Lab Matters Fall 2018 - Page 4

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Slowing the “Doom Loop” in Public Health Labs The 2016 Gallup report How Millennials Want to Work and Live points out that it isn’t employee satisfaction that keeps Millennials in their jobs, it is the opportunity to learn and grow. Even if a job is satisfying, in the absence of career development and opportunities to learn and practice new skills, boredom will eventually develop and lead to frustration, which leads to turnover. This is not a new concept, nor is it unique to Millennials. In the 1970s, Charles Cranston Jett described a similar phenomenon in a model that he called the Doom Loop. The Doom Loop is a tool that can help both employers and employees to identify strategies to address boredom and frustration and to ensure that employees are able to make tactical career decisions. The main message of the Doom Loop? Employees need a “new mountain to climb” every two to three years; if the new opportunity is not provided within their current laboratory, then they will seek that mountain elsewhere. In this issue of Lab Matters, we examine workforce retention in public health laboratories. A recent employee survey conducted at the Minnesota Department of Health revealed that more than 90 percent of our public health laboratory staff feel that their job is important to the public health mission. These staff are motivated by a sense of purpose and our job as laboratory leaders is to help them grow in their current position as well as to prepare them for future roles. While it may not be possible to create defined 2 LAB MATTERS Fall 2018 career paths for all of our employees, it is possible to provide coaching and opportunities for staff to develop new skills and capitalize on unique strengths. To that end, we have an Everyday Leaders Program that enables non-supervisory staff to hone their leadership skills and collaborate on a project with individuals from across the agency. I have seen staff come out of this program with renewed energy, motivation and confidence to take on new tasks and develop new skills. Besides creating retention programs at public health laboratories, encouraging staff to become APHL members and to participate in APHL committees is a great way to provide staff with career enrichment while helping APHL achieve its vision of “a healthier world through quality laboratory systems.” APHL’s Emerging Leaders Program offers another chance to give staff a career development opportunity. Individual states may also have leadership and/or career development programs. Employees need a 'new mountain to climb' every two to three years; if the new opportunity is not provided within their current laboratory, then they will seek that mountain elsewhere.” Joanne Bartkus, President, APHL However, once a learning opportunity is identified, the challenge becomes providing staff with the time to learn new skills while still doing their job. Our challenge as laboratory leaders is to find a way to provide these committed individuals with career coaching and development opportunities to ensure that their job not only has meaning, but also builds upon their strengths as the next generation of leaders. n PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org