Retention of fully-trained public health laboratory professionals is a challenge impacting public health laboratories and threatening the continuity of operations. While the factors behind the retention of public health staff are complex, an overarching theme is a disconnect in communication between the different levels of staff. This breakdown leads to employees feeling overworked and underappreciated. Surveys of laboratorians in county, state and federal public health laboratories have demonstrated that employees seek support and recognition from senior administration for guidance and encouragement, especially in their professional development. 

Cohort 16 of the APHL Emerging Leader Program (ELP) identified one method to address employee communication challenges: a workbook that encourages employees to self-advocate and simultaneously supports supervisors in refining communication. 

Employee Advocacy Workbook

The Employee Advocacy Workbook is a platform built to facilitate straightforward communication between public health laboratory bench scientists and their supervisory staff. The Workbook is flexible and adaptable for different management structures at all levels.

The Employee Advocacy Workbook includes two parts: one for employees to conduct a self-assessment and another for supervisors to assess their team. These workbooks are designed to be completed simultaneously, followed by a discussion between the supervisor and employee. Both tools include discussion topics for self-advocacy and improving communication, ideas for boosting employee morale and methods for rewards and recognition, and a professional development tracker.

  • Employee Self-assessment Workbook
    The Employee Self-assessment Workbook aims to help identify your work-related achievements and pain points. Use the insights gained to guide your self-advocacy efforts; present specific, prioritized changes to supervisors about what you need to make you a better, more satisfied employee.

  • Supervisor Assessment Workbook
    The Supervisor Assessment Workbook aims to help supervisors and managers identify their team’s work-related achievements and pain points. Use the insights gained to guide a discussion with your team; present specific, prioritized changes to satisfy the needs of both employees and the organization.

  • Professional Development Tracker
    Both workbooks include a professional development tracker in an appendix. The link is an Excel version of the tracker, if you prefer to track this information independently of the workbooks.


Below are additional resources to help all levels of staff in their professional development: