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 selected seven state, city, and local public health agencies to undergo a positive change certification program to address recruitment or retention challenges while developing skills in change management and systems thinking.

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 ASTHO, NACCHO, and BCHC, which identified challenges and opportunities among government public health agencies. 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 of executives say that creativity and innovation are rewarded, only 41 percent of non-supervisors agree.

The first cohort of Research to Action participants began the program by attending an in-person training in September 2019 to learn and practice a positive approach to change called Appreciative Inquiry. This strengths-based, capacity-building approach to leading change hinges on finding positive potential in organizations and systems and is particularly useful in identifying strategies to facilitate change when leaders are feeling stuck or unclear about how to move forward.

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

For additional information about the program, please review “Promoting a More Resilient Workforce” from the November/December 2020 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

For updates about the program and future cohorts, contact Brittany Giles-Cantrell.