By Lori Freeman
Chief Operating Officer, AMCHP
Because this issue of Pulse focuses on workforce development and empowerment, I thought it might be useful to share what AMCHP, as a leading national nonprofit organization, is doing in these crucial areas. Perhaps most important has been the board of directors' decision to establish a strategic goal around workforce development in its 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.
Our work in support of this strategic goals continues throughout the plan period. Below are some examples of how AMCHP has addressed each of the workforce development objectives. AMCHP has:
Increased MCH leadership competencies through our Leadership Lab; the Leadership Institute for CYSHCN Directors; the Family Engagement Community of Practice (CoP); and the introduction of the Quality Improvement eLearning Series for Title V, in partnership with Population Health Improvement Partners.
Increased the pipeline of a qualified MCH workforce through our Next Generation Leaders Cohort, 2016 Workforce Analysis Survey, and our Harvard Evaluation Practicum.
Increased awareness of the need for the MCH workforce to be reflective of the community's diversity through companion social determinant projects, including the Social Determinants of Health Learning Network and skills-building training on Building the Capacity of MCH to Address Racial Equity, as well as our involvement in the March of Dimes Prematurity Collaborative Health Equity Workgroup. Although these activities are ancillary to ensuring the MCH workforce is diverse, they help set the stage for understanding the core issues of equity, including diversity awareness.
Improved the visibility of the field of MCH through the submission of 10 abstracts to national conferences (all of which were accepted), as well as our high visibility and participation on various coalitions, national advisory groups, workgroups, and committees. Some of these include the Children's Health Group, First Friday (hosted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), the Women's Health Care Coalition, the National Health Law Program's Pregnancy Working Group, APHA's MCH Equity Workgroup, Health Equity Learning Community and MCH Section, the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, the Friends of the NCBDDD Executive Committee, the ASTHO Affiliate Council and Healthy Babies Subcommittee, the March of Dimes Prematurity Partners and National Collaborative, and many, many others.
Aside from these organization-wide efforts, internally we have been prioritizing workforce development and empowerment for our own employees.
All of us are aware that staff turnover can still be quite difficult and disruptive. Improving our hiring, recruitment, onboarding, orientation, and off-boarding practices (including exit interviewing) can prove helpful. At the same time, there has been much research that particular policies are known to be key factors for employees under 30 in determining tenure and overall workplace satisfaction. The Millennial workforce values life-work balance and engagement in decision-making, among other things. We strongly value life-work balance at AMCHP and work hard to lead by example. I'd like to highlight one such initiative: the implementation of a robust alternate work schedule (AWS) policy.
When AMCHP relocated recently, leadership had an opportunity to revamp our telework policy. Utilizing staff at all levels of the organization, we first identified our core values as an organization related to work environment. We defined the following philosophical goals for AMCHP:
Creating a 21st century workplace that reflects today's workforce standards and expectations.
Offering a benefits package to recruit and retain top talent.
Striking a balance between the value of face-to face interaction and the need for more flexible staff communication methods.
Promoting work-life balance.
We also recognized early in the process that alternate work schedules are viable work options that, when appropriately applied, benefit both the organization and the individual. Alternate work schedules are cooperative arrangements between an employee and AMCHP, not an entitlement, and are primarily based on AMCHP's needs, the employee's ability to effectively perform the duties of his/her position in an alternate work schedule, the nature of the employee's position, and the employee's performance.
Further impetus for rolling out a new policy related to our own desire to effectively manage space requirements. Space is a limited AMCHP resource, and, consequently, it must be managed responsibly, efficiently, and effectively. Flexibility needs to be maintained to address changes in staffing, programs, and available space. Accordingly, we established a framework for assignment and management of office space as part of the new policy to achieve the best utilization and respond to current and emerging needs. Desk-sharing and office-sharing are necessary for those staff members choosing the most robust of the alternate work schedule options.
It was important for us to also convey that alternate work schedules are not considered a universal employee benefit. As such, AMCHP has the right to refuse to make alternate work schedules available to an employee and to revoke alternate work schedules at any time. Certain jobs lend themselves to alternate work schedules, and certain jobs do not. Specific alternate work schedule arrangements are always going to be dependent on career readiness, careful assessment (such as more robust enforcement of telework trial periods), position requirements, and other variables. Certain AMCHP positions may be limited in their ability to choose alternate work schedules such as non-exempt (hourly) employees; staff in their introductory periods of employment; staff participating in performance improvement plans; staff on extended medical or other leave; and temporary staff, including interns, fellows, and contractors.
We also had to recognize that, with a multigenerational workforce, not everyone wants or needs alternate work schedule options. AMCHP committed to ensuring every attempt would be made to accommodate employees who do not wish to have, or are otherwise ineligible for, an alternate work schedule by providing them a work space.
To balance the need for flexibility with core office hours and job responsibilities AMCHP staff may choose among three alternate work schedules:
A flexible work day schedule which is an alternative to the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day, allowing employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times;
A telework schedule where employees may choose to work remotely up to a maximum of five days per pay period or 50 percent of the time; and
A compressed work schedule where employees agree to work extended hours for nine days and then select one off-day per pay period.
Some types of alternate work schedules may be combined for utmost flexibility if the general requirement is met of at least 50 percent of time worked in-office for at least five days per pay period during AMCHP's core hours of operation. All employees are asked to select and adhere to a work schedule for a minimum of six months before requesting a schedule change.
In terms of implementation, AMCHP has been using the new policy now for almost a year. Each of our teams was charged with ensuring coverage across the entire team on all days of a week. In the interest of continuous quality improvement, we plan to continue evaluating the policy and modify it as needed. Initial opportunities for the future relate to expanding eligibility, and we remain committed to improving on this key offering while maintaining our high standard of meeting our members' and constituents' needs.
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about our internal workplace improvements and that you take advantage of reading the rest of this issue of Pulse on workforce development and empowerment in the broader MCH field!