26 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Agencies urged to emphasise wellbeing

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The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has produced guidelines outlining a standardised approach to employee wellness programs across the Public Service.

The aim is to encourage Agencies to re-evaluate and enhance staff support programs in a bid to improve the health and productivity of the workforce, promote equitability, and reinforce the Government’s goal of being a model employer.

The guidance follows President Joe Biden’s management agenda, which tasks Agencies with promoting “wellbeing and [supporting] initiatives that extend beyond the workplace”.

Associate Director of Employee Services at the OPM, Veronica E. Hinton said the guidelines promoted comprehensive, consistent and evidence-based approaches to wellness programing and equitable access to support services across Federal Agencies.

“It supports Agencies in utilising available tools and resources so that employee wellness is efficiently fostered, uplifted, and consistently prioritised across Government,” Ms Hinton (pictured) said.

According to the guidelines, support services which are, or should be, offered to Federal employees include mental health counselling, crisis intervention, substance use treatment, financial and legal services, access to dependent care, life-stage planning, workplace conflict resolution and cultural competency services.

It also suggests Agencies offer employees tools to track their mental and physical health digitally, in-person or through virtual fitness classes, health and wellness seminars, and training on mental health and suicide prevention.

The guidelines call for services that should include resources and support for under-served communities, and incorporate training programs in the areas of cultural and ethnic awareness, workplace micro-aggressions and gender inclusivity.

For example, they said transgender and non-binary employees should have access to external support services, including help navigating workplace and social transitions and education for family members.

Washington, 3 June 2023

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