Orbis; process innovation by working smarter

2010 – Orbis Care, was created from a merger of three Limburg homecare institutions; it has 5500 employees and is spread over 17 locations in the Dutch province Limburg. The main problems after the merger turned out to be the different ways of controlling the workers, many different working methods (this creates a need for standardization of the operations) and a decrease in employee satisfaction. In addition there was need to maintain or better increase labor productivity. This was related to a strong hazing of the workforce, the progressive aging of the population, resulting in an increasing demand for care. Orbis went to work with ‘the optimization of the operation by working smarter’. Orbis has been able to perform this project with the grant from ESF, action E.

Why this is workplace innovation
The optimization of operation by working smarter within Orbis Homecare is a good example of workplace innovation.
An important aspect is the chosen approach. The multidisciplinary participation of employees increases the learning and acceptance. Through the implementation of several new working methods and systems, Orbis managed to increase employee satisfaction (particularly by reducing the administrative burden), to enhance labor productivity (by optimizing operations, leading to time savings), to rise client satisfaction (by implementing fixed routes with the same nursing employees).

The redesign and structuring of work processes in order to facilitate employees to work more efficiently and to enhance control options.

Orbis has developed an implementation plan with the following elements:
1) Analysis of the issues relating to the labor productivity
Through multidisciplinary workshops bottlenecks for each step in the work process were detected. Both the strengths and weaknesses of the three merged organizations were appointed. The problems regarding labor productivity were mainly in the different ways of management and the associated various working methods. There was a lack of standardization of work processes and the administrative burden of caregivers was high.
2) Analysis of the workplace innovation potential
To address this, first the participation of the workers concerned was important. In addition, the project had to be organized multi-disciplinary and cross-departmental. Conditions for the new working methods, were uniformity in critical process steps and also clear and short lines of communication. The responsibility of the Head of the Unit was to control, monitor and evaluate the process.
The management model at a more detailed level was determined by small teams. These teams each had their own comprehensive task. There were made clear descriptions for different jobs. And the automated systems had to suite better to the tasks of the employees.
3) Formulating measurable objectives
The main objective at Orbis was: the redesign and structuring of labor processes, so that employees can function optimally, can work more efficiently and control options are enhanced.
In addition, three sub-goals have been formulated: the increase of the net labor productivity, the increase of the employee satisfaction and the increase of the customers satisfaction.


• An increase in labor productivity of 6.6% after the first pilot and an increase of 10.6% after the second pilot. This increase leads to a reduction of the use of staff, which delivered savings to € 56,000 per month and thereby to an increase of the sales.
• An increase in employee satisfaction by 9.1% after the first pilot and an increase of 19% after the second pilot. This increase is mainly due to the reduced administrative burden in the care and the service and in the optimization of the rosters so that the schedule is more transparent. The rosters were more transparent by making  day-schedules instead of a week-schedules. For the employees this delivered more flexibility. The increased employee satisfaction also resulted in a higher degree of motivation. Finally the increase in employee satisfaction creates employment retention (also for future employees).
• An increase in customer satisfaction, since customers now have one focal point and there is a smaller number of permanent nurses now. In addition, clients often see the happy faces by higher employee satisfaction.


Orbis had chosen to run the two pilots independently. They have noticed that the first pilot had a significant learning effect. Then they have taken these experiences in the second pilot to run it smoothly.


For more information about the organization, visit www.orbisconcern.nl.
The presentation (in Dutch): ‘ESF E Orbis home care’ by Marion Verhoeven can be found on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs Agency: www.agentschapszw.nl.