A climate and culture survey of employees at state-run health care facilities found management to be the top reason employees would exit from their jobs in the next 12 months.

The 28-page report was published by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services while the survey was conducted by third-party contractor Alvarez & Marsal. Across seven facilities, 33% of the 1,100 employees responded to the survey, which asked about satisfaction with salaries, workload and opportunities for professional development. 

On a scale of 1-to-5, employees gave a 3.1 response to their overall satisfaction with their job. Still, nearly one-fifth of employees who responded said they are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months.

A spokesperson for DPHHS said Friday the survey results provide specific objectives to address moving forward.

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“DPHHS is aware that there are challenges at the state-run health care facilities, and this is why we hired A&M to conduct an independent assessment and develop long-range strategic plans. As part of their work, A&M conducted a climate and culture survey,” spokesperson Jon Ebelt said in an emailed statement. “The results of the survey give us specific insights to begin the process of working on these identified concerns. We want our employees to feel valued where they work and we are taking the feedback received seriously.”

Alvarez & Marsal were contracted earlier this year as a part of a reorganization process within the state health department. The company arrived as one facility in particular — the Montana State Hospital — had reached a full-blown crisis. For months, staff had called on the state health department to address management at the facility, which they said was driving a staff exodus. In April, after Alvarez & Marsal hit the ground in Warm Springs, state hospital administrator Kyle Fouts was moved to a different facility. 

But the climate and culture survey shows management is the top reason for employees at all facilities considering a departure from their jobs in the next 12 months, with 17% of respondents. Ebelt did not respond to a question Friday of whether the department intends to shake up management at other facilities as it did with Fouts as a result of the survey.

Eighteen percent of all respondents said they “intend” to leave their job within the next 12 months. The group with the highest percentage of people intending to leave their jobs, at 71%, are advanced practice registered nurses. 

In the next highest category, as many people are planning to leave for retirement as there are employees planning to leave due low morale and a toxic environment (14%). Lack of accountability and ethics among staff is the third-most reported reason employees are thinking of looking for different jobs, according to the report. 

And while Montana State Hospital has seen the most public fallout from internal issues, the Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center in Lewistown reported the highest percentage of employees “plan on leaving” the facility at 35% of the respondents. 

Conversely, training and increased wages were the top results when employees were asked for ideas to better recruit and retain employees.

Across all facilities, “accomplishment” ranked the highest among employees’ satisfaction at their respective facilities.

The facilities included the Montana State Hospital, Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center, Intensive Behavioral Center, Montana Chemical Dependency Center, Columbia Falls Montana Veterans’ Home, Southwest Montana Veterans’ Home and Eastern Montana Veterans’ Home.  

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