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Human Services Case Studies

Posted on: May 9, 2023

Employee Workgroups Support Professional Development

Employee workgroup


The Workgroup Model is a structured approach to forming employee committees that promote the Maricopa County Human Services Department’s (HSD) goals. The program aims to ensure accountability among members and provide opportunities for professional development for employees. The Workgroup Model is designed to bring employees together and encourage collaboration toward achieving shared goals.

The Workgroup Model encourages employees to participate in the development and implementation of strategies that help to achieve organizational objectives. By doing so, employees can gain valuable skills, knowledge, and experience that contribute to their professional growth and development. The program also provides a framework for recognizing and rewarding employees who make significant contributions to their workgroup's success.

Problem or Need Addressed By the Program

The development of the Workgroup Model was prompted by a need for shared leadership and employee involvement in HSD initiatives. In traditional organizational structures, decision-making is often centralized and limited to top-level management. This can lead to a lack of employee engagement and a missed opportunity to tap into the expertise and insights of those who are closest to the work.

The Workgroup Model addresses this problem by providing a standardized structure for employee committees that encourage collaboration and shared leadership toward achieving HSD goals. By involving employees in the development and implementation of initiatives, the program ensures that their insights and expertise are leveraged to improve outcomes. Additionally, the program provides opportunities for professional development, empowering employees to grow their skills and advance their careers. Overall, the Workgroup Model represents a shift toward more participatory and inclusive organizational structures that benefit both employees and the organization as a whole.

Program Description

The Workgroup Model is a program developed by HSD to encourage shared leadership, employee insight into Departmental initiatives, and professional development. The program aligns with HSD's Mission, Vision, Values, and Leadership Principles (MVV) to foster a culture that exemplifies shared leadership, collaboration, innovation, and equity. Included in the MVV are HSD’s Values; Integrity, Leadership, Equity, Innovation, and Collaboration. In HSD’s Leadership Principles, Shared Leadership stands out as the beacon of HSD’s true North – Leadership is a process that happens at every level of the organization. These Values and Shared Leadership Principles can be demonstrated in the process and actions of the workgroups.


Workgroups are groups of staff from different Divisions who work together to achieve common goals. Each workgroup is assigned a specific or thematic goal to meet. Workgroups are an intentional event where the staff of all job titles collaborates, innovate, and provide a voice for themselves, their teams, and the clients they work with; exemplifying shared leadership, and creating a system that results in accessibility and equity. The goals are determined based on Departmental special projects, initiatives, or business needs.


The process of forming a workgroup involves employees who volunteer or are nominated by their supervisors. Employees who volunteer to become members of a workgroup select areas they will commit to working on, and their supervisors approve or decline the request. Meetings are set weekly or bi-weekly, and agendas are kept in the same document per quarter for easy access to leadership. Workgroups may be structured for a short- or long-term timeframe, and some are ongoing throughout the year. Each workgroup develops a mission, goal, and objective and then determines its plan of action to produce its deliverables, seeking approval from leadership. Upon meeting goals, the workgroup develops accomplishment statements that they can in turn use during their employee evaluations, add to their resumes, or to their LinkedIn profiles. The workgroups highlight two of Maricopa County’s core competencies: Teamwork and Professionalism.

The intended outcomes of the Workgroup Model are shared leadership, employee insight into Departmental initiatives, and professional development. The program provides a tool for staff to empower themselves to critically and creatively problem solve, create strength-based projects, collaborate to arrive at a united consensus, and present solid plans to sell (persuade) to leadership. By creating space and opportunity for employees of a variety of divisions, job titles, programs, and clientele needs, the program directly impacts and provides feedback on Departmental policies and initiatives. The Workgroup Model also provides upskilling opportunities for employees to lead or develop projects, practice presentation skills, and polish professional communication and collaborative norms.

The Workgroup Model is an innovative approach to fostering a culture of shared leadership and employee engagement within the organization. By encouraging collaboration and shared decision-making, the program provides opportunities for employees to contribute to the success of their workgroup, department, and the organization as a whole. The program has been implemented in alignment with HSD's MVV and Leadership Principles, and the outcomes are aligned with Maricopa County's core competencies of teamwork and professionalism. The program has the potential to enhance employee engagement, increase productivity and effectiveness, and improve outcomes for clients and the community.

Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Maricopa County leaders are actively integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into county operations to ensure all residents have what they need to achieve their fullest potential. One initiative that supports this effort is the Workgroup Model, where staff from different divisions collaborate to achieve common goals. To ensure all learning types and personality styles have a platform to share insight, Workgroup meetings host a variety of tools such as group sharing, surveys/polling, smaller group activities, a diverse list of tasks for employees to select from, chat sharing, offline conversations, and more. Workgroup members are comprised of voices from all positions across the Department, various ages, levels of direct work experience, abilities, cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, and personalities, ensuring a robust and diverse end product.

The Workgroup Model also considers the programmatic client needs they address. Due to the membership composition of the workgroups and the services they provide, the local community is indirectly impacted by the process, which has considered their specific and individual needs. By providing a tool for staff to empower themselves to critically and creatively problem solve, the Workgroup Model supports shared leadership, which leads to solid plans to sell or persuade leadership to consider the needs of diverse populations. The Workgroup Model also provides opportunities for employees to lead or develop projects, practice presentation skills, and polish professional communication, and collaborative norms, providing an opportunity for professional development.

Program Cost

The Workgroup Model initiative was developed and implemented using existing staffing, software, and resources available to the Maricopa County Human Services Department. The program leveraged the expertise and knowledge of key staff members within the Department, who played a crucial role in the development and implementation of the initiative.

The Workgroup Model utilizes existing staff members from different divisions of the Department to work together towards a common goal. This ensures that the program is implemented without any additional staffing requirements, and it also enables staff members to collaborate across divisions, which enhances their professional development.

The program's implementation also relied on existing software and technology infrastructure available within the Department, such as the Alchemer survey platform, which was used to recruit and select members for the workgroups. The program also utilized existing meeting and collaboration tools, such as video conferencing software and shared document repositories, to facilitate communication and collaboration between workgroup members.

The Department leveraged the knowledge and expertise of key staff members to develop the Workgroup Model initiative. These staff members were involved in the development and implementation of the initiative, ensuring that the program was tailored to the Department's specific needs and goals. Their involvement also ensured that the program was aligned with the Department's mission, vision, and values and that it was implemented effectively and efficiently using existing resources.

Results/Success of the Program

The integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the county's operations has been a resounding success. The program's objectives have been met through the active engagement of key HSD staff members and the use of existing staffing, software, and resources. The workgroups have been instrumental in achieving the program's objectives, and to date, there are five active workgroups following the structured workgroup model, with three more on the way.

The DreamWeavers/DEI Workgroup has been instrumental in providing representation and voice for each HSD neighborhood. As a result, the planning and implementation of DEI have become more meaningful and applicable. Some of their accomplishments include virtual book clubs, webinars, and postings in the internal E-News platform.

The Spanish Translation Workgroup has translated client-facing components of the internal database, as well as other projects, to increase client accessibility and equity, and programmatic data efficiency. They have made vast translations of client-facing internal database material and other HSD client forms.

The Safety & Wellness Workgroup has created strategies focused on the safety and wellness needs of the HSD community. Their accomplishments include on-site flu shot clinic access, coordinated in-person shooter survival training for all of HSD, and coordination, acquirement, and distribution of wellness bags for staff.

The Learning Academy Train the Trainer Workgroup has learned and facilitated the Learning Academy coaching five workshop series to HSD employees. Their accomplishments include six trainers who received Learning Academy coaching 5 workshop series, two trainers who have team-taught one f5 workshop series, and four trainers who are scheduled to team-teach the 5 workshop series in 2023.

The Living the Mission Vision & Values (MVV) Workgroup has developed team-building activities for HSD employees to display how employees can highlight HSD’s MVV with their actions. Their accomplishments include developing a multi-activity teambuilder event, and four of the five Divisions have facilitated the teambuilder.

Throughout the implementation of the new workgroup model, four members have displayed leadership traits, resulting in all four becoming leads of their workgroups. The workgroups have allowed for a space where employees can showcase, practice, and grow their leadership skillset.

The success of the program is evident in the significant achievements of the workgroups, which have positively impacted the local community. The program's outcomes can be seen in the increased client accessibility and equity, improved programmatic data efficiency, and heightened safety and wellness needs of the HSD community. The workgroup model has been an effective way to engage employees in meaningful work that aligns with HSD's values and goals. The leadership skills that employees have acquired through the workgroups will serve them well in future roles within the organization.


The Human Services Department's implementation of a new workgroup model has led to significant achievements in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Spanish translation, safety and wellness, training, and team building. The model has leveraged existing staffing, software, and resources, and utilized the knowledge of key department staff members, resulting in a cost-effective and sustainable approach. The workgroup meetings have provided a platform for employees to share their insights and ideas, resulting in robust, diverse end products that have positively impacted the local community.

The accomplishments of the workgroups include virtual book clubs, webinars, flu shot clinics, shooter survival training, translations of client-facing materials, team-building activities, and leadership development opportunities. The success of the new workgroup model has led to increased staff engagement and participation in work-sponsored events, and openness and desire from both leadership and employees to participate in active workgroups.

HSD’s initiative outcomes include innovative practices, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and community impact. The program has successfully integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion into county operations, resulting in a more inclusive and accessible environment for clients and employees alike. The program's outcomes have exceeded expectations, resulting in several follow-up successes that were not originally intended. The new workgroup model has proven to be a successful approach to achieving the department's goals.

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