Identifying Employee And Business Needs
Fallon Health is a not-for-profit health care services and insurance provider that consistently ranks among the nation’s top health plans, and it is the only health plan in Massachusetts to have been awarded “Excellent” accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for its HMO, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid products. The company attributes this success, in part, to its emphasis on employee engagement and developing its workforce, but delivering that training and providing career development presented many challenges.
First, the company had a diverse workforce – ranging from nurses and navigators to sales and customer service representatives – with distinct job responsibilities and skillsets.
Second, Fallon was growing and its business model was changing. In 2005, when Fallon’s human resources team began evaluating talent management solutions, the company had about 600 employees in a single location. Now the company has more than 1,000 employees in more than five locations across the state.
Third, employee engagement survey results indicated that there were concerns around the effectiveness of the performance evaluation process. The HR team performed focus groups to understand requirements, and ultimately, identified three themes: simplify, educate and automate.
A Focus On Performance Management
Fallon Health began by focusing on its performance evaluation process first. At the time, it relied on a manual, paper-based process that was extremely inefficient. The HR team wanted to streamline its evaluation approach and increase workforce productivity by aligning individual goals with corporate goals.
“We recognized that if we were all working toward competencies that were tied to our organizational objectives, business improvement would follow,” said Linda St. John, Fallon Health senior vice president and chief human resources officer.After evaluating several solutions, the company selected SumTotal Talent: Performance.
“We chose SumTotal for both its advanced technology platform and its customer-centric approach to service. SumTotal partnered with us and helped us redesign our system, not just replicate it,” St. John said. “We feel the annual performance and evaluation process is now fair and effective.”
Employees agree. In the first year after launching SumTotal’s solution in 2006, nearly 70% of employees rated the annual evaluation process as fair and consistent, an increase of 17% from the previous survey; 90% of managers completed their performance evaluations on time, a substantial improvement from the previous year; and 64% of employees felt that automating the performance management system improved efficiencies.
Employee satisfaction in the performance evaluation process has continued to grow. In the 2013 employee engagement survey, the largest improvement was in the composite score for performance evaluations. It jumped 6% over the previous year’s results to 92% satisfaction.
Tying Learning And Performance Together
Fallon Health has always been a learning-driven organization, providing a variety of internal and external training opportunities for employees, but the company didn’t have a dedicated training department. That changed in 2013 with the arrival of Scott Beaird, Fallon Health’s new director oftalent management.
For years, the company had been using a customized solution to capture compliance-only course completions. All other training was being tracked on paper at the administrator and departmental level, and the courses offered were all instructor-led, classroom training. Beaird said this approach wasn’t scalable or sustainable so the move toward a company-wide learning management system (LMS) was the next logical step given the growth of the business.
“If we were going to grow and truly embrace our learning heritage we needed to make some systemic changes to our approach to learning and development. We provide a lot of on-the-spot training to employees, and we needed a better way to deliver and track that information across the organization,” Beaird said. “Also, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to report out on that from a corporate perspective, and I knew as we continued to grow that was going to become a big challenge for us.”
Fallon implemented SumTotal Learn and branded the LMS as “The University,” called “The U” for short. Now all formal and informal training is captured in the LMS, including the company’s traditional in-classroom trainings, an entirely new set of virtual classes and a collection of 400 Skillsoft courses.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially to the soft-skills training. Our employees were starving for that information, and they’ve embraced The U,” Beaird said. “They now can take as much training as they want, whenever and wherever they want it. It truly has been transformational.”
The flexibility has been important for compliance training as well. For the first annual compliance training campaign using SumTotal Learn, Fallon achieved a 70% completion rate within three weeks of launching it and 100% of completions within six weeks.
“To have that level of employee response with minimal effort is fantastic. But just as importantly, the fact that we now have access to information and analytics at the touch of a button fundamentally changes the way we can adapt and make business decisions,” Beaird said.
The integration of the LMS with the performance management solution was a key reason Fallon selected SumTotal. The company can now provide training information at the point of evaluation.
“During our talent assessment process, we evaluate, at a senior level, all of our talent to identify future leaders and see where they fit into the picture. Now we will be able to create individual career development plans to help our employees be better at the jobs they currently have and be well prepared for the next step in their Fallon Health careers,” Beaird said.
In line with those goals, the company recently created a leadership development program, and The U is the foundation for all of it. It includes a New Leader Program for first-time managers, a Leadership Development Program to prepare high-potential managers for director roles, and an Executive Leadership Program to prepare employees for senior leadership positions.
Looking forward, Beaird said they hope to create mobileenabled courses that employees can quickly launch. For example, he envisions providing mini, 5- to 15-minute courses for their cultural awareness program for visiting clinicians to quickly review in the field before meeting with a patient.