Rockford Health System, located in Rockford, Illinois, is the largest health system serving northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. With over 3000 employees, the organization includes Rockford Memorial Hospital, a 396-bed tertiary care hospital, Rockford Health Physicians, outpatient clinics with locations throughout the region, and Van Matre HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, a 40-bed inpatient hospital offering a full range of rehabilitation services.
Rockford Health System wanted to improve the value of its employee appraisal process. It recognized that with the realities of a tight labor market — including a retiring workforce and increasing competition for specialists — it needed to look at its annual employee review process as part of a complex skills retention and talent optimization strategy. Rockford knew its legacy paper-based process was no longer providing the value, consistency or quality control that was required.
"Our employees felt that the performance appraisal process had no value to their careers," said Heidi Elsbree, Director of Human Resources and Benefits for Rockford. "Employees specifically mentioned that the appraisal process was time-consuming but lacked direct connection to their jobs."
Elsbree decided to source an online employee performance and talent management solution to drive the change. To select the vendor, she formed a management committee that included nurse managers and support staff from several departments. "Involving all the different entities was important to ensure that a new talent management process was not just an HR initiative, but an organizational initiative," said Elsbree. "We wanted the representatives to have a personal stake in the system so that they would go back and sell it to their co-workers."
The Rockford committee looked at solutions from several market-leading vendors and took part in detailed demonstrations of the technology. "We selected Halogen due to its healthcare industry-specific solution. The other vendors just didn't seem to have the same understanding of the needs of a healthcare organization like ours," explained Elsbree. "We needed the system to be flexible enough to meet the needs of our different entities, which means hundreds of forms. With Halogen we could design the workflow process any way we wanted to. Other systems we looked at didn't give us that kind of control."
Rockford also appreciated Halogen's flexible deployment options. Halogen provides its customers the choice of having the solution administered on-site by the customer's IT department, or having Halogen host and manage the software and associated hardware. Customers may also change their approach quickly and easily over time, as their needs change. "We decided to host the system ourselves. While this was not a big deal to our HR department, it was an important issue for our IT team," said Elsbree. "Since Halogen offered both options to have it hosted by them or here on site we debated it right down to the last second. It was the very last decision we made."
A final important issue for Rockford in selecting employee appraisal software was that it include self-reviews and a 360 degree multirater or peer review function. Because healthcare workers can engage with numerous colleagues in each shift, this perspective provides important feedback in a review. "Our nursing managers were adamant that any new system allow them to perform detailed peer reviews as part of their process," added Elsbree.
After a short training process, Elsbree's team rolled out Halogen Performance™ Healthcare with Halogen 360 Multirater™ to almost 3000 users. She saw immediate results. "While in the past the appraisal process spilled well over the deadline, we now have 100 percent on-time completion," she said. "This is very important as it is a JCAHO standard. With the new system we can track the progress of appraisals in real-time and identify what missing information is required."
To evaluate the new system for evaluting employee performance, Rockford conducted surveys of employees and managers. Managers were 95 percent satisfied with the system and employees were 75 percent satisfied. "It was a significant improvement over our usual responses from our old system," said Elsbree.
Elsbree also feels that having an effective performance management system in place, which includes self-reviews, is helping employees see a direct link between the appraisals they are completing and their jobs. "Previously, the employee self appraisal dealt only with organizational values and the manager then appraised them against job-specific values," explained Elsbree. "Now the self appraisal contains both and is the same form that the managers fill out. This fosters communications between managers and employees during the process. They can see how each scored the same sections and discuss those possible differences."
Having an effective performance and talent management system in place makes Rockford Health Services more aligned. "Through measuring and evaluating performance we are able to see if the organizational strategy is being properly supported," said Elsbree. "This is also why it is vital that employee performance management be an on-going event and not a one-time thing. This is something that is now happening with Halogen using features like the journal, goal setting and monitoring."
Rockford is planning additional uses of Halogen Performance Healthcare for the near future, including nursing validations and employee career planning. "There are a ton of opportunities for ways we can use the Halogen system. It is really very flexible," said Elsbree. "I would definitely recommend Halogen to anyone."