Creating a better workplace, one action plan at a time

employee-survey-story-engagementKing County’s Public Health employees, like many County employees, are on the frontline of providing critical services to help residents live longer, healthier lives. People join Public Health because they want to help other people.  Public Health has a wide range of customers – ranging from restaurant diners to people in medical distress who call 9-1-1 to our county’s most vulnerable residents who face barriers due to poverty, race, homeless status, gender, or limited English proficiency.

So when the 2015 Employee Survey launched last September, leaders at Public Health saw an opportunity to find out how they can help their employees enjoy and better perform the work that they are passionate about. Together with leadership, staff created more than 50 action plans to respond to the key issues that employees identified, such as career advancement, training opportunities, recognition, understanding strategic priorities and personal health.

“It is essential that Public Health be an organization that learns and adapts, and through creating these Action Plans, we all contributed to finding ways to address an important challenge in our workplace, said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health. “Working together to solve problems is a valuable step in and of itself.”

Managers and employees worked closely to identify actions that address the priorities that came out of the survey and follow-up discussions. Career development and advancement were key issues, so, for example, the Downtown Public Health Centers (PHC) launched a series of “Lunch & Learn” activities that included presentations from human resources, career support services, and retirement and benefits navigators.

The Downtown PHC in Belltown assists some of the most vulnerable people in our community with services such as the Refugee Clinic, the Family Health Clinic, the Dental Clinic, and the downtown Needle Exchange program.

“I want to be able to encourage and support staff who want to grow themselves professionally,” said Martha Driver, Area Manager for Downtown PHC. “Career Support Services is helping guide our staff on what they need to do for themselves to get to the next professional level.”

The Downtown PHC also wanted to embrace more fun in the workplace, so employees are now leading their own bi-weekly classes on knitting, yoga, hula hoop, and Zumba.

“Because we spend so much time at work each week, I want all our staff — from the front end of a clinic to the back end – to want to come and enjoy their work, do their very best each day, and feel they made a difference every day,” Driver said. “Having a fun lunch break makes a huge difference for each of our hardworking staff members, and acknowledges how much we value them.”

Some of the actions that other areas in Public Health are focusing on include:

  • The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Nutrition Services team in the Chinook Building focused on team-building and has added a team activity (such as making ice cream) to monthly meetings, an appreciation board for supportive messages, and birthday celebrations.
  • Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention (CDIP) is compiling a list of growth and development areas that employees want to focus on and is developing a schedule for trainings that occur during regular CDIP meetings
  • The Emergency Medical Services Division is working to improve two-way communications around issues that affect employees
  • Northshore Public Health Center employees revitalized their safety committee, including updating the evacuation and earthquake plans and hosting a “Run, Hide, Fight” training.

This diversity of Action Plans highlights the many opportunities that employees identified to make Public Health a better place to work and provide better service to its customers.