Healing Environments Help Reduce Turnover

Oct. 1, 2003
Data from The Center for Health Design's Pebble Project research initiative supports the idea that if the hospital workplace is designed to support healing and well-being, nurses are less likely to leave. Nurse turnover rates dropped from 23 percent to 3.8 percent—far below the national average of 17 percent—after two inpatient units were renovated at The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI. New design features include improved lighting, computer work stations outside of patient rooms, artwork and other positive distractions, plus improved access to the outdoors. Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI, saw its nurse turnover rates drop below 12 percent after opening its new building. Design features include all private rooms, and an "open" design that makes elevators more visible and allows multiple level views. Integration of natural elements, such as light, plants and gardens, as well as the open feel of an atrium provide a peaceful, comfortable setting for patients and visitors. "Nurses are not only leaving their jobs, they're leaving the profession," notes Rosalyn Cama, FASID, chair of The Center for Health Design's board of directors and president of CAMA Inc., New Haven, CT. "This is a serious issue for the healthcare industry that must be addressed, in part, by improving the place in which nurses work." Karmanos and Bronson are both part of The Center for Health Design's Pebble Project, a research initiative currently made up of 12 providers, whose purpose is to create a ripple effect in the healthcare community by providing researched and documented examples of healthcare facilities whose design has made a difference in the quality of care and financial performance of the institution.Marketing Hits All-time HighMarketing spending among architecture, engineering, planning and environmental consulting firms has reached an all-time high of 5.3 percent of net service revenue, an increase of 18 percent over the 4.5 percent reported in 2002. According to ZweigWhite's 2003 "Marketing Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms, A/E firms are investing a greater percentage of net service revenue (gross revenue minus subconsultants' fees and reimbursable expenses) than ever before, an especially notable statistic in light of the economic difficulties many firms have been facing over the past couple of years."You have to spend money on marketing in this industry if you want to have a successful, growing firm," says Mark Goodale, a principal with ZweigWhite's marketing and strategic planning consulting business. "The competition is as fierce as we've ever seen it, and if you can't distinguish yourself from other companies, you're dead in the water."A/E firms' total marketing spending has increased by 36 percent since ZweigWhite first started tracking the statistic in 1998. Total marketing spending includes marketing labor (for both full-time dedicated marketing staff and marketing time for other employees) and all other marketing-related expenses associated with proposals, direct mail, advertising and other activities.More than a third of firm leaders (39 percent) are expecting to continue to increase their marketing spending over the next year. This isn't at all surprising to Goodale, who says that we can expect marketing budgets to continue to rise and then level off once the economy shows consistent signs of strengthening.AIA, IFMA Reach AgreementThe American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Facility Management Professional Interest Area (FM PIA) has reached a collaboration agreement with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). Five years in the making, the collaboration will allow attendees of IFMA's annual conference, World Workplace 2003, to gain continuing education credits for all of the sessions offered at the conference, as well as open the door to a greater professional understanding between building owners, their facility managers and the architects they hire. World Workplace 2003 will be held October 19 to 20 at the Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX."Facility managers and architects can learn a lot from each other, and World Workplace 2003 is the first of what we expect to be many opportunities for both groups to come together as partners. This collaboration will produce a greater body of knowledge for both groups, and will lead to better, more productive and valuable working relationships in the future," said Rod Stevens, past chair of the AIA FM PIA.The AIA has created one track of educational sessions to be incorporated into the World Workplace program, and all IFMA educational sessions are also approved for continuing education credits by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). The focus for the AIA-provided sessions is design and collaboration.How High-Tech Companies Use Office SpaceResearch conducted by Reel Grobman & Associates, an interior design and planning firm based in San Jose, CA, in conjunction with IFMA's Silicon Valley chapter, shows frequent use of non-traditional office space in high-tech companies located in Silicon Valley. The survey of software, hardware and other high-tech companies based in the San Jose/Silicon Valley area during the second quarter of 2002, indicates that more than three-quarters of the responding companies (76 percent) use some sort of alternative officing concept in their offices. By far, telecommuting was the most common form of alternative arrangement, used by approximately two-thirds of responding companies. Hoteling—also termed "unassigned work stations" and characterized by workspaces that allow employees to change seating as needed—was mentioned by 41 percent of respondents. Companies also reported using team spaces or shared offices in their office arrangements, both of which were cited by approximately one-third of respondents. Other survey findings include:
  • Spaces for eating and exercise are the norm. Nearly all of the responding companies reported dedicating a portion of their office space to amenities such as cafeterias, exercise facilities or company stores. For the companies that maintained these amenities, the most popular are cafeterias and exercise facilities. Nearly one-third of companies with amenities also reported having company stores and auditoriums.

  • Employees are constantly moving. Approximately one-fifth of responding companies experienced churn rates in excess of 50 percent. More than one-third posted a churn rate ranging between 25 percent and 50 percent and a somewhat higher percentage of companies posted a churn rate between zero percent and 25 percent.

  • Working in a big company does not guarantee working in a big office. Though the rentable square footage each company allows per staff member varies by type of organization, between 250 and 300 square feet was the most common amount allocated to each employee. By contrast, companies in the survey that allocated 400 square feet or more per employee, the most square footage in the survey, were all mid-size firms in terms of staff and total amount of occupied office space. Additionally, two-thirds of the companies that reported allocating the most rentable square footage per employee qualified as the smallest firms in the sample.

  • Offices versus cubicles—is there a correct ratio? Just less than one-fifth of respondents reported that their organizations had a mix of 50 percent offices and 50 percent cubicles. An equal number of companies showed a mix of 20 percent offices and 80 percent cubicles. And a smaller number of respondents said that offices accounted for 90 percent or more of their available workspace.

    The remaining companies offered office compositions that fell between these two extremes indicating that every company creates their own standards.

  • Workspace sizes are similar, but who occupies the spaces aren't. Despite differences in allocation of space, a majority of companies maintain a predominant office size of 10 feet by 12 feet. Just less than half of companies maintain a standard cubicle size of eight feet by eight feet. However, the type of staff members who occupy those offices and cubicles varied greatly by company. While most executive staff members tended to occupy offices, a smaller percentage reported seating at least some executive staff in cubicles along with the rest of the employees.

  • Most companies project limited employee growth. Despite differences in size and business type, most companies are predicting staff levels to stay relatively flat this year.
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