Ask Your Workforce What Matters

Ask Your Workforce What Matters. Staff retention can be increased by asking staff about concrete things that matter to them, responding to those that can be addressed, and providing information on all. See the Listening section on the Retention page for the "Four Questions" and "Twelve Questions" referenced below.


Jan Feingold, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Outpatient and Community-Based Services Division at High Point Treatment Center, used the Four Questions to survey Outpatient staff. She went to each site and learned through the survey what each individual site's concerns were, as well as any overall divisional concerns. Among the items staff wanted to address:

  • How HPTC compares on salaries, statewide
  • Physicians' notes were difficult to read
  • Heating and air-conditioning needed better monitoring
  • Different trainings and education days

In response to these items HPTC management took the following steps:

  • Salary information was obtained from the Association for Behavioral Health and shared with staff
  • Voice recognition software (Dragon) was provided to physicians
  • Facilities staff were able to better monitor the temperature
  • Training and Education days were revised

HPTC compared information for those who left in the second quarter of the year after the whole-staff survey, with those who left in the second quarter following implementation of changes.

  • There was a 50% decrease in staff leaving from the first year to the next.
  • In exit interviews, those who left in the first year reported reasons which had to do with working at the agency, while in the next year, none left for a reason having to do with the agency.

Jan Feingold points out that while there were staff requests which management was not able to do something about, staff were glad for those things that could be done, and to receive information about those that could not.

Bill Sinton, Director at Northeast Behavioral Health's Boston Treatment Center (Detox) used the "Twelve Questions" to gauge the satisfaction of workers and find out what might need changing. He put the written survey in all 76 employee mailboxes. Answers were returned anonymously.

The responses were quite positive, and in particular he noted the answers to the following questions were positive:

  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition of praise for doing good work?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  • At work do your opinions seem to count?

In this case, the feedback reinforced the existing practices, and encouraged NEBH to recommit to building a culture of supportive listening and staff encouragement.