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Supplementary Employee Wellness Program Enhancements  

While employee wellness services should be offered equitably across all Federal Agencies, there are several additional resources and tools which agency leaders should consider utilizing to augment the services offered through a traditional EAP. These tools can expand the scope of Federal Employee Wellness by benefiting and supporting employees’ physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as by offering employees private and on-demand assistance in areas not typically provided through an EAP. Examples of these resources are offered below. 

Wellness Digital Applications 

The terminology “wellness application” encompasses any type of digital health tool users can either download to their personal smartphones, or access via an online website which can assist them in cultivating mental, physical, or emotional wellness. Wellness applications can offer users autonomy over their well-being by providing immediate assistance on topics such as mindfulness, meditation, guided breathing, stress, anxiety, burnout, self-awareness, creating healthy sleep routines, and many more. Some wellness applications include structured programs to encourage participants to track their minutes of physical activity or daily steps taken and can provide methods for employees to encourage and support each other in fitness activities.  These self-management tools can be provided to employees at the agency level to encourage healthy mindsets and lifestyles and can support and expand upon other wellness services. Agency leaders should be diligent in seeking evidence-based applications for employees. 

Fitness Classes 

Fitness classes create an option for employees to elevate their physical health by participating in professionally led courses in areas such as yoga, aerobics, Zumba, strength training, and many more, and can be offered both in person or virtually such that remote workers and teleworkers are also able to access the courses. Agencies should consider offering both pre-recorded and live classes to employees in various time zones so that employees are able to access them during appropriate hours.  Agencies should support employee participation in these classes using available workforce flexibilities, including appropriate leave options and alternative work schedules. 

Health and Wellness Seminars and Webinars 

Health and Wellness seminars and webinars enable employees to remain up to date on the most current and relevant information regarding health topics which could impact employees and their families. These events may be live or recorded and may cover a range of topics such as strategies to remain safe during cold and flu season, age- related health risks, cardiovascular health, and public health safety, amongst many others. Live health and wellness webinars and seminars also create an opportunity for employees to ask licensed healthcare professionals questions relevant to each webinar topic in real time so that employees may be made aware of the most current information. 

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Trainings 

In addition to the trainings offered through traditional EAPs, Agency Leaders may consider programs which can further equip Federal Employees with the tools and resources needed to recognize potentially harmful behaviors. The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is an initiative aimed to provide a culture of psychological safety in the pursuit of preventing suicide and other harmful behaviors. ASIST teaches Federal Employee volunteers, or Champions, to “provide a skilled intervention and develop a collaborative safety plan to keep someone safe and alive” (LivingWorks, 2022). This program is considered the world’s leading suicide intervention model and provides agencies an opportunity to influence a culture which prioritizes well-being by offering peer-support for individuals who experience mental health concerns and/or suicidal thoughts and ideations. Additional options include resources such as QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention Training, a suicide prevention training for participants to be able to recognize the warning signs of suicide and question, persuade, and refer people at risk for suicide for help, and Mental Health First Aid, a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues. 

Peer Support Programs 

Peer support programs can present employees with a confidential and informal opportunity to speak to a fellow employee regarding stresses and concerns, or to attain emotional support, encouragement, and learn various coping strategies. While peer support programs are voluntary and can be executed following several methodologies, effective programs often include employees who have received strategic training from a licensed professional and are able to recognize and help others understand the effects of stress. Although peer support programs can serve as a complement and adjunct to formal treatment methods, they are not a substitute for professional assistance and should not be utilized to replace any professional services or to provide formal guidance under any circumstances. 

Emergency Back-Up Care 

Emergency Backup Care assists employees in locating quality dependent care when extenuating circumstances impede their regular dependent care routines. By providing temporary care when employees’ child or adult care arrangements are disrupted, either expectedly (due to scheduled closings, holidays, vacations, etc.) or unexpectedly (due to illness, inclement weather, or other emergencies, etc.), Emergency Backup Care can allow employees to find safe alternative solutions and be fully present at work.  

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program 

Additional wellness supports to aid employees in caring for their mental, emotional, and physical well-being are provided through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. These programs, designed to meet the healthcare needs of employees and their families, can work in conjunction with EAPs to provide in-network, ongoing care to employees experiencing a mental health condition or to employees who wish to seek counseling.  

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