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Business Research Methods Part II
QNT/HC561 Applied Business in Research and Statistics in Health Care
April 30, 2012

Business Research Methods Part II
Kaiser Permanente, an integrated managed care consortium, operates with 181,900 employees. The organization’s $47.9 billion in operating revenues makes the company lucrative. Even so, the health care corporation is faced with the challenge of employee performance that seems to affect customer satisfaction. Management’s growing concern regarding the substandard level of employee performance has been the reason leadership initiated an action plan. With the help of research methods the intent is to determine the underlying problem thus improving employee performance. Kaiser Permanente will explore and design an employee satisfaction survey questionnaire to determine employees’ attitude toward the job. The uses of survey information to measure performance while “Understanding employee perceptions of certain leadership practices (customer orientation, quality focus, training, and involvement); along with adequate information/job knowledge, teamwork, satisfaction, and retention, are most often related to customer and business performance measures” (Kam & Brooks, 1998, p. 2).
From the investigative measure using both the intranet and personal interview the research questions structured to help managerial decision-making in solving substandard employee performance that has been negatively affecting customer satisfaction. The questionnaire is presented to employees who are the participants in the study.
Communications
The communications process of surveying measures needs to ensure collected information is ideal and accurate for the desired research study. In this case the survey is to understand why Kaiser Permanente employees’ performance is substandard by explicitly asking about employee satisfaction and engagement. In addition, the hope is that the survey will show how to improve employee performance, which subsequently should increase customer satisfaction. Any of three surveying methods could be used in this instance such as technological, personal interview, or survey (interview with intranet e-mail).
Employee Satsifaction Survey
For the reasons mentioned above, Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest health care

corporation, performed an employee satisfaction survey to obtain a general idea of their

employee’s perception of their job. Kaiser Permanente’s research team designed a survey of

questions to gather information in six main areas such as job satisfaction/involvement, employee

benefits/pay, workload, and mission/motivation. The overall response rate at the first

Kaiser facility surveyed was 49%.

Strongly Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly
Agree Disagree

31% 54% 12% 3% 1% My work is meaningful.

7 49 20 15 9 During a typical week, I feel stressed at work.

20 57 15 6 3 I am happy with my salary.

22 54 13 7 4 My workload is reasonable.

13 58 23 11 7 I feel productive in my role at Kaiser Permanente.

9 53 19 12 6 I am satisfied with employee benefits.

13 44 19 15 9 I understand Kaiser Permanente’s priorities.

12 38 20 20 10 I am involved in the decisions concerning my job.

10 39 21 18 13 Job-related education opportunities are provided.

7 38 26 18 12 I attend an adequate number of staff meetings.

21 54 13 5 3 I have the opportunity to get promoted at my job.

Data Classification
After survey completion, classification of the information is paramount to the research design and process. In data collection, scales of measurements “refer to ways in which variables/numbers are defined and categorized. Each scale of measurement has certain properties which determine the appropriateness for use of certain statistical analyses” ("Introduction To Measurement And Statistics," 2012).
Scales of measurement are classified in order of increasing power. Nominal scales are statistically the weakest and do not suggest order, distance relationship, or arithmetic origin (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). Nominal scales are best for “exploratory research work where the objective is to uncover relationships rather than secure precise measurements” (Cooper & Schindler, 2008 p. 284). An example of a nominal scale measurement is the coding of respondents in the questionnaire as (1) for female and (2) for males.
Ordinal scales allow ranking between two aspects but “there is no objective distance between any two points on the subjective scale” (Monash University, 2011). For example, A is greater than B, but the degree of difference between the two is unknown when using an ordinal scale. Interval scales incorporate the concepts of both nominal and ordinal scales with the added concept of “equidistant points between each of the scale elements” (Monash University, 2011). According to Monash University (2011), “the standard survey rating scale is an interval scale.”
The most powerful and last scales of measurements are ratio scales. Ratio scales incorporate the elements of the aforementioned scales and also have a true or absolute zero point (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). The Employee Satisfaction Survey, conducted at Kaiser Permanente, gave insight about the way employees viewed their jobs. These results can yield opportunities for statistical data analysis.
Benefits of Survey Technology
Technological availability of performing a survey allows easy access to these prospective participants through e-mails, fax, telephones, intranet, and the Internet. Computer-delivered self-administered questionnaires (CASIs) permit data sample collection opportunity from sources more dispersed and expanded geographic (inter/national) coverage with easy accessibility, shortened turnaround of results, and at a lower cost. Like any other research designs, there are limitations; total exclusion of errors is unlikely. Errors exist that result from response error, participant bias, and skewed, “measurement questions and survey instruments, interviewers and participants”. (Cooper, & Schindler, 2008, p. 215).
Survey by Personal Interview
Personal interview survey is a two-way dialogue between the interviewer and participants. The selected interview cause is for proximity to employee and face-to-face communication. This allows the surveyor to assess body language, gestures, clear up uncertainties, answer additional questions, increase participant’s motivation through confirmation of self importance, and it adds voice depth to the survey. “The greatest value [of this method] lies in the depth of information and detail that can be secured.” (Cooper, & Schindler, 2008, p. 235). More information is acquired to validate the research objective, increase control, language adjustment if needed, and if skewing becomes evident the use of a control is permissible. Personal interviewing has its limitations, which includes cost, time consumption, unreachable prospects, and interviewer bias, such as influencing behaviors, and physical presence bias.

Choosing Research Methods
A clear-cut selection ideal for this research may not be easily revealed. Therefore, maximum effect can result by incorporating a self-administered survey – intranet and personal interviewing to gather data for this research study. The effect of the survey will first employ a pre-testing practice. The intranet will provide employees with easy access and time to respond to the questions appropriately. Because of the proximity of participants there is the need to become interactive, this way participants becomes relevant and are more willing to participate in the survey.
Research questions: o How can employee performance improve? o How will employee performance increase customers’ and the company’s satisfaction? o What are the factors contributing to employee mediocre performance?
Personal interview - Employee performance Survey Questionnaire
Department _____________ (or confidentiality please do not sign this survey) Date _________
1) How long have you worked with the Kaiser Permanente? Please circle one that is applicable.
a) Less than 1-year b) 1 - 3 years c) 3 – 5 years d) 5 - 10 years e) more than 10 years
2-a) Would you describe your job functions at Kaiser Permanente as satisfactory?
Yes___ No__

2-b) If no, briefly explain why below:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3) Your basic annual salary matches up your job responsibilities. Yes ________ No _________
4) Are you provided with the opportunity to work overtime at Kaiser Permanente? Yes __ No__
5) List briefly three of the top reasons you like working for Kaiser Permanente
1_______________________________________________________________________2_______________________________________________________________________3_______________________________________________________________________
6) What three aspect of the organization or your job would you like to be changed (Explain briefly)
1_______________________________________________________________________2_______________________________________________________________________3_______________________________________________________________________
Please answer the following questions using the categorical scale below:
* Strongly disagree * Disagree * Agree * Strongly disagree
7) You believe you are of value to Kaiser Permanente ________________________________
8) You have not had more than three formal customer complaints to your boss within the past year. _______________________________________________________________________
9) You have a positive professional relationship with your boss at work____________________
10) You have a positive relationship with all or almost of your co-workers__________________
11) You have a positive relationship with all or almost customers at Kaiser Permanente _______
12) You are motivated to work your best always when working for this organization__________
13) The average employee’s has been performing above Kaiser Permanente standard _________
14) The relationship between employees, supervisors, and management at Kaiser Permanente is always maintained at a professional level at work.______________________________________
15) Communication among coworkers, supervisors, and management within the organization is clear, adequate, respectful, frequent, and professional __________________________________
16) Your boss treats all employees equally and fairly as it relates to work, promotions, and with evaluation of employee’s performance ______________________________________________
17) What are three things do you like most about your immediate boss or management?
1_______________________________________________________________________2_______________________________________________________________________3_______________________________________________________________________

18) What three things about your immediate boss or management you would change?
1_______________________________________________________________________2_______________________________________________________________________3_______________________________________________________________________
Answer the following questions about Kaiser Permanente using the following categorical scale:
* 0 = unacceptable * 1= poor * 2= fair * 3 = good * 4 = excellent
19) Kaiser Permanente uses methods and recognizes its employees’ personal milestones_______
20) Evaluate and reward employees’ performance and hard work effectively ________________
21) This organization contributes a sufficient amount for health care costs of it employees_____
22) This organization addresses life problems that get in the way of employees performance ___
23) Provide and encourage its employees to engage in recreational activities ________________
24) Provides working conditions appropriate for each department and its staff _______________
25) Provide training and improvement opportunities to all employees______________________
26) Presents job aspects that needs improvement and growth satisfactory for its employees _____________________________________________________________________________
27) The degree of employee’s interactions and performance with customers are beneficial for Kaiser Permanente business._____________________________________________________
28) Employees have helped and pleased customers in a professional manner while adhering to the goals and guidelines of the organization.__________________________________________
29) Employees have been collaborative, active, supportive, and substantially involved in improving the organization and customer satisfaction. __________________________________
30) Your personal objectives match with the organization’s; increase customer satisfaction.____________________________________________________________________
31) Your long-term goals coincide with decrease customer complaints and employee termination.____________________________________________________________________
32) Customers should be very satisfied with the level of services rendered by employees at Kaiser Permanente.______________________________________________________________
33) There is no need for any development at Kaiser Permanente because employees and customers are satisfied and pleased _________________________________________________
Additional comments: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Conclusion
Kaiser Permanente wants to remain competitive and financially successful for many years to come. Leadership realizes stay ahead of the competition and provides excellent care to the organization’s patients; employees must be engaged in their work. By surveying each employee, Kaiser Permanente hopes to improve and implement changes that will build a culture of satisfaction in both employees and their customers.

References
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2008). Business Research Methods (9th ed.). New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Introduction to Measurements and Statistics. (2012). http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/statwhatis.html. Retrieved on April 30,2012.
Kam Sherilyn M., Brooks Scott M. (1998) Touching the Customer by Understanding Employees: The Permanente Journal; Preliminary Linkage Research Findings from Four Regions of Kaiser Permanente vol. 2, No 2.
Monash University. (2011). Research Methods-Measurement Scales. http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~smarkham/resources/scaling.htm. Retrieved on April 30, 2012.

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