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On-the-job training and performance is significantly impacted by the work environment in hospitals, research shows.


Charles Sturt University research analysed work environment, attitude towards organisational change, training effectiveness, organisation citizenship behaviour, non-mandatory training and intention to quit and how these influenced nurses’ job performance. The study involved 486 participants from public hospitals in the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

“The key finding was that the work environment really significantly impacted on the ability of nurses to do their job,” CSU PhD candidate Joanna Carlisle said. “Anecdotally there is the perception that nurses had a lot of training needs but organisational culture and effectiveness play an important role.”

The study found that several significant relationships existed between the factors.

An increase in the effectiveness of training provided by hospitals increased the level of nurses’ job performance. However the relationship between effective training and job performance was significantly impacted by the work environment in the hospital, Ms Carlisle said. “Is there training? Is it effective? Is the environment culture supportive of that?”

A negative work environment could mean that training did not improve nurses’ performance no matter how effectively it was delivered, Ms Carlisle said.

The effectiveness of training was also dependent on the attitudes of nurses and organisational culture.

“The attitude of nurses to organisational change, whether positive or negative, alters the level of their job performance. It was the attitude of nurses whether they were accepting, fearful or cynical,” Ms Carlisle said.

High levels of effective training in hospitals led to high levels of organisational citizenship behaviour, the research showed.

“Organisational citizenship behaviour is advocacy for the organisation. Do they encourage people to work there? Do they promote their organisation? Are they ‘proud’ of their organisation? Where the levels of organisational citizenship behaviour are low in a hospital the intention of nurses to quit is high.”

The study results indicated an all-encompassing approach should be used when managing job performance of nurses, Ms Carlisle said.

“Hospital management and human resource departments should start looking at a more holistic approach to improving job performance and organisational development.”

Industry seemed to regard training and development as the “go-to-fix-it response for poor performance, she said.

“Shifting focus to ensure training provided is effective but also considers the organisational elements that can influence job performance significantly. Ask: are nurses not being supported in their work? Do they not get on well with their colleagues? Is it a team culture? We are talking about looking at the bigger picture.”

Ms Carlisle hopes to undertake future research in the area with plans to develop a holistic framework that could be used to assess hospital environment and training. “This framework can then be used as a model to identify areas in need of improvement, leading to less hindrances and allowing job performance to increase.”

 Job performance of nurses in the Australian public hospitals: a psychometric analysis of training effectiveness, work environment and organisational change.