Category Archives: Uncategorized

Employee Engagement

Research on workforce engagement demonstrates that there are 12 primary indicators used as measures of employee engagement.  The first is “I know what is expected of me at work everyday.”  Some may think that if an employee has a job description, has received adequate orientation, and has an assigned manager who provides supervision, this should be enough. This is not the case.  Here are some questions that an employee may have if they are unsure what is expected of them:

  • When is it appropriate to ask questions?
  • Am I supposed to offer up my ideas even if they conflict with my manager / supervisor’s directions?
  • How should I show up at team meetings and what is my role?
  • How and when is it okay to tell my manager / supervisor that I don’t understand something?
  • What are the cultural norms regarding how we work with each other in teams?
  • Should I expect that the answers to some of these questions depend on the manager / supervisor and not on the practices of the organization?

At the heart of this issue lies the need for building trust.  An employee should always feel that it is safe to ask questions. Depending on many factors in the workplace, there may be an appropriate time and place to ask questions, but managers / supervisors are always responsible for helping to build a trusting relationship.  When that happens, employees can feel that they know what to do in their jobs even when questions arise.

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Engaging Youth for Our Future Health Care

patricia-bennett1In a series of four posts, we explore key issues raised by the Affordable Care Act and how we need more health care providers to meet the needs of the many new enrollees. In the third post made last week, we asked for your thoughts on how we can increase the racial/ethnic diversity of our health care workforce. This week, we conclude by exploring the importance of engaging youth at early stages about pursuing health care professions.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) pledged funding to support enlarging and diversifying our country’s current health care workforce. For example, it contributed $11 billion towards creating 350 additional community health centers and $1.5 billion to the National Health Services Corps to support a professional loan repayment program for providers working in underserved rural counties or inner cities. While these appropriations are important and necessary, they may not significantly increase the quantity and diversity of this country’s future health care workforce. In order to find long-term solutions for achieving adequate numbers and diversity of health care providers, we must start with implementation of fundamental reforms in our pre-college education systems.[1] We need to pursue strategies that create an interest in health care professions amongst our youth – especially youth of African American and Latino backgrounds. There is a critical need to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing careers requiring expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), including health professions.[2] Creating and supporting pipeline programs for middle and high school students to pursue undergraduate and graduate STEM studies is imperative. Providing minority role models and hands-on experiences for young students will serve to demystify the health care fields and show youth the positive impact that they can have in their communities. What are some of your ideas for engaging youth in pursuing careers in health care services?



Diversity of Health Care Providers

patricia-bennett1In a series of four posts, we explore key issues raised by the Affordable Care Act and how we need more health care providers to meet the needs of the many new enrollees. In the second post made last week, we asked for your thoughts on how health care providers can be incentivized to practice in our country’s high-need areas. Next week, we explore some of the factors that lead individuals to pursue health care professions.

Research shows that access to and quality of health care services improves when the health care workforce reflects the racial, ethnic, economic, and cultural diversity of its patients. A diverse network of providers can better overcome language and cultural barriers that patients may experience when receiving health care services. Provider diversity improves access to health care for underserved patients – for example, African American and Latino physicians are more likely than White physicians to practice in underserved areas and treat larger numbers of minority and poor patients.[1] Moreover, when given a choice, racial and ethnic minority patients are more likely to choose and continue receiving care from health care providers of their own racial/ethnic background.[2] Despite this evidence, racial/ethnic disparities between our country’s patients and health care providers are extreme. Nationwide, African Americans comprise 13% of the country’s population, but only 4% of its physicians. Latinos comprise 17% of our total population, but only 5% of our physicians. [3] Amongst this country’s nurses, 83% are White and only 5% are African American. Policymakers need to be made aware of these racial/ethnic disparities and the impact they have on peoples’ health so that they can create policies and allocate resources that support the training and development of a more representative health care provider population. What are some of your other ideas for how we can bridge this diversity gap?

[1] Kington R, Tisnado D, Carlisle DM. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity among physicians: an intervention to address health disparities? In Smedley BD, Stith AY, Colburn L, Evans CH, (eds.). The Right Thing to Do, The Smart Thing to Do: Enhancing Diversity in the Health Professions. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

[2] Saha S, Taggart SH, Komaromy M, Bindman AB. Do patients choose physicians of their own race? Health Affairs. 2000; 19: 76-83.

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Incentivizing Health Care Providers in Areas of Need

patricia-bennett1In a series of four posts, we explore key issues raised by the Affordable Care Act and how our country needs more health care providers who are able to provide high quality integrated care. We asked for your thoughts on what public health care agencies should do to meet the growing health care need. Next week, we explore the importance of having health care providers from diverse backgrounds.

Our country’s health care workforce is experiencing a major shortage of providers who can serve individuals recently enrolled in the ACA’s health care reform insurance plans. Did you know that, by 2020, it is estimated that there will be a deficit of 45,000 primary care providers (PCPs)? This is particularly problematic as PCPs comprise the backbone and frontline of our health care system’s infrastructure and distribution of services. They are usually the ones who see patients at the onset of their symptoms, and triage patients to appropriate sources of care. Currently, 20% of Americans live in areas with insufficient primary care providers, 30% live in areas with too few mental health providers, and 16% live in areas with too few dentists[1] – many of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollees reside in these same areas. Some strategies such as loan reimbursement programs, salary stipends, leadership development programs, career advancement tracks, housing support, and relocation assistance packages have been utilized to some degree. These programs may need to be enlarged in order to entice health care providers to practice in high-need areas. How else do you think we can incentivize highly-trained health care providers to practice in areas that are in dire need of services?


Meeting the Affordable Care Act’s Promise

patricia-bennett1In a series of four posts, we will explore key issues raised by the Affordable Care Act pertaining to our need for more health care providers to serve the many new enrollees. What are your thoughts on what public health care agencies should do to address this growing demand? Next week, we explore how incentives can be used to entice providers to serve in high-need regions.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has garnered considerable attention in local and national media for years now. Through March 2015, over 16 million individuals nationwide[1] (approximately 36% of the 45.2 million previously uninsured individuals)[2] have enrolled in public health insurance plans via the newly formed health care benefits exchanges. While it is good news that so many more people have health care insurance coverage, it is now essential that our country’s public health care agencies turn their attention to increasing capacity to provide high-quality health care services to the many new enrollees. In addition, current and newly trained health care providers need to integrate their services for patients, collaborate with each other, utilize emerging technologies, improve their quality measures and adherence, and provide patient-centered care to help meet the growing demand for services. What additional measures do you think should be taken to ensure that new enrollees will be provided the high-quality and timely care that the plans promise to provide?


[2] 45.2 million American individuals were uninsured in 2013;

The Importance of Managers

patricia-bennett1Research tells us that the best way to promote staff retention, higher productivity and employee satisfaction is to ensure that people are engaged in their work. Did you know that 70% of employee performance is directly related to the manager? Many managers are promoted into managerial positions having done the work that they will now supervise and assume their new responsibilities with little or no formal training in management. While managers can be effective using a variety of styles and techniques, managers that demonstrate an interest in their employees, garner employees trust and arrange to have people use their natural talents each day have employees that are more engaged and more productive. Have you ever received training on how to engage your staff?

Leveraging Our Greatest Organizational Resource

patricia-bennettThere is no doubt that there is increasing pressure to do more with less. Whether you manage a government department or a non-profit organization, the needs of those we serve typically outweigh available resources. Moreover, there is an increased demand for transparency requiring us to demonstrate that we are doing our best with our limited resources. However, did you know that we have an untapped well of resources in our workforce? Research has shown that when the people we lead and manage are engaged in their work and workplaces, they are much more productive. In fact, a highly engaged workforce can increase productivity by 21%, lower absenteeism by 37%, and reduce workplace safety incidents by 48%. So how do we increase engagement? The first step is to measure and understand the organization’s current level of employee engagement. Check out this article regarding the twelve questions that are essential to measuring and improving workforce engagement.

Public Sector Leadership

patricia-bennettLast year, I posted a blog about entitled New Leadership in the Public Sector and the unique challenges facing public sector leaders, including:

  • Increasing rates of retirement and the challenges and opportunities this creates
  • Fast paced, major changes in state and federal policy and funding
  • An emerging generation of new public sector leaders

In this blog, I asked the question: “What constitutes positive leadership in government organizations in the 21st Century?”  To answer this question, RDA recently launched a research study to identify and understand the unique qualities of public sector leaders and how their approaches and competencies enable them to meet the growing demands placed on them in the 21st Century.

Why are we doing this?  We believe that leadership is a critical ingredient to successfully managing organizational change efforts.  It is our hope that this study will provide some useful information that we can and will share. If you have suggestions of public sector leaders who are role models for successfully managing change, please drop me an email at, and please stay tuned for more information about what we learn!



Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!   I think that we can look forward to a lot of potential positive change in 2014:

  • New hope for people coming back to our communities from prison as community correctional partnerships work to create systems of re-entry supports and services.
  • Record level mental health funds in last year’s State budget that should show up in local services.
  • A reported reduction in California’s foster care population – a trend to continue.
  • And last, but certainly not least, potential changes as the Affordable Health Care Act continues to be implemented.

Continue reading

Response to the State of California’s Prisons

ImageIn 1982, I was the lobbyist for the Friends Committee on Legislation, a Quaker sponsored advocacy group.  Jerry Brown was ending his first term as Governor. One of the most detrimental pieces of legislation that was passed at that time was the authorization of the construction of Tehachapi prison, the first prison to be authorized in 100 years in California.  This authorization opened the flood gates of what was to be the worst investment that California has ever made as it paved the way for the massive prison construction effort that followed. Continue reading