Fiscal Constraints Strain Local Health Department Workforce: Recruiting and Retaining Skilled Workers a Top Concern New report from the Center for Excellence and University of Illinois at Chicago

Nov 21, 2013, 13:38 ET from Center for State and Local Government Excellence

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report finds that local health departments face significant workforce recruitment, retention, and succession planning challenges as they try to meet increasing service demands within continued fiscal constraints.

"Local Health Department Workforce Recruitment and Retention: Challenges and Opportunities" is based on data analyses, survey research, and case studies conducted by the Health Policy and Administration Division, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Center for State and Local Government Excellence. Support for this report was provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report draws on a 2012 UIC / Center survey of health departments on recruitment, retention, and succession planning policies and programs as well as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of County and City Health Officials. It includes case studies of local health departments that have instituted succession planning and/or have been successful in recruiting and retaining the talent they need to carry out their public health mission.

Key findings include:

  • Health department leadership is concerned about recruiting and retaining well-qualified employees and keeping currently funded positions.
  • Human resource rules and procedures and lack of opportunities for advancement pose obstacles to retaining well-qualified employees.
  • Recruitment strategies used by health departments are somewhat limited, particularly in smaller departments.
  • Formal succession planning is not widespread despite leadership and staff turnover. The majority of health departments rely on informal succession planning.

Examples of successful approaches to recruitment, retention, and succession planning are included in case studies:

  • Recognizing employee contributions through both non-monetary and monetary rewards
  • Providing opportunities for leadership and professional development, flexibility, and autonomy as a way to motivate and retain employees
  • Employing formal and systematic succession planning to retain knowledge and expertise
  • Promoting public service and public health as a desirable career choice
  • Investing in organizational and leadership development
  • Planning early for future workforce needs
  • Investing in and developing talent from all parts of the organization and from schools of public health and nursing.

Read the full report at

Access all the Center's workforce research at

About the Center for State and Local Government Excellence
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence helps state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain a talented and committed workforce. The Center identifies best practices and conducts research on competitive employment practices, workforce development, pensions, retiree health security, and financial planning. The Center also brings state and local leaders together with respected researchers and features the latest demographic data on the aging workforce, research studies, and news on health care, recruitment, and succession planning on its website,

About the UIC School of Public Health
The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health was established in 1970 and is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. UIC SPH is the only fully accredited school of public health in the state of Illinois. UIC SPH has as its mission the enhancement of quality of life through improving the public's health and serves as a critical link in the education of the nation's public health work force. The UIC SPH is particularly recognized for its strong programs in prevention research, health promotion, maternal and child health, gerontology, environmental and occupational safety and health, infectious diseases, cancer, asthma, biostatistical methods, public health informatics, public health policy, and public health practice and leadership. Learn more at

SOURCE Center for State and Local Government Excellence