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Creatively Improving TSA Employees’ Work-Life Health + Wellness Programs

The client’s perspective

In 2012, TSA was looking to improve its ranking in the work/life balance category of the Partnership for Public Service’s “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” and better support its employees’ overall health and wellness. As a result, the TSA Office of Human Capital (OHC) approached Eagle Hill to help develop an understanding of the causes of the low ranking, why current programs were not working, as well as identify and implement changes to improve TSA employees’ work/life balance, which also appeared to have had a disproportion of staff to employee service ration.

Key initial challenges with TSA’s Work/Life Wellness (WLW) Program included a lack of awareness of the program and the services available (e.g., child and senior care, financial services, legal services and counseling services); ineffective communications and marketing efforts to promote the program; and the negative stigma attached to the program. Eagle Hill also faced the unique challenge of creatively improving TSA employees’ work/life balance due to the existing operational nature of TSA.

A new view

Eagle Hill conducted focus groups and interviews with employees at TSA Headquarters, seven airports, and two Federal Air Marshal Service offices across the country to gain a clear understanding of what work/life balance looked like at TSA. We also completed external research and benchmarking against five other federal agencies with successful work/life programs.

From the information and knowledge gathered, Eagle Hill created a five-year TSA WLW Strategic Plan with the following goals and initiatives: 1) Develop, deploy, and measure innovative and relevant work/life balance programs. 2) Advocate work/life balance and wellness programs to build awareness and utilization through effective communications and marketing. 3) Advance an organizational culture supportive of work/life balance and wellness. 4) Structure TSA’s work/life balance program operations to optimally service the TSA workforce.

A breakaway approach

Moving from Phase 1 (strategic plan development) to Phase 2 (implementation of new initiatives) of the project, one of our key recommendations to TSA was the creation of an airport-based “Champions” network to promote WLW nationally and at TSA headquarters. Key players in the network are field-based Points of Contacts (POCs) and the WLW team at TSA headquarters. After identifying the POCs at each airport, Eagle Hill worked with the WLW team to develop POC training, new hire and program manager training, as well as a work/life wellness Online Learning Center (OLC) training course for all employees. The work/life OLC course had been a work in progress for three years before Eagle Hill was brought on board. We helped the TSA team advance progress of the online course, which has been entered into each employee’s learning plan to help increase employee awareness about the TSA Work Life/Wellness program.

Another key recommendation was the development and roll-out of four Quarterly Wellness Initiatives (QWIs) for POCs to share with their workforce. The QWIs promote a new WLW theme each quarter; highlight WLW resources associated with each theme, are designed primarily for employees in TSA’s field locations, and provide an opportunity to generate enthusiasm for WLW services. Eagle Hill worked closely with TSA to create communications and marketing materials to support the initiatives. We also suggested modifying WLW Program messaging to be more positive in order to help reduce its stigma among employees. Once new messaging was finalized, we collaborated with TSA’s graphic designer to develop engaging flyers to distribute to employees.

While not in the initial scope of the project, Eagle Hill analyzed results of the 2012-2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, looking specifically at questions related to work/life balance at TSA. The team then created an in-depth analysis report of the results for TSA. We also conducted a childcare subsidy analysis for TSA.

Results

After each QWI, Eagle Hill conducts an online survey to identify successes and areas of improvement for future QWIs in order to better support the TSA workforce. Our analysis is based primarily on QWI survey data and qualitative feedback received from the field. Results following QWI #1 in 2014 revealed:

  • More than two-thirds of POCs were pleased overall with the first QWI. Seventy percent reported that the QWI #1 theme was seasonally relevant.
  • Nearly 90 percent of respondents reported that the information and resources provided about the WLW Program were pertinent and useful to TSA employees at their airport.

Eagle Hill also analyzes WorkLife4You.com (the TSA Work/Life website) utilization data and receives monthly reports from Federal Occupation Health (FOH)—the host of the website. In comparison to December 2013, WorkLife4You.com utilization increased significantly in December 2014 when the POC network was created:

  • Total utilization increased by 78 percent
  • Web utilization increased by 75 percent
  • Total PDF downloads increased by 25 percent
  • Total educational material requests nearly tripled

Overall, survey results have been positive and have also revealed areas for continued growth. Moving forward, Eagle Hill is continuing to operate as one team with TSA to increase mission focus by reducing employee stress, and by building camaraderie, increased morale and a healthier workforce.