ASTHO Announces Winners of First-Ever PH WINS Challenge

September 20, 2017|5:36 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Earlier this summer, ASTHO partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation to launch the first-ever national “Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) Model Policies and Practices Challenge.” As part of the PH WINS Research to Action initiative, this challenge highlights workforce innovations that are changing the public health field and demonstrating a strategic investment in the future of the national public health workforce. ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation issued the PH WINS Challenge to a range of governmental health organizations, including local, state, and territorial health agencies. These organizations competed to have their most successful and transformative workforce development programs recognized as models in their fields and to win one of three $10,000 prizes—best state or territorial, best local, and best overall policy. 

ASTHO is proud to announce that the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department in Kansas, and the Ohio Department of Health are the winners of the inaugural PH WINS Challenge. Each of these departments and agencies has shown an outstanding commitment to supporting the public health workforce’s increasingly diverse populations. Through each program, these organizations have provided their workers with the training, tools, and development opportunities to best support the changing health needs of their target communities.

Below are quick summaries of the winning submissions. Each winner’s program tackles some of the major support gaps identified by state, territorial, and local public health officials in the 2014 PH WINS, including childcare programs, performance assessment supports, and long-term onsite management training programs.

Best State
Arizona Department of Health Services: Infant at Work Program

As workplace and childcare approaches have evolved to include more working mothers and fathers, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) saw the need to cater to the working parents in their workforce. ADHS’s Infant at Work program began in 2000 as a way for mothers to breastfeed their infants until the age of six months old at the workplace. The program has numerous benefits, including saving working parents money on core expenditures associated with raising children; fostering a cultural shift in the ADHS approach to working parents and giving them the flexibility to provide their children with the best possible care; and increasing work-life balance and satisfaction for working new parents. 

The Infant at Work program has taken off and was endorsed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. The guidelines prioritize employee needs and provide a way for agencies to retain employees.

Best Local
Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department of Kansas: Performance Appraisal System Approach

Feedback, empowerment, and accountability are key to improving worker morale and productivity. To improve employee-supervisor relations and advance the performance of the overall workforce, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department (LDCHD) recently developed a performance appraisal system (PAS) wherein supervisors work with their employees to identify professional goals and accountability measures to track performances. This system has allowed supervisors to gather employee input as well as provide honest feedback to employees. 

Under PAS, supervisors utilize a coaching model centered on adaptive, rather than technical, goal-setting in which supervisors and employees together create personal development plans focused on staff development and growth. Benefits of this model include providing the LDHCD workforce with the opportunity to attain new skills like budgeting, program management, and systems-thinking; higher rates of workplace satisfaction; proactive and responsive guidance by supervisors for their employees; and active, healthier involvement in the workplace. 

Best Overall
Ohio Department of Health: ODH-U Program

Fostering a culture of learning is not enough: proactive workforce development programs should also provide clear pathways and opportunities for advancement. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) established the ODH-U program in response to employees’ desires to develop the leadership and management skills they need to advance their careers. 

ODH-U is an onsite management training program that provides eligible candidates with a year-long course focused on administrative, technical, and strategic skills development. The program offers two pathways for selected employees. The first track requires employees to participate in real workplace-lead work and management training classes with other participants. The second track offers a more streamlined experience that replaces direct on-site management training with an education experience elsewhere for participants who do not have the scheduling flexibility to take group classes. 

Each of these winning submissions bear out the importance of collecting data on current workforce development issues and trends. Approximately 38 percent of the current public health workforce intend to leave their jobs in governmental public health by 2020. Moreover, 57 percent of state health agency employees report being recognized for their achievements, and only 45 percent report that their training needs are assessed. The Arizona Department of Health Services, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department of Kansas, and the Ohio Department of Health have acknowledged these gaps and are revolutionizing the way public health approaches workforce development and support. These organizations embody the mission of the PH WINS Challenge by meeting public health officials where they are and helping them get to where they need to be in order to promote better health outcomes for all. 

The PH WINS Challenge received 16 submissions representing nine states and six local health departments. Applications covered a wide range of content; in addition to the topics above, other applications addressed student internship programs, recruitment practices, leadership development, and employee orientation and onboarding, among others. Ultimately, ADHS, LDCHD, and ODH emerged as model programs; however, each of the 16 submissions indicates the public health field’s clear commitment to investing in its workforce in new, innovative ways.

Learn more about the model policies and practices, access some of the submissions from the challenge, and stay tuned for the 2017 PH WINS survey launching the week of Sept. 25.