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employee engagement

In his memorandum for modernizing Federal leave, the President wrote, “Men and women both need time to care for their families and should have access to workplace flexibilities that help them succeed at work and at home.  Offering family leave and other workplace flexibilities to parents can help achieve the goals of recruiting and retaining talent, lowering costly worker turnover, increasing employee engagement, boosting employee morale, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

This week, as President Obama continues his conversations with working families across the country, OPM is proud to release a new online handbook that gives Federal employees the information they need to take advantage of the government’s many leave policies related to having a baby, adopting, or becoming foster parents.

Our Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care provides scenarios and tips to give employees realistic and specific examples about how these policies can and should be applied. It was developed with the help of representatives from more than 40 Federal agencies, and it is an important milestone in achieving the President’s vision for Federal working families.

Federal employees will be familiar with many of our leave policies. New mothers and fathers may take at least six to eight weeks of sick leave, followed by additional time to bond with their child through annual leave or the Family Medical Leave Act. The FMLA guarantees that Federal employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a year of the birth or adoption of a child so that new parents can have extra time with their families. I’m also proud that our government recognizes the same needs for adoptive parents, foster families, and same-sex couples.  

Our handbook also provides information about less well-known options. For example, employees can use FMLA intermittently – say, one day a week for 12 months – rather than using 12 weeks all at once. Some offices are able to offer adjusted work schedules, with flexible start and end times. For families who need some extra time at home, the perfect solution may be to switch to a part-time schedule.

The handbook shares explanations of all of these types of workplace flexibilities, and more. It has definitions and details about each type of leave, and it also has specific examples of how a Federal worker might combine different types of leave in a way that makes the most sense for his or her family. Our goal is to make our policies and regulations are as clear -- and flexible -- as possible for every employee and his or her supervisor.

To attract and retain a talented, engaged, and productive workforce, the Federal Government must ensure that employees are provided every opportunity to use workplace flexibilities that will enable them to thrive both at work and at home. We hope that this handbook will help move us toward our goal of fully supporting and empowering working parents in their roles both as Federal employees and parents.

Logo for Workplace Flexibilities Handbook for Working Families


My passion for building a Federal workforce that looks like the America we serve is not just about numbers. It is about the American people benefiting from the talent, the wisdom, the experience, and the insights of people from every community in this great country. We need that diversity at every level and at every decision table.

In August 2011, the President issued an executive order that called for a government-wide coordinated effort to promote diversity and inclusion within the Federal workforce. The President’s Management Agenda builds on that commitment.

At the Office of Personnel Management, we work every day to help agencies build a workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people. We know we must work equally hard to be sure that once hired, employees feel included and engaged at all levels of government. Although we know there’s still much work to do, the data shows us that we are making progress on the President’s vision.

For example, four years ago, the President set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than half way toward reaching that milestone. In fact, OPM’s latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the Federal Government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years.

Our data also shows a steady increase in making our Senior Executive Service more diverse. For example, in 2009, women represented just 31 percent of the SES. Today, they make up 34 percent of these senior leadership positions. We’re also making progress in improving representation along all racial and ethnic lines.

OPM is expanding the data we collect through the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to capture information from employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. As more LGBT employees self-identify through this powerful tool, agencies will be better equipped to support this important part of our Federal family.

OPM is providing agencies with the tools, strategies, and guidance to help them continue this progress. This week, OPM unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion, and is designed to make sure that across government, we are using the latest data-driven expertise, digital tools, and collaborative thinking to continue to build, develop, and engage a talented and diverse workforce, now and for years to come.

REDI reflects OPM’s commitment to the President’s vision of ensuring that all segments of society are represented and feel included at every level of America's workforce. You can learn more about the new REDI Roadmap at www.opm.gov/REDI.

This post was originally featured on the White House Blog.

Snippet of data from the REDI Report available at www.opm.gov/REDI


As I celebrate my one-year anniversary as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I have reflected on OPM’s accomplishments over the past few months. I think about how honored I am to be a part of a team that has done so much for the American people. And today I hosted a digital town hall to talk about how OPM will continue to move America’s Workforce forward in the coming years.

As Director, I have met so many Federal employees from across the country. Their wisdom and their suggestions have enlightened me and guided me. Their feedback and input inspired us to create a new initiative that focuses on how we can recruit, develop, and engage a diverse workforce for today and for the future. I’m calling this initiative REDI, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion.

When it comes to recruitment, REDI will help us hire more people like the guests I highlighted at today’s town hall. Gioia Massa, whom I met at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is living her childhood dream of growing plants in space. Miriam Martin, whom I visited with at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, is a woman veteran who wants to use her military logistics skills in Federal service. And Matthew Gonzales, a young man I met in Los Angeles who works on satellite communications for the Air Force. There are many Gioias, Miriams, and Matthews, driven by innovation and imagination, who want to be a part of the Federal family. REDI will help hiring managers bring such talented people into their agencies.

With the REDI initiative, we are also rethinking how we better recruit and communicate with job-seekers. And as our workforce ages, we need to focus on recruiting more young people. The millennial generation wants to work at places where they can innovate and make their marks. We are increasingly using social media to reach them, and that outreach will continue to grow in the coming months. We also must create the right pipelines for people to come into government. That’s why we are enhancing Pathways, OPM’s programs for student interns, recent graduates, and Presidential Management Fellows. Pathways participants get a taste of government service through fulfilling experiences that include training and real-work exposure. And then maybe, they will join the next wave of Federal employees.

I will be talking more about our efforts in the coming weeks and months and I look forward to sharing them in more detail with you. This past year has taught me that Federal employees are constantly looking for better ways to do their jobs better and to serve the American people. I know that REDI will help them do that.

So thank you to my Federal family for an incredibly rewarding first year. Thank you for all you do each and every day to serve America. Going forward together, we will continue to show every American that they are served by a mission-driven, talented, and model Federal workforce.


As we begin this year’s Labor Day celebration, I want to take a minute to thank each and every member of our Federal family for your hard work and for the excellent service you provide the American people. One way for us to honor your efforts is to make sure you have the flexibilities you need to help balance your life at work and at home.

From the moment he took office, President Obama has promoted and supported the kind of flexible benefits that will help us recruit, empower and retain a world class Federal workforce. During the historic White House summit on Working Families on June 23, the President signed a memorandum outlining his vision for such a workplace culture.

OPM recently issued guidance to Federal agencies to make sure that we deliver on the President’s vision.

Workplace flexibilities go beyond the traditional annual leave, sick leave and family and medical leave. Working with their supervisors, Federal employees have the right to request alternative work schedules, job-sharing, telework, part-time work and leave transfer programs.

Our memorandum reminds agencies that they “must not create arbitrary and unnecessary barriers” that would keep employees from asking to take advantage of workplace flexibilities. And I will be asking agencies to report to me about what best practices they are using to create a culture and workplace environment that supports the use of these programs. I also want agencies to report any barriers that may unnecessarily restrict the use of these flexibilities so we can work together to remove obstacles.

The bottom line is, I don’t want Federal employees to worry about retaliation when they seek work schedule flexibilities. And we want to make sure agencies have the procedures and policies in place to create a culture that allows employees to feel comfortable making requests.

We talk a lot here about employee morale and how to best create a workplace where employees feel engaged and appreciated. What better way for us to show our appreciation for the incredible work our 2 million-strong, talented workforce does than to be sensitive to the tug employees often feel between their desire to do their jobs and the need to take care of a family situation or emergency.

What’s more, these flexibilities are not just good for employees. I know that if you believe, when a family emergency comes up, that your manager will bend over backwards to accommodate you, you will go the extra mile when a critical situation arises at work.

We are one Federal family. We need to look out for each other, help each other and trust each other to do the best for the American people we serve.

Enjoy your well-deserved Labor Day holiday!


OPM has released a new data tool to the agencies called UnlockTalent.gov. I am excited about this powerful new interactive dashboard because I think it will help Federal leaders foster a culture of excellence and high performance at each and every agency.

With UnlockTalent.gov, agency leaders can take advantage of the valuable information from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and other HR resources, including Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) data. It will help them better understand the data and it will give them the extra support they need to create the most effective engagement programs for their employees.

The dashboard is exciting for another reason. It is one of the many ways we are working to meet the President’s Second Term Management Agenda goal of creating a culture of excellence and engagement, leading to higher performance.

There are some great features available as a part of the dashboard that makes it particularly helpful and unique. It is customized to each individual agency’s data with personalized pages. And when users sign in, they have access to five separate tabs: Agency Overview, HR Core Metrics, Employee Engagement, Global Satisfaction, and Community of Practice. Each tab offers a different type of data analysis or set of resources. The Community of Practice serves as a hub for agencies to explore best practices from the Federal Government and elsewhere. The combination of data and resources is a powerful way for agency leaders to be able to think about their engagement programs and office cultures.

We didn’t create this tool alone. OPM teamed up with 14 Federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget so that the dashboard would be designed based on real input from potential users. We’ll also continue to improve it by gathering user feedback and applying it to updates that will add information and features in the coming months.

I am very proud of the team here at OPM and our government partners for this great product. It is proof of what innovation and teamwork can create and it’s happening all across government. I look forward to hearing from agency leaders about how UnlockTalent.gov is helping them bolster their efforts to engage our talented Federal workforce.


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