May 02, 2023
The recruitment and retention work group of the National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development recently released a series of publications to guide their work and that they believe could be of value to the broader public health community, including agencies responding to the CDC’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), ”Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems.”
Recruitment and Retention with a State Civil Service System
The first of the two publications is a scan conducted by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) — a member of the National Consortium and the work group. The purpose of the scan was to see if they could determine how state civil service systems impact human resource and workforce development functions within state health agencies. What the scan revealed was, instead, that there are more questions than answers and, as a result, a pronounced need for more comprehensive research that will unveil solutions to existing barriers.
As is often the case within a federal public health system, a notable challenge to identifying solutions is the inconsistency across states both in how they define “civil service” and their exam requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Nevertheless, and perhaps not surprisingly, the solutions will need to address an often outdated and overly rigid approach to job descriptions, qualifications, and compensation.
Additional Recruitment Challenges Faced by Local and State Health Departments
Based on data gathered by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the Montana Public Health Institute — all members of the work group — in early 2022, the second publication provides insights into recruitment practices and challenges faced by state and local health departments.
The challenges fall within four themes: human resources processes, policies, and procedures; skills, positions, and perceptions; the role of external organizations to build and strengthen the workforce pipeline; and sustainability. Highlights include the lack of key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess efforts, the need to respond to younger workers’ desires for a more flexible workplace, the drawbacks of short-term solutions, and the lack of political support for public health.
In addition to highlighting the challenges and sharing successful practices, the publication shares recommendations for addressing the challenges already being implemented by local and state health departments across the country that the work group may choose to explore further as part of their efforts.
We hope you’ll download, read, and share the publications and let us know if — and how — you have been able to put them to use.
Jan 19, 2023