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Some of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders can be found in our great nation. From the majestic Niagara Falls in New York to the Florida Everglades to the stunning glaciers of Alaska, our country is full of natural treasures.
As a Colorado native, one of my favorite outdoor escapes—that can only be described as a work of art—is Rocky Mountain National Park. With its vast hiking trails, a wide array of wildlife, fields of flowers, and crystal blue skies, it is the perfect place to bask in Mother Nature. Standing along the edge of Trail Ridge Road makes you feel like you're on top of the world! Even as I reminisce about its spectacular views, I feel a sense of serenity.
I don’t want Rocky Mountain National Park to be a memory. I want future generations to enjoy and explore its beauty, as I have.
This planet is our home—where we live, work, and play. And its health affects our families, our communities, our economies, our security, and our future.
That’s why the President is taking action to tackle climate change. And it’s why he’s asking all of us to take part. So go to Whitehouse.gov and post something about your favorite natural treasure.
It’s our time to lead. Happy Earth Day 2015!
We know from OPM’s research that Federal employees are well educated and many hold multiple college and university degrees. They love to learn and often don’t consider their educations complete just because they work for the Federal Government. That is why I am excited to announce a new educational partnership for our workforce.
Beginning this summer, an OPM partnership with Champlain College will help Federal employees, their spouses, and legal adult family members pursue online post-secondary education in such high demand fields as business, health care, and technology.
We know programs like this one work. One year ago, we initiated a partnership with University of Maryland University College. UMUC’s results are encouraging. More than 1,200 Federal employees enrolled in UMUC programs, including nearly 100 spouses and dependents. Together, they have saved nearly $765,000 in tuition. And we know that Federal employees across the country are taking interest. UMUC enrolled students from 42 states and the District of Columbia and from more than 100 Federal agencies.
Our work with UMUC and our new partnership with Champlain College are win-wins. The additional knowledge and skills that Federal workers get through these courses will help them advance their careers while also making them more engaged on the job and more skillful in fulfilling their agencies’ missions.
Champlain College will give up to a 70 percent discount on the courses. The amount of the discount will vary depending on the exact nature of, and the number of, courses they choose to take. In addition to the discount, Federal employees will be able to apply for financial aid and perhaps accrue little or no debt.
Our collaboration with Champlain College will increase all Federal employees’ access to high-quality and affordable educational resources. Champlain’s online courses will allow Federal employees to enroll no matter where they live, and to complete certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in such fields as cyber security, digital forensics, health care administration, and human resources management.
Employees can immediately begin submitting their applications for the summer term.
Lifelong learning is a staple of today’s Federal workforce, and our alliance with Champlain College pushes us further along that path. I am incredibly proud of the work Federal employees do each and every day, and the time and energy they invest in their jobs. Through our partnership with Champlain, we will help solidify the foundation of that investment. And stay tuned; there are even more opportunities like this to come.
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.
Rarely do we stay in the same job for our entire careers. A cornerstone of career development is finding new challenges that will give us new skills, new experiences. So it’s inevitable that, at some point, you will have to tell your boss that it’s time for you to move on.
As you prepare to have that conversation, I have one key piece of advice I hope you’ll take to heart – leave your job the way you came in.
Before you leave a job, be sure that it’s what you truly want. Consider whether your reason for moving on is the right one. Whether you are looking for a new professional experience, a move to a new city, or more work-life balance, it’s important that your reason to leave is one you have thought about carefully.
Leaving a job can be a difficult decision and it’s not one that you should make in isolation. It’s a perfect discussion to have with a mentor. She or he can act as a sounding board to discuss the reasons you want to move on and help you make sure you are on the right path.
Once you have carefully considered the reason you want to move on and have consulted with a trusted friend or mentor, it’s time to speak with your employer. Be sure that you are honest and transparent with your manager and that you are prepared to clearly articulate your reasons for leaving. Be as calm and professional in that setting as you were during your first days on the job. Your last impression is just as crucial as your first. Who knows, you could work with that person again someday.
This advice is especially important in the Federal Government because we have the unique opportunity to leave a job without leaving Federal service. Whether you want to move to a new city, focus on a new issue area, use your skills differently, or simply are looking for a promotion in your field, you can pursue that change while remaining a Federal employee and continuing to serve the American people.
No matter the reason, if in the end you move on because you want to grow professionally, you won’t go wrong. Remember, we will all likely change jobs several times in our lifetimes. Take advantage of the opportunities you have. Just remember to give the job you are leaving just as much respect as the job you are entering.
I am excited today to release an insightful report on Women in Federal Service, which draws on OPM’s deep reservoir of data to shine a light on opportunities for women in Federal service. One of my top priorities as Director of OPM is to make sure women have a seat at every decision table. This report not only illustrates our significant progress toward that goal, but also points to what we still need to accomplish.
For me, the first step in any challenge is to take a look at the data. We looked at how women are doing in the Federal workforce from the perspectives of work-life flexibilities, opportunities to move into leadership, and pay equity.
The data revealed some positive and gratifying trend lines. Women are increasingly moving into leadership roles compared to their counterparts a decade ago. Today, they make up 34.4 percent of senior executives in the Federal Government, compared to estimates of 14.6 percent in the private sector. Younger women are doing especially well. Women entering the workforce now are more likely to be on a management track than they were a decade ago. And while we are proud of the progress we’ve made, the data shows a lingering gender gap within our Senior Executive Service. Clearly, we have work to do.
We’ve also made great progress closing the pay gap between women and men, especially in leadership positions. Within the Senior Executive Service, the pay gap is nearly non-existent. As of 2012, women made 99.2 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gap has also closed dramatically among women in the 25-to-34 age bracket, showing that younger women are more likely to be paid similarly to their male counterparts. We’re thrilled to see so much progress.
We also know that work-life flexibilities are crucial for women – and men. They want the ability to manage their personal lives outside of work, whether that means helping to take care of children or older parents. Among women who take advantage of workplace flexibility programs, more than three-quarters are satisfied with those opportunities.
This report is just the start. I’m committed to making sure opportunities for women in government continue to grow. Last month, I unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion and provides a data-driven strategy for helping agencies reach one of President Obama’s major workforce goals: a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce at every level of government.
We want to make sure that women are fully represented at every level of government to create a stronger Federal service.
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