May 26, 2006

Survey shows satisfaction on rise

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Survey shows satisfaction on rise

According to preliminary results from a recently completed institutional survey, Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees have grown more satisfied with their employment over the past two years.

In late March, 11,020 VUMC employees took the Vanderbilt employee satisfaction survey, filling in a questionnaire tailored for the Medical Center. This was the fourth survey of VUMC employee satisfaction, following on surveys in 1999, 2001 and 2004. The participation rate among Medical Center employees was 81 percent, up from 63 percent in 2004.

For each of the questionnaire's 62 statements about working at VUMC (for example, “There is a climate of trust in the medical center”) respondents were given five choices ranging from “strongly disagree,” corresponding to a score of 1, to “strongly agree,” corresponding to a score of 5. Results are compared to past VUMC results and to recent scores the survey vendor has drawn from hundreds of thousands of health care workers from around the country.

“Every item showed higher scores compared to our 2004 survey,” said Allan Sterbinsky, a manager with the Department of Human Resources.

The average score for all items was 3.93, up from 3.76 in 2004.

For the statement, “Overall, I am a satisfied employee,” the score was 4.07, up from 3.94 in 2004. The vendor's 2006 national health care average for this item was 3.90.

The single most improved result by far was, “When the medical center is financially successful, it rewards employees,” which came in at 3.65, up 0.84 from its 2004 value of 2.81.

“It's difficult to overstate the importance of employee satisfaction to organizations such as ours,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “I'm very pleased with these latest survey results. Rising satisfaction bodes well for everyone we serve, for our programs in health care, education and research, and for the many individuals and teams who strive for excellence in their work at VUMC.”

Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, also liked the results.

“The employee survey is vital to our improvement efforts. I'm of course pleased with the results, and I'm grateful to the managers and supervisors throughout the Medical Center who spread awareness and helped boost employee participation to this new level.”

VUMC's elevate program has employee satisfaction and retention as focal points, along with quality, service, finance and growth. For the fiscal year that will end in June, the elevate steering committee set goals corresponding with four major parts, or “domains,” of the survey.

Three of the four goals were met and Vanderbilt exceeded national health care averages for all four parts of the survey. The elevate steering committee wants to raise employee satisfaction to 4.5 in all four domains by June 2008.

“Beyond allowing us to check our progress, new employee satisfaction results are vital to our understanding of what we can do to raise staff and faculty satisfaction to yet higher levels,” said Kevin Myatt, chief human resource officer.

The results for VUMC as a whole show that the four strongest correlates to “Overall, I am a satisfied employee” are: “The person I report to cares about my job satisfaction;” “The medical center is a fun place to work;” “The medical center treats employees with respect;” and “My needs are satisfied by the benefits I receive.”

“Fun, respect, benefits and the manager — in the survey, employees have said these are the things that matter to them most. This helps to narrow the focus of efforts toward continued improvement,” Myatt said.

About 1,200 VUMC managers will soon receive survey reports for their areas via the Web. Beginning next month, Human Resources will offer training to help managers understand their results, present them to their staff and focus any efforts for improvement.

For periodic updates regarding the employee satisfaction survey, see Vanderbilt’s Human Resources Web site,