Engaging Employees: The Importance of High-Performance Work Systems for Patient Safety

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Abstract

Objectives

To develop and test survey items that measure high-performance work systems (HPWSs), report psychometric characteristics of the survey, and examine associations between HPWSs and teamwork culture, safety culture, and overall patient safety grade.

Method

We reviewed literature to determine dimensions of HPWSs and then asked executives to tell us which dimensions they viewed as most important for safety and quality. We then created a HPWSs survey to measure the most important HPWSs dimensions. We administered an anonymous, electronic survey to employees with direct patient care working at a large hospital system in the Southern United States and looked for linkages between HPWSs, culture, and outcomes.

Results

Similarities existed for the HPWS practices viewed as most important by previous researchers and health-care executives. The HPWSs survey was found to be reliable, distinct from safety culture and teamwork culture based on a confirmatory factor analysis, and was the strongest predictor of the extent to which employees felt comfortable speaking up about patient safety problems as well as patient safety grade.

Conclusions

We used information from a literature review and executive input to create a reliable and valid HPWSs survey. Future research needs to examine whether HPWSs is associated with additional safety and quality outcomes.

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