Training linked to employee satisfaction, not pay raise

Ongoing education program increases confidence

Could it be that gaining confidence in their abilities and feeling valued by the organization would mean more to your employees than a pay raise?

Since the University of Hospital of Arkansas in Little Rock implemented an intense access education program in October 2001, staff turnover in emergency department and inpatient services has decreased, says Holly Hiryak, RN, CHAM, director of hospital admissions.

Although her department has put in place a career ladder that offers access employees the opportunity to go up two pay grades, she says "the education and training we’ve been developing is more key" to increasing employee satisfaction.

"We all thought if we could solve the salary problem and bring in a higher level of individual, our problems would go away," Hiryak adds. "Salary never hurts, but I also believe that continuing education is probably higher on my list."

Employees feel more confident as a result of the training, she says. "We do a monthly inservice that’s scheduled several months out, and we usually have anywhere from 100 to 150 [employees] attend those inservices."

"We target where people are having problems, and then develop the inservice based on the information we receive," she says. "We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response. I’ve had people say things like, I’ve worked here 18 years, and no one has taken the time to explain this before. Thank you for doing this.’"

As a result of the education and training initiative, Hiryak says, access employees feel the role they play is respected and valued by the organization.

The hospital’s career ladder for access employees has three levels, she notes, with a 6% raise linked to each advancement. To move from the entry-level position to the next level, employees must successfully complete the certified healthcare access associate (CHAA) exam and have a consistent registration accuracy rate of 95% or higher, Hiryak explains. They also must get high marks in attendance and customer service and on an annual manager evaluation, she adds.

The hospital’s Patient First program, whereby staff get recognition from patients or other employees, is one way that employees can show demonstrate good customer service, she notes.

To attain the third level, an employee must become "the expert," Hiryak adds, someone who can act as a resource within the department and maintain an accuracy rate of 97% or more.

"We just implemented [the career ladder] last year, so we’re just getting requests for Level II," she says. Employees will be offered an opportunity to take the CHAA exam this month, she adds.

[Editor’s note: Holly Hiryak, CHAM, RN, can be reached at (501) 686-8170, or hiryakhollym@exchange.uams.edu.]