1.“Our first priority is improving safety.
Some of our nursing homes have very high workers’ compensation costs, which
just kills the bottom line. Plus, it really gets in the way of providing
high-quality care. If workers are shuttling in and out of the nursing home,
they cannot build relationships with residents and they will have trouble
working together,” said our CEO, looking around the table. Braver than most of
us, Dominique honed in on the complex issues this simple idea raised. “Right
now we give administrators bonuses and promotions based on profitability. We
have to recognize that unsafe work practices may boost productivity; for
example, it may take longer to lift patients the safe way. In addition,
managers who are working on promoting safety will not be doing the marketing or
process improvement work that could boost their facility’s profits. It is
absolutely true that poor worker safety hurts the system’s profits, but it may not
hurt the nursing home’s profits. After all, the system, not the individual
nursing home, pays the workers’ compensation premium.” “We have to be smart
about this,” Casey interjected. “I recently read an article about a restaurant
chain that began paying managers a fixed wage plus a share of the restaurant’s
profits plus a bonus for reducing workers’ compensation claims (Puelz and Snow
1997). Some managers improved safety, but some apparently stopped reporting
minor accidents (which could get them and us in real trouble). We have to make
sure that we get managers to focus on making nursing homes safer places to
work, not on convincing workers not to file claims.” Discussion questions:
• Who is the principal and who is the agent
in this scenario?
• How is the agent better informed than the
• How do poorly aligned incentives affect
the system and individual administrators?
• What could the system do to convince
nursing home administrators to improve safety?
• Are financial incentives a part of the
action plan? Why or why not?
• How could nursing home administrators
signal to the company that they are improving safety?