Strategies for Creating a Supportive Work Environment for Sexual and Reproductive Health Staff Toolkit

Staff Retention and Wellness Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Title X Family Planning Program
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Welcome to the Toolkit

Retaining qualified staff has been a long-standing challenge for many sexual and reproductive health care agencies, a reality made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. One strategy to improve staff retention is cultivating a connected and supportive work environment that centers staff engagement and development. 

With the understanding that family planning staff have limited time, energy, and resources, this toolkit offers those in management roles—such as Title X program managers, administrators, clinic directors, and HR staff—actionable approaches to developing an open, responsive, and supportive work environment. The goal of this toolkit is to help create more supportive work environments for family planning staff, with the broader aim of increasing retention of qualified staff.

The RHNTC developed this toolkit in partnership with Julie Rennecker at Syzygy Teams. 

Illustration of healthcare staff in a meeting room

As you navigate this toolkit, we recommend downloading the Work Plan for Retaining Qualified Staff (see Section 1. Connect) to have a space for activity planning and tracking.

These action steps and resources are just a few pieces of the larger puzzle of ensuring staff feel supported and valued. Some staff may feel more comfortable participating in these activities than others. You and your colleagues may have a range of reasons for not feeling open at work, including experiences of racism, sexism, and/or other types of discrimination or trauma. Fostering a environment can help establish a feeling of safety and security—the bedrock of a successful, supportive organizational climate.

The resources in this toolkit can be used in any order and can be modified, depending on your agency’s needs and priorities. 

For additional information and resources, the Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being offers a foundation upon which your agency can build.

Promoting a sense of connection and belonging among staff cultivates personal, professional, and agency growth, reduces staff turnover, and aids in increasing staff satisfaction. Staff with good connections to their work environment feel happier, more engaged at work, and loyal to their workplace. Prioritize strategies for connecting with staff over time by investing in their well being, and recognizing and valuing their contributions.

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Review the connect strategies in the Work Plan job aid. Using the blank work plan, map out which strategies you will try with your team.

Work Plan for Building a Supportive Workplace Environment Job Aid

Facilitate supportive and reflective conversations with staff. 

Staff Stay Interviews Job Aid

Promote staff connections at the start and end of each workday by creating space for mental and emotional transitions from home to work, and then from work to home.

Daily Staff Check-in/Check-out Job Aid

Pinpoint safety considerations for staff and clients.

Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented, & Equitable (TIROE) Care: Helping Staff & Clients Feel Safe Meeting Package

Identify strategies to build compassion resilience in the workplace.

Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented, and Equitable (TIROE) Care: Developing a TIROE Workforce Meeting Package

Work conditions in reproductive health agencies are often stressful. Fostering a supportive work environment includes recognizing an employee's desire for work/life balance. Caring for the overall employee, not just their performance at work, reinforces the relationship between an organization and its staff.

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Use the support strategy in the work plan to address the emotional toll of reproductive health work with staff.

Work Plan for Building a Supportive Workplace Environment Job Aid

Identify strategies for building a trauma-informed, resilience-oriented, and equitable workforce.

Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented, and Equitable (TIROE) Care: Developing a TIROE Workforce Meeting Package

Prioritizing staff development signals that the organization values staff contributions and is invested in their learning, growth and improvement. In addition to improving retention of qualified staff, investing in staff development leads to improved client outcomes and satisfaction.

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Provide opportunities for professional development and networking; focus on staff members’ interests in expanding their expertise and/or responsibilities.

Work Plan for Building a Supportive Workplace Environment Job Aid

When staff are not actively involved in decision-making processes—especially with decisions that directly affect their day to day work—frustration builds up, ultimately leading to increased turnover. 

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Using the “engage” section of the work plan, involve staff in job and care delivery design changes.

Work Plan for Building a Supportive Workplace Environment Job Aid

Building a Supportive Environment for Staff Retention in Family Planning Settings Webinar

Strengthen relationships within teams. 

Daily or Weekly Huddle Job Aid

Identify tasks that energize staff.

Energy Board Job Aid

Would you be willing to share your feedback with us? We want to hear from you! Participate in a 30-minute conversation with an RHNTC staff person about your experience, and we’ll send you a $50 Visa eGift card as a token of our appreciation. Fill out a brief form to express your interest.