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Get Real About Work-Life Balance

It’s almost too obvious to say that agencies should care about their people in order to attract and maintain a happy, productive workforce. But while plenty of organizations talk about responding to their employees’ needs, many do little about it. And what does “care about” mean, anyway?

In the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), agency leaders devised specific strategies to support OIT staff and alleviate employee burnout. Nathan Tierney, OIT’s Chief Human Talent Management Officer, told GovLoop at a recent training session that OIT wanted to understand the root causes of employee unhappiness. “Not just asking people,” he said, “but really diving into what was going on in their lives and how we could make some changes.”

One of the key takeaways was that work-life balance was a top priority for OIT staff, and so the agency designed and implemented (and continues to improve on) a program that includes, among other items:

  • Clearly understood and measured business policies, programs and processes
  • A culture of transparent communication and employee recognition
  • More telework and virtual work opportunities
  • A new enterprise coaching and mentoring program
  • Institutionalizing healthy work practices into the OIT culture (such as regular coffee chats, “courageous conversations,” “Tinker Thursdays” and “Worthwhile Wednesdays”)

“Organizations that do not embrace the mantra ‘People First. Mission Always’ will struggle to modernize and be competitive,” Tierney said.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s virtual summit e-book, “Forget About Transformation & Get Stuff Done.”

Photo by pixabay on pexels.com

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