At the de Beaumont Foundation, we believe the public health workforce is critical to our nation’s future, and much of our work is designed to build strategic skills at all levels. After years as a professor and leadership coach for public health students and professionals, I was excited to join the Foundation to build on its commitment to serving the workforce.
We recently released new resources that I hope you’ll find useful – a series of “change packages” in the areas of:
- change management;
- improving organizational communication;
- creating a culture of learning;
- enhancing cultural awareness in the workforce; and
- retention and succession planning.
Each change package highlights best practices for preparing for change and includes a goal an agency might want to accomplish; key changes related to the goal; ideas and resources that to help achieve the goal; other resources on the topic; and successes and lessons from public health colleagues. The five strategic areas covered by the change packages were identified as training priorities through the 2014 and 2017 Public Health Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), in which public health workers from state and local agencies provided feedback on issues such as job satisfaction, creativity and innovation on the job, and training needs.
The change packages share lessons and resources identified through a learning collaborative created by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the de Beaumont Foundation after PH WINS identified the need for training in change management and other strategic skills. Called Research to Action, the learning collaborative enabled state and local health departments to share their experiences and learn from each other about successful strategies to strengthen the workforce.
The learning collaborative included health departments from two cities (Boston and Houston) and four states (Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Carolina). Each agency included teams that included program managers, human resources, and partners. Each team identified one to three PH WINS metrics to address over a seven-month period, such as retention, acknowledgement of achievement, creativity and innovation, diversity, financial management, culture of learning, policy development, and change management. The new change packages share the lessons from these efforts and share resources to help agencies apply them to their own workforce.
The PH WINS learning collaborative and the new change packages demonstrate the eagerness of state and local agencies to invest in their employees and to share information that can benefit other agencies as well. In my experience, I’ve seen that public health professionals have great insights about how to improve their work cultures and are eager to learn and grow so they can better serve their communities. And it’s clear that agency leaders recognize the need to invest in their employees to build a stronger, skilled workforce.
By working together and sharing what works, we can unleash the potential of public health professionals at all levels.