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St. Peter’s Health Care Services Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 6th, 2020

Introduction

Located in Albany, New York, St. Peter’s Health Care Services is one of the region’s largest employers with an estimated annual budget of $450 million which supports 4,500 employees which includes administrative and nursing staff, doctors, caregivers, technicians and other forms of hospital based employment. Further examination of the institution reveals that it is one of the leading hospitals within the state with advanced medical equipment and services not often available in state run hospitals located within the Albany area.

It must be noted though that St. Peter’s was originally established in 1985 by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and as such incorporates distinct religious elements into its healthcare guidelines, mission statement and core values. This is evident through its charity care program which provides assistance to patients with significant economic burdens in the form of financial discounts, deferred payment practices, charitable donations and a host of other similar forms of assistance.

An even closer examination of the hospital shows that its integration of technological forms of treatment with holistic services such as spiritual care and support groups has resulted in generally positive feedbacks from patients who have undergone treatment at St. Peter’s and proves how their method of patient care is definitely above average in terms of patient wellness and satisfaction. It must be noted though that despite the state of the technologies utilized and the quality of service given there are distinct problems within St. Peter’s organizational system, specifically the manner in which the hospital’s management deals with employees.

From a monetary based method of examination, St. Peter’s can be considered well run fiscally in terms of its overall flexibility, level-headed spending and strict adherence to budgetary conditions in several of its departments however when examining the method in which Senior Management at the hospital dispenses promotions and salaries several problems were noted. The first problem that was noted was the fact that salaries within the hospital were widely considered by the staff as being lower than they should have been receiving, not only that social work positions within the hospital were not well managed in the least giving rise to the assumption that there is a degree of managerial negligence in this specific aspect of hospital services.

The basis behind the current dispute regarding salaries is the fact that compensation is not given in light of experience on the job. Several employees within the hospital who have several years of work experience in that particular position were not given appropriate compensatory salaries equivalent to their degree of experience. In fact an examination of the hospital’s salary practices reveal that there is actually only a small level of difference between workers with several years of experience and those just entering the hospital in similar positions.

Another problem that was noticed was the fact that management neglected to place professionals who were not registered nurses into more leadership positions within the hospital. This creates a distinct waste of talent within the hospital since incorporating individuals into particular leadership roles has been shown in numerous studies as resulting in greater organizational efficiency and thus fewer organizational problems.

The final problem that was noted within the hospital’s style of management was the fact that nurses were often unsupported by Senior Management and were in fact expected to always keep on taking more tasks, improve their performance while at the same time only talked to Senior Management in order to be criticized for things done wrong during regular hospital operations. The inherent problem with this type of management style is the fact that it only creates a distinctly antagonistic and negative behavior between upper management and regular employees which could distinctly impact employee performance given enough time.

An examination of various studies into varying management styles used in several organizations reveal that the utilization of particular styles similar to that of St. Peter’s while increasing organizational efficiency in the short term have tendency to reduce performance in the long term as a direct result of negative employee behavioral attitudes towards the type of style utilized (Hollon, 2008). When this particular factor is combined with the fact that employee salaries are not set based on their level of experience this creates the possibility of high churn rates (churn rates refer to the number of employees leaving and entering a company or organization) within the hospital which has the possibility of eventually creating a human resource base of continuously inexperienced employees which would definitely impact the hospitals ability to properly care for patients (Finkelstein et al., 2009). It is based on this that an analysis must be done in order to examine how management can impact team morale and how this can result in either positive or negative organizational efficiency and performance.

Organizational Analysis

When conducting an analysis of any organization it is important to first analyze aspects related to its mission statement so as to understand where the organization stands in terms of the type of services it provides and how it chooses to provide them. Overall, the mission statement indicates that the hospital is attempting to adhere to distinct Christian tenets in its operational structure through the use of humanitarian and holistic methods of service. This is reflected (as mentioned earlier) in its charity programs which aids patients who can’t afford proper medical care through the use of medical aid waivers, grants and charitable donations.

Due to its nature as an institution of healthcare that has been around for the past 135 years it combines both traditional and modern methods in its organizational structure. This means the utilization of a Board of Trustees in order to oversee the hospitals future and finances while the hospitals administration department takes care of the various management related decisions needed to keep the hospital running.

In terms of its level of technological achievement the hospital is widely considered to be one of the best within the state of New York and is accredited as possessing some of the best staff, services and medical equipment within the country. In fact based on recent accreditation surveys examining St. Peter’s it is mentioned that its combination of both technological and holistic methods of treatment has greatly benefited its patients thus facilitating its reputation as one of the best medical institutions in the world. The leadership style of St. Peter utilizes an almost corporate type of leadership structure wherein leadership positions are separated between Senior Management and lower management positions with tasks and duties delegated to various department heads. Due to the various departments that are usually within a hospital as advanced as St. Peter’s this entails numerous department heads having to organize departments under their own discretion.

As for the workforce characteristics of the hospital, the staff is mainly composed of nurses and doctors under various departments with an assortment of support technicians for the various medical equipment in the facility. Other members of the hospital staff include maintenance and HR personnel and an assortment of administrative personnel.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  1. Is well run fiscally which results in stability for hospital funding
  2. Possesses state of the art medical equipment rivaling any other medical facility within the state and country
  3. Its accreditation and review board insures that only the best doctors and nurses work at the hospital
  4. Utilizes a holistic approach to treatment utilizing religious tenets and support groups which has resulted in better patient recovery times
  5. Is well funded through both private and public sources of funding
  6. Is considered to be one of the largest employers in Albany giving it a well established reputation within the local community

Weaknesses

  1. Notable low salary increases for employees such as nurses despite several years of experience.
  2. Disassociative management style where there is little contact between Senior Management and ordinary hospital staff
  3. Distinct lack of progressive management styles where experienced employees are given leadership roles within the organization
  4. Lack of positive reinforcement within the organization’s management structure based on employee complaints
  5. Current management style encourages high churn rates within the hospital which may lead to a pool of inexperienced personnel replacing disgruntled staff

Threats

  1. Presence of other state run facilities which provide similar services at a smaller cost
  2. Current financial crisis has reduced the amount of paying patients and has increased the number of charity cases
  3. Several department cutbacks have resulted in a minimized workforce in order to cut costs
  4. Current management style has been shown has causing distinct unrest in the worker populace
  5. High maintenance cost of equipment may result in further cutbacks
  6. Notable decrease in employee morale as noted by complaints filed regarding low salaries, disassociated management style
  7. Concentration of responsibility to particular department heads has been shown to create distinct problems in terms of communication efficiency and employee productivity.

Opportunities

  1. Current prevalence of employee desire to undertake more leadership roles could help increase hospital efficiency without having to bring in more outside employees
  2. The restructuring within the hospital as a direct result of the financial crisis provides sufficient impetus to establish new management styles that would help to increase employee morale within the hospital
  3. Reduction of staff on the basis of financial restraint also provides opportunities to slightly increase present salaries in order to alleviate employee grievances regarding inappropriate wage distributions
  4. Existing staff members can be retrained to take on more tasks and different responsibilities as a direct result of the workforce reduction which further facilitates the justification for significant salary increases.

Diagnosis of the Problem

When examining the case of St. Peter’s it becomes apparent that the management style utilized is ineffective in addressing the concerns of employees regarding salaries, leadership problems as well as noted concerns regarding proper communication between ordinary employees and upper management. As such what is needed is to create new strategies that would help in addressing such concerns in order to improve current management conditions within the hospital.

Statement of the Research Problem

This paper will investigate the managerial issues evident in St. Peter’s and examine whether managerial strategies negatively/positively impact employee morale and will determine how this affects work quality and effectiveness.

Review of Related Literature

How Different Management Styles Affect Employee Performance and Morale

An examination of recent literature examining the causes of low morale within the workplace reveals that in most cases poor leadership is the main cause of the problem

(Welch & Welch, 2008). This can come in various forms such as a manager that doesn’t try to establish sufficient rapport with employees, neglecting to address particular issues in the work place or a form of management style that employees have an adverse reaction to (Paton, 2009). Suffice it to say it is an established fact that adverse management styles affect employees negatively which has been shown to impact their overall performance (King, 2004).

Studies examining varying degrees of employee performance across several different companies reveal that employees performing the same type of job yet having different kinds of managers actually results in differing productivity results (Manley, 1998) (Lancaster, 1999). Employees with a manager that attempts to establish sufficient rapport, delegates responsibility appropriately and commends hard work have been shown to have increased levels of efficiency and quality and compared to employees who are under managers that are distinctly close-minded, standoffish and don’t take outside opinions into account in their managerial decisions (Lewis, 1999).

From a psychological point of view it is assumed that positive reinforcement actually causes employees to look at their work from a decidedly positive point of view and as a result creates a better working environment (Needleman, 2008). Managers that use management styles that are decidedly confrontational and forceful perpetuate decidedly negative working environments where employees become increasingly despondent with the type of work that they are doing (HYMOWITZ, 2007). This results in decreasing levels of performance on the part of employees which is further compounded by instances of depression, work related anxiety and stress which culminates in high employee churn rates within particular companies (Rupe, 2003).

One particular industry where this is the most evident is the call center industry located in the U.S., India and the Philippines which services various companies within the U.S (Sandberg, 2005). As evidenced by various studies examining high employee churn rates within particular call centers it was noticed that employees that were placed under an overly strict and distinctly close-minded team leader often suffered decreased levels of performance and performed poorly in meeting specific company metrics (Tebo, 2004). On the other hand, agents that were placed under a team leader that was more open, friendly and delegated responsibility throughout the team further enhancing each position resulted in increased performance, lower employee churn rates and showed a distinct improvement in being able to meet the set metrics of the company (Shellenbarger, 2001).

Resolving the issue of Bad Management Practices

In order to resolve the issue of bad management practices causing low employee morale there are four distinct changes that should be implemented in order to create a positive work environment and thus improve quality and efficiency. The first is creating a sufficient connection between upper management and lower level employees. It has been noted by numerous studies that there is an inherent need for employees to feel connected to management (Lovelace, 2001). This takes the form of having them know that managers know who they are, what their job is and how they contribute to the company (Kimes, 2008).

Not only that, this also involves informing employees that upper management is there to help employees should they encounter problems that they are not familiar with or require further assistance in completing (Silver, 1998). It must also be noted that one of the requirements in creating better connections with employees is spending time with them in the form of regular idea sharing meeting, lunches or other forms of interaction that encourage the development of an environment where thoughts and ideas are freely shared in between different levels of the company hierarchy (Dvorak, 2006).

The second change that should be implemented is creating sufficient methods of recognition for employees for the type of work that they do (Matías-Reche, 2010). Various studies examining employee attitudes towards work reveal that on average employees want recognition and a certain degree of acknowledgement for the type of work that they do (Davenport, 2010). While this can take the form of varying types of recognition such as certificates or events where they are recognized it is important to utilize such a method since it creates a positive work environment by making employees feel like they are worth something or that they are special (Forced rankings of employees bad for business, 2007).

All to often in certain companies it has been noted that increased levels of employee churn and depression are often connected with the fact that they feel like they are nothing more than a number in a book, unappreciated and unknown (Rude Managers Make For Bad Business, 1999). By establishing various methods of recognition this creates positive forms of encouragement for employees which makes their jobs much more tolerable and even increases their quality and productivity in light of the type of recognition they received (Witham, 1999) (Pesta, 2005).

What must also be understood is that from a psychological point of view acknowledgement acts as a positive reinforcement of work place attitudes which helps to encourage employees to be better at their jobs despite receiving the same type of pay (Bad managers can cause staff heart attacks, 2009) (BAD DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS, 2003). It is due to this that relationship management companies such as Convergys often recommend companies to establish various means of employee recognition beyond mere financial compensation so as to induce greater levels positive reinforcement and thus encourage better employee performance (Way, 2003).

The third type of change that should be implemented in order to improve work place practices is to challenge employees by giving them different roles and tasks in order to improve on the drudgery of everyday work practices (Buchanan, 2008). This is done by having employees take on distinct leadership roles for certain tasks, giving them different tasks which challenge their knowledge or enable them to acquire new skills which would open new career paths in future.

Such actions often involves instilling a sense of trust into employees wherein managers communicate that they trust the employee to do the job hence the fact they are giving it to them (Flynn, 1998). By doing so this encourages greater employee interest in their job and creates a workforce that has greater knowledge on an assortment of skills which would definitely improve quality and performance levels in workplace environments (Weissman, 1997).

The final type of change that should be implemented is to deal with bad employees in the workplace so as to create a good working environment. It has been noted by various HR studies that employees that tend to display various negative behaviors tend to create problems in work place environments that affect other employees (Caudron, 1999). While such issues are often overlooked by dissociative and non-communicative managers, effective management often involves needing to examine current employee attitudes and employ methods of improvement or termination in order to prevent such behaviors from occurring (How to break bad news, 2009).

What must be understood is that aside from poor management skills, bad co-workers are often cited as one of the problems regular employees have to deal with and as a result this leads to either declining levels of performance on their part or even resignation in the worst possible cases (Bad News Gets Easier, 2005). In order to resolve this issue managers need to regularly examine current workplace environments and determine whether particular employees can be seen as bad influences and act accordingly in order to prevent problems from cropping up in the immediate future (Bad Management Creates Cynical Employees, 2001).

Research Design

In order to determine the impact of managerial practices on employees and teams within St. Peter’s what this study will do is conduct a face to face anonymous interview of several current employees within the hospital and ask what practices are currently being utilized and what effect do they have on the overall level of morale. By doing so this study will be able to determine what practices are currently ineffective within the hospital and suggest alternative strategies that can be utilized in light of research done on the topic.

The limitations of the study will be set to current employees of St. Peter’s and the questions utilized will concern their current views regarding management styles utilized and whether it is effective in precipitating a good work place environment. Furthermore, the subjects in the study will be asked whether they are likely to remain in St. Peter’s in light of the current practices utilized or are they positioning themselves to eventually transfer out of the hospital due to the management style.

Presentation and Analysis of Data

The result of the study showed that despite the positive reviews St. Peter’s has been receiving as a medical institution there are several employees who note that there are several management problems within the organization itself which have negatively impacted employee morale. The first problem is the fact that there is a distinct lack of communication between upper management and ordinary employees. This is evidenced by the fact that the management department within the hospital unilaterally implemented changes to various procedures and methods of operation without first consulting members of the staff, nurses or doctors.

Not only does this create significant operational problems for members of the staff but it also creates procedural dilemmas where some of the new methods and procedures are actually not as effective as the ones that they had replaced. Not only that, this distinct lack of communication is further compounded by the fact that there is next to no method of acknowledgement within the hospital and Senior Management often berates rather than congratulates employees. In fact it was noted by one subject that was interviewed that managers often find more things to criticize employees about rather than thank them for their hard work.

It must also be noted that salary problems exist within the hospital wherein it was noted that nurses and staff members with several years of experience are often given the same type of salary as new hires within the hospital. This presents itself as an unfair situation which management has far been unable or rather unwilling to address. The final problem that was noted by the interviewed subjects was the fact that there was no method of integration within the hospital to place individuals into distinctive leadership roles or give them cyclical work types so as to get rid of the drudgery of work. These combined instances have resulted in not only increasing amounts of contempt at the management department of the hospital but it has actually led to cases of lower performance ratings and high churn rates within the hospital itself wherein more and more people are leaving for places with better management styles.

Recommendations

In light of the results of the study it is the recommendation of this paper that the 4 managerial changes (connection, recognition, challenging employees, removing/retraining bad employees) mentioned earlier in this paper be implemented so as to address the current problems that St. Peter’s is having. It must also be noted that management within the hospital itself may actually be unaware of the problems currently happening within the institution itself and as such aside from implementing the 4 managerial changes it is also important to address the issue of creating a means of self-evaluation within the hospital itself in order to determine whether current practices in management are actually effective in creating a good working environment.

It is the belief of this paper that the lack of a managerial oversight committee within the hospital itself was one of the primary reasons as to the development of problems in the first place. Based on the fact that the hospital apparently fails to uphold several of the tenets of good management this is indicative of the fact that there is no method of investigating whether the methods employed by management are good for employees or not. As such the sooner the 4 managerial changes are implemented as well as the creation of the oversight committee the sooner the hospital can get back on the right management track.

Implementation Plan

What must be done in order to resolve the current problems the hospital is facing is to first institute greater methods of connection between Senior Management and ordinary employees. This can come in the form of regular idea sharing meetings, cordial visits to various departments and other such methods which impart the idea that the management team within the hospital is approachable and willing to help. The next step is to establish new systems of recognition such as a monthly awards ceremony for employees that have been top performers for the month. Not only does this create greater rapport between management and ordinary employees but it is an effective method of positive reinforcement which encourages employees to improve the quality and speed of their work.

The next step to be implemented is to create rotating shifts and leadership roles within the hospital where people are given alternating responsibilities. This resolves the issue of employees feeling bored when working and creates a more knowledgeable workforce. Finally, management should take note of employees within the hospital who are sources of negative influences. By either retraining or dismissing such individuals this would enable a much more peaceful work environment which employees would appreciate greatly.

Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study it can be seen that there are clearly several problems that St. Peter’s needs to address in order to improve its management style. As seen in the paper there are numerous problems in relation to proper compensation, appropriate methods of communication, creation of a positive work environment and employee demoralization. In fact it can clearly be seen that the current management style within the hospital has a distinctly negative impact on team/employee morale due to its creation of a distinctly adverse working environment that is detrimental towards efficiency and productivity.

This has led to increase employee demoralization, high churn rates and the possibility that the hospital may in fact experience a situation where its pool of employees will increasingly be new and inexperienced as a direct result of its management style. In order to resolve this problem it is recommended that the hospital follow the 4 management changes indicated in this paper and create a managerial oversight committee so as to regularly examine current management styles and see whether they positively or negatively impact employee performance and make appropriate changed when need be.

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