Employee performance is momentous as it can directly influence organizational outputs and measurable success. Perhaps now more than ever, job stress poses a threat to the performance of workers and, in turn, to their organization. Job stress is any harmful physical or emotional response that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the worker’s capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. This can lead to poor health and possible injury on the job. Because of these reasons, it is vital for healthcare organizations to have significant understanding of the variables that can lead to increased employee performance and those that can be detrimental to it.
Since April 2004, President George W. Bush has called for widespread use of health information technology (HIT), and electronic health records (EHRs) to be used by 2014. This national goal encourages greater use of electronic medical records (EMRs) allowing physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and insurers to share medical information. He also created an executive order creating the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology position. In July 2004, the National Coordinator presented his Framework for Strategic Action establishing four goals (each with three objectives) for national adoption of HIT (Rash, M.C.) he above directive requires the implementation of EMRs at such a hurried pace that it will heighten the need for healthcare organizations to better understand the performance of their information technology (IT) workers.
Although job stress can happen in different work environments, reports conclude that information technology professionals are particularly susceptible. In an Information Week report (McGee 1996), it states that virtual office technology (e.g., home PCs and laptops with modems, faxes, pagers and cellular phones) are at a greater-than-ever demand to keep up with alteration in technology chips with the problem of job stress among technology professionals. Another IT periodical (Fischer 1998) reported the results of a survey of 1,180 networking professionals in which 94% of respondents indicated they work in deadline or crisis mode at least some of the time. In addition, 84% of the respondents reported that they bring work home on work nights and on weekends at least some of the time. Their job responsibility calls for them to be ‘on-call’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to fulfill the constant functioning of technologies. This can be extremely stressful to their mental health, and ultimately lead to increased employee absenteeism.
According to the 2004 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey polling 305 U.S human resource executives, the rate of absenteeism has climbed to a five-year high with last-minute no-shows costing organizations an average of $610 per employee. Most employees who fail to show up for work, however, are not physically ill, according to the survey. In fact, only 38 percent of unscheduled absences are due to personal illness, while 62 percent are for other reasons, including family issues, personal needs, and stress and entitlement mentality.
These findings are essential for Trinity Health to keep in mind. In 2000, their board began a restructuring plan of the system’s health care delivery by developing a new program, Project Genesis, which was the implementation of computer systems throughout Trinity Health. The primary goals of the program were to increase patient safety and quality of care, and increase supply chain efficiencies through comprehensive spending and improve financial performance. With over $300 million invested into the Project Genesis initiative, the idea of increasing employee performance while keeping employee absenteeism to a minimum is of the utmost importance to Trinity Health.
The study’s hypothesis were surrounded around the issues of absenteeism and employee performances. First, to what extent does job stress, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, wellness initiatives, distributive and procedural unfairness, contribute to absenteeism. Second, to what extent job stress, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and wellness initiatives contribute to employee performance. Ten separate highly structured discussions with 46 employees along with 11 semi-structured elite interviews were conducted by the Trinity Information Services Clinical Applications department.
The implementation of the study was very important, seeing as the independent variables tested are common in workplaces and have powerful influences on employee performance and absenteeism. Researching employee performance is significant to have a better understanding of the variables that can lead to increased employee performance and those that can be detrimental to it. Many factors influence employee performance including the negative relationship with job stress, and the positive relationships with organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and wellness initiatives. Absenteeism can be extremely costly and can be difficult to control in any organization. This study is especially important because it provides into possible relationships and through a greater understanding of the factors that have led to higher absenteeism, may be able to minimize absenteeism.
Pam Meyers, Senior Product Manager, interviewed product support managers and various systems analysts within the company to determine analysis of Trinity Information Services Clinical Applications. To link data with organization absence records, the 10 product support managers provided perceived absenteeism on their respected employees. Each employee was interviewed, having them answer 9 questions that focused specifically on perceived absenteeism and employee performance.
After the interviews, it was determined that they all felt that job stress created a negative influence on employee performance and that job stress created a postive influence on absenteeism. However, the other dependent variables neither significantly influenced absenteeism nor employee performance. It is evident from the results of the regression analyses that the data clearly suggest that distributive unfairness, procedural unfairness, job commitment, job satisfaction, job stress, and wellness initiatives do not significantly influence absenteeism or employee performance.
However, with Trinity Health, the results show that job stress has a significant positive relationship towards absenteeism, and that job stress has a significant negative relationship towards employee performance. Thus, a manager should realize that the higher amount of job stress the employee has, the more often the employee will be absent from work – scheduled or unscheduled. Also, when the employee has a higher amount of job stress the employee has, the employee’s level of performance will drop.
From viewing these results, the managers should be sensitive to the amount of job stress the employee has. In order to decrease absenteeism and increase employee performance, the manager should make great efforts to decrease the job stress of his/her employees. Because the other hypotheses were not supported, based on the results of this study, the manager can be assured that job satisfaction, distributive unfairness, procedural unfairness, wellness initiatives, organizational commitment do not affect the employee’s performance and absenteeism at Trinity Information Services. Therefore, the manager should place his or her emphasis on decreasing job stress.
Like most other studies, this study has limitations. First, a colleague at Trinity Information Services conducted the discussions. Study participants may not have answered the questions honestly because they knew one of their co-workers would be reviewing their answers. Also, this study asked the manager’s perceptions of the employees on absenteeism and employee performance. Hard absenteeism and employee performance data was not used. Raw data and perceptions can often be different. If the manager’s perceptions on absenteeism and employee performance were not the same as the actual data, the results of this survey may not be accurate.
Another concern is the size of the sample. Perhaps if a larger number of people were involved, the results may have varied. In a smaller sample size, if one participant answered the questions very different than the majority of participants, results could become skewed based on the one participant. In a larger sample size, a skewed participant answer would be as influential. Some other possible influences in the study included the idea that more women than men participated in the study. Also, the issue of unscheduled and scheduled absences were not differentiated. Both of these issues could be further analyzed for better results.
Despite these limitations, the findings have implications for practical and future research. The current study suggests that job stress significantly affects employee performance and absenteeism, but job satisfaction, wellness initiatives, organization commitment, distributive unfairness, and procedural unfairness do not affect employee performance and absenteeism. Hence, managers should focus more on job stress to increase employee performance and decrease absenteeism.