Valuing Employees: Sevier County Health Department Shares Its Approach to Workforce Engagement


Ensuring workforce engagement, in the best of times, is challenging. Between managing the work, varying personalities, and generational needs and differences, organizational leaders can find themselves at a loss of how to even begin to show they value their people. Philosophically, leaders know that their business does not run without their people. They know that their people are the best at what they do.

The Baldrige Criteria calls out valuing people as a core value and concept. It is one of 11 core values and concepts that are defined as beliefs and behaviors that are embedded in high-performing organizations and are the foundation for integrating key performance and operational requirements within a results-oriented organization. The Baldrige core concept of valuing people acknowledges that an organization’s success depends on an engaged workforce that benefits from meaningful work, clear organizational direction, the opportunity to learn, and accountability for performance.

But with emails flying and fires raging, how do leaders stop and make sure their people know that they know that they are amazing?

One very busy organization has found a way. Sevier County Health Department is a 2019 TNCPE Achievement Award winner and has been recognized by a TNCPE examiner team as having a role model practice in workforce engagement and development that, “exemplifies the Baldrige core value of valuing people”. These approaches include

  • annual Individual Development Plans,
  • annual Stay Interviews designed so leaders understand the needs of their employees,
  • merit-based salary increases, and
  • intentionally assembling all work teams, from strategic planning groups to performance improvement teams, to represent diverse work areas to encourage teamwork and collaboration.

When asked about the value or “what’s in it for me” of these approaches, Jana Chambers, County Health Director, says “Investing time in getting to really know your staff in one-on-one conversations to develop an understanding of individual employee needs, motivators, and goals enables an organization to empower employees and encourage them to use their intellect and ideas on the job.  Then, in bringing the staff together in teams, we have seen our employees work as a whole to create innovative ways to deliver services, identify opportunities for improvement, create improvement plans, evaluate the results, and celebrate the wins.  Letting people know they are valued creates a positive work environment resulting in a productive workforce.”

Today, our world and work look different. Many organizations have scrambled to send their employees to work from home or have deemed them essential with a need to come into work. Small and large business alike are struggling to balance the work to meet customer needs and expectations, while demonstrating they value their workers’ needs. Employing some of the best practices from a neighboring organization may help you demonstrate your people mean everything to you and your organization.



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