    • Employee turnover is down
    • It’s easier to attract new employees
    • New employees receive job expectations within the first 30 days of hire
  • Ability to quickly and easily gather information required for reviews by The Joint Commission
  • Streamlined talent management tasks and the elimination of paper records
  • Cost savings in terms of “man hours” spent on the process

Not-for-profit struggles to attract specialized talent in a competitive market

Fairbanks Hospital is the oldest independent alcohol and drug treatment center in the United States. Based in Indianapolis, the not-for-profit focuses on recovery from alcohol and other drug problems, serving as a resource to improve the well being of individuals, families and communities by offering hope and support through its programs and services.

In the not-for-profit health care industry, demand for skilled professionals to deliver a wide range of services is an ongoing competitive challenge. Fairbanks was also looking for a way to trim the costs associated with its performance appraisals process and needed an efficient way to address The Joint Commission reporting requirements.

“As a not-for-profit speciality facility, we can’t compete with the infrastructure support in IT and training that a traditional health care facility can offer,” states Fairbanks’ Director of Support Services, Sharon Baker, “however, we’re held to the same regulatory standards. Often times, individuals are uninsured, underinsured or unable to pay for drug and alcohol treatment, so cost can be an issue. Consequently, anything we can do to manage operational costs is a bonus.”

Fairbanks, like so many organizations, conducted performance appraisals using a combination of Word documents and spreadsheets, and they had trouble getting employees to work with the process. Managers would forget where they’d filed reviews from previous years. Supervisors would leave the organization and the performance appraisals they had done would be lost. Completed and submitted reviews filled HR filing cabinets with paperwork, and it was unruly if not impossible to aggregate, collate and evaluate findings year over year.

Fairbanks overhauls performance management

To ensure the organization would be able to attract and retain talent over the long term, as well as meet The Joint Commission requirements, Fairbanks overhauled its performance management strategy and process. The senior management team recognized it needed a system that would enable them to implement organization-wide goal management, centered on the goals and mission of the hospital.

Fairbanks formed an exploratory team to look at options for automating and streamlining the process. The hospital’s director of quality improvement,  director of operational and clinical systems, director of development, director of adolescent services, human resources staff, a trainer, and a consultant worked together to determine the requirements for a new approach to performance management. The team quickly decided not to choose a vendor until they’d clearly identified, “what we wanted, rather than let the software dictate,” recounts Baker.

As part of the process, they talked at length about peer reviews; anonymous peer reviews had been done in the past, but the experience had not been positive. Scoring was another concern. “We spent a lot of time creating organizational standards for inclusion in everyone’s appraisal, as well as carefully outlining management standards and weighting sections issues,” says Baker. “We wanted to make sure any new system could accommodate these elements as we'd initially designed them.”

Once these determinants were identified, the Fairbanks team selected the Halogen suite based on the system’s ease of use and its proven track record in the healthcare market.

Right from the start, the implementation proved successful. “I love Halogen. If you knew how many implementations I’ve gone through before I came to Fairbanks, you’d appreciate my sincerity when I say I have to speak highly about the system,” says HR Manager, Andrea Resnik. “Halogen’s team, the training sessions, the organization, the follow up and timelines kept us on target. We had a whole team that would walk away from a session with homework, things to do before our next session. Building the forms, importing data and configuring the system to where we needed it to be. We reworked criteria, job standards and measurables.”

And their team is more than happy with the results. “It’s a quality product backed by quality people,” adds Baker. “We’ve been so impressed not only with timelines but with Halogen’s ability to think outside the box and adapt its tools to our needs. We can’t say enough positive things. It’s an easy-to-use product on the front end, and the back end doesn’t take a network engineer. We have only one IT person. The fact that HR can run the system themselves is wonderful.”

Rollout started in January 2010 to introduce staff to what was coming. Training was mandatory for all employees organization-wide. Between July and September 2010 Fairbanks incorporated the Halogen Performance™ performance management tool and the Halogen 360 Multirater™ peer review module into its process. About a month before going live, more training, handouts and one-on-one time was offered — particularly to housekeeping staff, many of whom were unaccustomed to working on a computer.

Talent management plan proves successful

The linking of goals to strategic plans was championed by the organization’s CEO, Helene Cross. “Fairbanks is the oldest drug and alcohol treatment facility in the U.S. but we’re also one of the most innovative,” she says. “The Halogen suite makes it clear what people are expected to achieve. I’m very pleased with how we’re cascading goals among our multi-disciplinary teams and the cultural shift that’s occurred as a result.”

Baker and Resnik report that the organization has benefited in a number of other key areas.

Employee morale is noticeably improved. Now, people know what’s expected, and expect and appreciate their reviews. “Overall, our retention efforts are vastly enhanced because we’re always looking at helping to develop staff,” says Resnik.

It’s also helped with recruitment: prospective and new hires are impressed when they learn about Fairbanks’ appraisal process. The treatment center is using Halogen Performance for onboarding over a 30 to 90 day period when new employees join, and there is a custom-tailored onboarding approach for nurses and clinicians joining the staff. Talent management tasks are streamlined by eliminating paper. They're also realizing costs savings in terms of reduced “man hours” formerly spent on the manual process.

“It’s fabulous,” says Baker. “The last time The Joint Commission was here we were entering information on a spreadsheet, running calculations and not getting the results we wanted or needed. We just recently completed our Joint Commission survey in November and the surveyor was very impressed with our performance appraisal tool, the aggregate data regarding timeliness, cascading goals, the 30/90 day process, and our performance improvement team documentation.  Our surveyor told us she’d been hearing good things about Halogen Software but our survey was the first time she was able to see it in action. She was wowed with the results.”

According to Baker, next steps for Fairbanks is to introduce the Halogen Learning™, Halogen Succession™, and Halogen Compensation™ talent management modules.