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  • Josh Bennett

A Simple Tool to Address the Fire/EMS Recruitment and Retention Problem



What is the Workplace Scorecard?

The Workplace Scorecard is an assessment tool we've developed to represent your department's vital signs. The assessment comprises two parts. First, a survey focused on a set of 12 individual score areas that roll up into one cumulative score. It is conducted in strict confidence to ensure response accuracy. The second part is a series of voluntary interviews with providers and the leadership team, again, held in the strictest confidence. The survey and interviews indicate where your department is now, what areas need the most attention, and what may be the cause. This allows us to formulate a Problem Set and a Recommendation Set. The resulting vital signs, like any other vital sign, signal where your department's attention should be focused and give a point of reference for future evaluation. Ultimately, The Workplace Scorecard is most powerful when taken annually, much like any other health assessment. Taken once it's an excellent point of reference and will help identify challenges. When taken annually, trends are revealed, and progress is made clear. The Workplace Scorecard makes your department's workplace improvement initiatives S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).


How can the Workplace Scorecard help my agency or department??

At the most basic level, the Workplace Scorecard is a set of vital signs that helps departments determine where they should focus their attention. As a part of the assessment, we have conversations with your providers to help understand the survey portion of the assessment, letting us develop a Problem Set. Having a straightforward, organized, data-driven approach to your department's challenges allows leadership to put energy where it matters, putting a focus on the Problem Set directly. Not having a path forward is just shooting blindly and hoping for the best; with every missed attempt the department's providers are getting increasingly restless, frustrated, and disenfranchised.

By quickly addressing the items in the Problem Set, using targeted initiatives to reduce turnover and potentially recapture boomerang providers, your department will preserve institutional knowledge and potentially gain new skills by attracting new, and boomerang, providers. What's more is that there will be less need to fill vacancies, saving time and money on recruitment efforts.

Why does the workplace scorecard matter?

Beyond looking at one department year over year, the Workplace Scorecard allows us to look at departments of similar size and structure that score high overall, or in key areas, in order to identify departments that are doing a particularly good job addressing the challenges facing EMS today. By studying these departments and sharing strategies, tools, and techniques, we can help EMS at a national level. We can quickly transfer insights across the industry and more effectively combat burnout, and high churn rates, and improve recruitment. Ultimately this effort will save departments and municipalities money as well as save institutional knowledge. By crowdsourcing these insights we are simulating the most beneficial aspects of the boomerang effect in which a worker leaves an organization for another. The team member gains new skills and experience at the new organization and then returns to the original organization sometime in the future. When workers boomerang, they return with a host of new skills and experiences. Additionally, the original organization regains the institutional knowledge lost when the worker left. This boomerang process is more common in some industries than others. In technology it is very common and rapid; the average tenure in Silicon valley is 18 months. Few other industries could suffer such a high turnover rate. The Workplace Scorecard, however, allows Fire and EMS organizations across the country to reap some of these benefits without having to suffer such a frequent loss of providers or suffer the cost of trying to hire and train recruits.


What does the Workplace Scorecard measure?

The workplace Scorecard, as mentioned before is comprised of two parts that touch on 12 key areas. Each part is intended to shed light upon the other. The areas are:

  1. Engagement - A team member's willingness to participate in the organization’s activities, take action on behalf of the organization and its people, or take initiative to generate new projects, ideas, or opportunities.

  2. Quality of Care or Service - The perceived quality of patient care and/or fire service at the organization.

  3. Organizational Pride - How the team member feels about the organization and if they are willing to advocate for it.

  4. Prioritization (Leadership) - The perceived prioritization of responsibilities, duties, projects, training, and opportunities by immediate and extended leadership members.

  5. Removing Barriers - The leader's ability to remove barriers that prevent providers from delivering high-quality care, taking part in projects and training, or taking advantage of opportunities.

  6. Initiative - The team member's willingness and/or ability to propose new ideas, changes, projects, and opportunities.

  7. Growth - The team member's ability, perceived or real, to grow personally, and work on professional skills.

  8. Communication (Leadership) - How well or how completely, leadership shares information and whether that information is valuable to the providers.

  9. Well-being - Measures the team member's level of burnout.

  10. Career Goals - Measures the team member's ability, perceived or real, to advance in their role with or without leaving the organization.

  11. Retention - Measure the team member's willingness to move to another organization, leave the service entirely and check what proportion is actively, or passively seeking new opportunities.

  12. Training - Measures the perceived value of training and its frequency, including if the focus areas are appropriate.

Each focus area has a set of questions designed to discover what might drive a team member to leave, stay, burn out, to keep their strength despite the challenges. With the interviews and survey data combined, we can glean powerful insights into your provider's motivations. And from there we can help formulate plans.


How was the Workplace Scorecard developed?

We developed the Workplace Scorecard after our experiences with similar efforts in the tech sector. The efforts have, more often than not, proven successful but needed to be adjusted to fit the specific focus areas in EMS and Fire. The founders of PC3 then took the Workplace Scorecard to smaller departments for testing. Over the following years, the format has evolved, and the calculations were refined to what they are now. The results, year over year, have proven valuable to testing departments and from there we felt comfortable taking the Workplace Scorecard out of the "woodshed" and bring to any department of any size.


How long does it take?

The process, from start to finish, can take as little as 90 days. The speed to completion largely depends on how quickly we might schedule the interviews; this process often takes the longest. But we can generally expect one month for survey responses, one month for interviews, and one last month for processing. Often these timelines overlap, and the survey is released at the same time we submit a request for interviews. The survey closes around the time the interviews begin. Analysis of the data begins as soon as we start to receive data, though no insights or results are released until the process is complete and all the data has been analyzed.


What is the end result?

The end result is a complete report of data, the scores for each category, and a score for the entire data set. Additionally, we include any key quotes from providers that exemplify the insights, provided the quotes do not reveal who the provider's identity. Finally, an action plan, based on the insights and data. From there it's up to you execute on that plan. With an initial report, you will know where you stand. With each subsequent report, if you choose to continue your work with us, you'll know how you are progressing toward your objectives.


Conclusion

The Workplace Scorecard is rooted in a simple idea, if you want to know how the team is doing, ask them. Simply asking is not enough. In order to glean valuable insights, team members need to feel confident that their opinions will not impact their relationships or their careers. Likewise, leadership teams need to be able to move the needle, which implies measurability. The Workplace Scorecard allows us to deliver Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timebound insights. Our team leverages this data t create an Action Plan so leaders can make meaningful improvements for their team, and drive down costs.

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