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HRMI -- What Does It Mean for NIH?

NIH has a new set of initials to learn, the HRMI or human resource management index. What is it and what does it mean to the employees at NIH? The index can be thought of like the Consumer Price Index. The latter takes certain items in a market basket to gauge the overall trend of prices. It takes one cereal to be indicative of all cereals, one tire to be indicative of all tires, one of each category selected to be indicative of all the possible products in that category.

In the same manner, HRMI takes certain questions from a larger management assessment survey to gauge the "temperature" or climate of an organization. It asks questions about management, communication, organizational effectiveness and the like. In addition, the department last year added questions directly related to quality of worklife (ability of employees to use family friendly policies), although these questions are not factored into the trend line itself. The best use of HRMI is as an indicator of areas that may need further study or attention.

The HRMI was first administered in HHS in 1988 and then "normed" so that the department's responses were equivalent to 100. When SSA became a separate agency, the trend line was renormed. In the past, a random sample of surveys was sent out, but this year the trend line was again renormed so that answers from those organizations did not skew the results.

What were the results? Overall, the department had a significant positive increase in its trend line. NIH, as in prior years, saw its trend line rise above that of the department and this year also saw an increase in the overall trend line. "We should be pleased that it appears that NIH'ers believe this is a good place to work and that, overall, the areas of management measured by the index trend toward the positive," said Marvene Horwitz, deputy director of NIH's Office of Human Resources Management. There are also bar charts that portray the responses to each question. The NIH quality of worklife committee has posted the numerical results for the department and NIH at

Each IC also received a report that compared its responses with the department and provided information as to whether the response was considered high, average or low. Where more than 100 people responded to the survey, the ICs were provided bar charts that showed the breakdown of answers to each question.

"While all this is good news, we can never rest on our laurels," Horwitz concluded. "In analyzing the information that we received, the NIH QWL committee wants to concentrate on some areas across the NIH to enhance the already generally positive responses that we received. Those areas of emphasis will include communications and family friendly work policies and programs. The QWL committee will be happy to hear your suggestions on these and other areas through the email facility on its Web site."

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