Covidien Healthcare

The Company:

Covidien Healthcare—Macon, Georgia

The Challenge:

Streamlining the hiring process while saving time and money

The Solution:

WorkKeys® job profiling and skills assessment

The Results:

A per-person hiring cost reduction of more than $1,500, improved employee efficiency and productivity, and reduced waste

Covidien Healthcare is a global healthcare products manufacturer and distributor, creating products for some of the industry’s top brands in medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and medical instruments. Covidien’s Macon plant manufactures diapers and training pants.

In 2003, the Macon plant began experiencing difficulties with recruiting employees who could work in a high-speed manufacturing environment. The company examined its recruiting practices and targeted three areas for improvement:

  • Develop a hiring metric to improve quality and determine an applicant’s skill qualifications, with data to support the results
  • Reduce hiring costs
  • Reduce time-to-hire

Covidien contacted Albany Technical College, the local WorkKeys Solutions Provider, to implement the WorkKeys system into its hiring practices. Covidien implements a team-based work system, and employees are encouraged to voice concerns about operations. Several veteran employees shared concerns about the gap between new hires’ skills and those needed to perform jobs. “They saw that new hires just didn’t have the skills,” said Naomi Stifter, human resources manager at Covidien. “When we told them about the changes we were making to recruitment and the role WorkKeys would play, they were all for it.”

A job profiler from the college was sent to profile production jobs, which impact more than 300 positions at the plant. The job profiling process includes meeting with employees and managers, listing the tasks needed to perform a job and the skills and skill levels needed to perform those tasks. Covidien later profiled warehouse jobs, affecting 100 positions.

The state Department of Labor performs sourcing duties for Covidien. When WorkKeys was implemented, the department directed applicants to Central Georgia Technical College in Macon to take the exams. Skill testing allowed Covidien to gauge which employees had the skills required for production and warehouse positions, saving the company time and money in the hiring process. “Now, when we advertise a job, we make WorkKeys part of the requirement in the advertisement,” said Stifter.


  • Using WorkKeys, Covidien reduced cost to hire, per person, from $2,300 to $600.
  • The company reduced time to full employee efficiency from two years to six months. “Sometimes, they’re proficient in as few as 120 days,” Stifter said.
  • Reduced the time-to-hire process from 45 days to 17 days.
  • The company reduced waste and improved employee productivity by a significant amount.
  • Covidien also saw a 200 percent improvement in training employees into a job.


Since its success at the Macon plant, Covidien is implementing WorkKeys at other sites, including plants in California and Pennsylvania.

The company also is awarding Georgia Work Ready Certificates to employees. The Georgia Work Ready Certificate is a skill credential earned by taking three WorkKeys exams—Locating Information, Reading for Information and Applied Mathematics. So far, nearly 400 employees have received a certificate. In February 2008, Governor Sonny Perdue visited Covidien and recognized employees who received Georgia Work Ready Certificates during the event.


Governor Perdue Awards Covidien State's First Certified Work Ready Plant (Opens new window.)