Research to action helps state and local health agencies improve retention and recruitment and stimulate creativity and innovation among their employees.

Research to Action is an 18 month experimental program designed to help state and local health agencies improve recruitment and retention and stimulate creativity and innovation among their employees. In collaboration with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), the de Beaumont Foundation has selected seven state, city, and local public health agencies to undergo a positive change certification program and address recruitment or retention challenges while developing skills in change management and systems thinking.

True to its name, Research to Action was created to act upon findings from the de Beaumont Foundation’s Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) — conducted in partnership with the ASTHO, NACCHO, and BCHC — which identified a number of challenges and opportunities in governmental public health. Despite a high level of engagement, nearly half of the workforce say they are considering leaving their organization in the next five years. Just 22 percent are planning to retire during that time; another 25 percent plan to leave in the next year for reasons other than retirement. From 2014 to 2017, there has been a 41 percent increase in the number of employees who say they’re planning to leave.

The top reasons people give for considering leaving include dissatisfaction with pay, lack of opportunity for advancement, and workplace environment. And many workers do not believe that creativity and innovation are rewarded. While 67 percent say that creativity and innovation are rewarded, only 41 percent of non-supervisors agree.

The first cohort of Research to Action participants attended an in-person training on September 2019 to learn and practice an approach to change called Appreciative Inquiry. This strengths-based, capacity-building approach to leading change is driven by finding positive potential in organizations and systems. The seven participating health departments are:

  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Division of Public Health
  • Indiana State Health Department
  • Kansas Department of Health and Environment
  • Oregon Health Authority – Public Health Division
  • Boston Public Health Commission
  • Minneapolis Health Department
  • Flathead City-County Health Department

Applications for the second cohort will open in spring 2020. Review the 2019 application instructions. For more information, contact Samantha Cinnick at