Workforce Planning Tools: Frameworks That Enhance Workforce Well-Being and Retention

January 29, 2024 | Allison Budzinski, Liljana Baddour

A diverse group of coworkers walks through an office, talkingPublic health is only as strong as the workforce it relies on to prevent, promote, and protect. As such, organizational, system-level change is critical to supporting the well-being of the public health workforce. While it can be daunting for state and territorial health officials (S/THOs) faced with the daily mission to help communities thrive, S/THOs can enhance workforce wellness in their agencies effectively through early exploration and planning.

What Is Workforce Well-Being?

Across industries, employee well-being is the future of work—it ensures workers are physically and psychologically safe, sustains healthy workplace culture, aids in recruitment and retention efforts, and leads to increased performance and productivity. It encompasses multiple domains ranging from job satisfaction to work-life balance, equitable practices, and inclusion across an organization.

A workforce well-being framework inspires and sustains this approach with evidence-based guidance, policies, and structures. It may also assist leaders in improving efficiency and fostering unity when planning the necessary system-level changes.

Noteworthy Framework Examples

Effective frameworks help leaders prioritize workforce well-being. Depending on agency priorities, risks, existing plans, infrastructure, and context, using multiple frameworks or piecing together strategies from various frameworks may be useful.

  1. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being prioritizes five essentials grounded in human needs and centered on worker voice and equity, and details different ways to digest the model. The five essentials, depicted within the framework in a colorful graphic, are:

    • Protection from harm and the creation of both physical and psychological safety.
    • Connection and community, mitigating feelings of loneliness and isolation and restoring a sense of belonging.
    • Work-life harmony for increased autonomy and flexibility.
    • Mattering at work in cultivation of purpose in one’s job to show that the work they do matters.
    • Opportunity for growth to acquire new skills and a sense of accomplishment.

    This framework encourages collaborative planning around key components within each essential, accompanied by a resource library, a questions deck, and additional data sources for public health leaders, useful in planning processes. It is filled with actionable recommendations for every workplace and is especially applicable for addressing ongoing challenges. 

  2. Framework for Improving Joy in Work adapted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Framework, is a conversation framework and action guide. It lists nine critical components for ensuring happy and engaged employees, four of which are categorized as fundamental human needs, with fairness and equity contributing to the success of all components. The framework also includes tables of do’s and don’ts, with steps for public health agencies to follow, and a helpful graphic that assigns individual-level, manager-level, and senior-level roles in the promotion of workforce well-being.

  3. What is a “Good” Job?, by the Good Jobs Institute, defines "good jobs”, good job assessment tools, and offers a hierarchy of employee needs in their framework. The hierarchy of needs includes four basic needs—pay and benefits, schedules, career path, and security and safety—and five higher needs: meaningfulness, personal growth, belonging, achievement, and recognition. The resource includes a larger strategy for creating good jobs as well as case studies.

  4. Multicultural Wellness Wheel, by the National Wellness Institute, applies a multicultural lens to the personal, community, and workplace levels of wellness. This framework sets itself apart from others with the inclusion of intersectional identities and leads with the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion as the first step in promoting workforce wellbeing and relies on an array of cultural competency standards to be met for workforce wellness progress to occur. The worksite portion of the model features elements in work/life balance and inclusive workplaces categories.

  5. Employee Lifecycle Roadmap, by Elizabeth Mull, also referred to as the roadmap to employee engagement, centers around enhancing an employee’s experience by embracing their needs throughout the employee lifecycle. The framework offers ideal outcomes for a strong and social employee experience from attraction to recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation in the workplace.

  6. Work Design for Health: A Promising Approach to Worker Well-Being, developed by Harvard and MIT, highlights a wide range of promising, research-backed management practices. It features multiple modules in three work design principles:

    • Give employees more control over their work .
    • Tame excessive work demands.
    • Improve social relationships in the workplace.

    The toolkit offers guidance for initiating the conversation, identifying issues, and planning, executing, and evaluating the change process.

ASTHO does not partner with or formally endorse the frameworks but welcomes the opportunity to provide technical assistance and support. Please visit ASTHO’s PH-HERO Workforce Resource Center and technical package “Strategies for Enhancing Governmental Public Health Workforce Well-Being and Retention” for more information.