Moving Up or Moving On: Career Advancement and
Workplace Satisfaction in State PHLs
by Carolyn Fitzgerald, specialist, Institutional Research and Laura Siegel, specialist, National Center for Public Health
PHL’s state public health laboratory (PHL) workforce characterization
surveys* have revealed that professional development opportunities
may be critical for job satisfaction and retention. While 78% of
respondents in 2016 were satisfied or very satisfied with their job, after
controlling for demographics, position and region, individuals who perceived
that their laboratory was providing career advancement opportunities were
225% more likely to be satisfied than those who did not. In addition, those in
leadership positions were 90% more likely to report being satisfied.
Further analysis of the 2011 and 2016 data showed that while a third of
respondents reported that they intended to leave the workforce in less than
five years, those who saw career advancement opportunities were 25% less
likely to report wanting to leave, after adjusting for other factors. Furthermore,
those younger than 36 years old were 200% more likely to report wanting to
leave the PHL workforce in the next five years, compared to those between
ages 36 and 50.
Low retention rates among professionals who are early in their career
could leave labs struggling with succession plans. PHLs should consider
strengthening their professional development offerings by utilizing some of
these APHL programs and resources:
click here to access free APHL webinars on coaching and mentoring.
• Nominate staff for APHL’s Emerging Leader Program (ELP)
Link staff to leadership and management training opportunities to help
them advance to managerial positions. “I am fortunate to have recently hired
another graduate from the ELP and now have three ELP graduates among the
laboratory's senior staff. Being a graduate of the ELP was an important factor
in my decision to hire this person,” Dan Rice, acting associate director, US FDA
and former director, New York State Food Laboratory.
• Encourage participation in APHL
Join an APHL committee, sub-committee or work group. “Being engaged
provides one with a significant amount of professional fulfillment,” Burton
Wilcke, Jr., Workforce Development Committee member, associate professor
and chair at the University of Vermont
• Establish a formal coaching or mentoring program
Find free webinars on coaching on APHL.org
• Establish clear career paths and ladders
Refer to the APHL Model Career Ladder Plan.
• Encourage staff to seek technical training opportunities
Review training opportunities on APHL.org.
*2016 APHL Laboratorian Workforce Survey, n=1338; 2011 APHL Laboratorian
Workforce Survey, n= 1416
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