Which Federal Offices Care the Most About Employees’ Health and Wellness?

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Federal agencies are doing a better job of looking out for their employees’ health and wellness, but could do more in some areas such as encouraging healthy eating, the Office of Personnel Management said in a recently released memo.

Strengths identified in an assessment of 2014 health and wellness programs included “addressing vaccine-preventable diseases, occupational health and safety, and tobacco-free living,” stated the memo from Mark Reinhold, associate director of employee services and chief human capital officer at OPM.

The assessment came in response to President Obama’s June 2014 memorandum directing agencies to enhance workplace flexibilities and work-life programs. It covered 291 worksites at 36 different federal agencies, and was based on responses to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Worksite Health ScoreCard. The federal worksites that participated in the survey earned an average score of 176 out of 286 possible points in categories ranging from promotion of physical activity and weight management, to emergency response to heart attacks and strokes, to help handling stress.

The most commonly used “high impact wellness strategies” were offering the flu vaccine (84 percent), maintaining one or more automated external defibrillators (82 percent), providing written policies on tobacco use at the office (79 percent), offering a private lactation room to mothers (77 percent) and providing stress management programs (75 percent), OPM said.

OPM recommended that agencies fully implement 12 wellness strategies that are required by law or strongly correlated to employee health and wellness, including: ensuring that more than half of food and beverage options in vending machines, cafeterias and snack bars are healthy; training managers on identifying and reducing workplace stress and dealing with employee depression; and having a policy that allows employees flexibility to participate in worksite health and wellness activities.

The memo also asked agencies to share best practices, show organizational support for health and wellness programs, and give employees information about programs and health insurance coverage in five areas: tobacco cessation medication and counseling, depression medication and mental health counseling, cholesterol or lipid control medication, blood pressure control medication, and diabetes medication and supplies.

Which worksites did the best at promoting employees’ well-being in 2014? Here are the top 10, according to OPM:  

  1. The Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  2. The Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau
  3. The Defense Department’s Army Installation Management Command, USA-Detroit Arsenal
  4. NASA’s Langley Research Center
  5. The Agriculture Department’s Forest Service
  6. DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters, Office of the Component Chief Human Capital Officer
  7. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Cleveland
  8. DHS’ Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  9. The Health and Human Services Department’s National Institutes of Health
  10. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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