From early in his term, President Obama emphasized his commitment to improving the health and wellness of federal employees. “And as many private companies have demonstrated, making employee wellness a priority can save health care costs down the road and make for a stronger workplace.”The president met with industry leaders in May to discuss strategies for improving employee health, and he directed the Office of Personnel Management to develop wellness best practices and a plan for the federal workforce. In response, OPM this summer announced its work life campus initiative, a joint effort with the Federal Reserve Board, General Services Administration and Interior Department. The campus concept allows agencies to experiment with cost effective solutions to making the workplace healthier and to gather feedback from employees.”We will work hand in glove over the next year to review and replica ugg boots improve the services and facilities available to the more than 6,000 federal employees that comprise our campus,” OPM Director John Berry said in a statement announcing the program. “By combining our efforts, we can more adequately and economically address the issues of wellness and employee satisfaction.”The administration also has asked agencies as part of the fiscal 2011 budget process to take inventory of their health and wellness programs. In a June memorandum, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag required all agencies to catalog their ongoing efforts with the aim of establishing a baseline of current offerings and helping OPM develop a comprehensive program. To set the tone and encourage some healthy competition, Orszag recently introduced an OMB pedometer challenge. Employees can log their steps and other health information on an internal Web site, where they can see how they stack up against the director and colleagues in other OMB divisions. Each month the top employee will be treated to lunch with the director, and the divisions with the highest average steps and the most improved average will receive a “healthy happy hour” of vegetables and red wine. In a 2008 review of 50 wellness interventions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Task Force on Community Preventative Services found that office health programs reduced tobacco use and fat consumption, improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increased productivity. The program begins with a health risk assessment, which allows employees to get a physical and learn their body mass index, cholesterol levels and other vital numbers. Employees then can participate in Wellness Works, an incentive based fitness initiative that awards points for physical activity and healthy food choices, and earn up to $600 annually in additional pay or premiums. Nearly 60 percent of Aetna employees nationwide participate in the program; many, including company president Mark Bertolini, take part in competitive team fitness challenges. “We are able to demonstrate to potential customers that there is a benefit to this,” said Fred Laberge, a company spokesman. The technology company offers onsite fitness centers, local gym discounts and healthy caf choices. In 2004, it launched Well at Dell, a customizable health improvement program that incorporates cash incentive based exercise and nutrition tracking programs; telephone coaching for smoking cessation, weight and stress management, and physical conditions; and access to a nurse line. These centers offer instruction ranging from Pilates, tai chi and yoga to spin and body sculpting classes. CDC appropriates funding for its facilities and classes so it can offer them free of charge. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has fitness uggs replica centers at its headquarters in Washington and all regional offices, subsidizes memberships. Federal employees in the San Francisco area can join a central gym where rates vary according to pay grade, starting at $85 for GS 6 and below, and reaching $210 annually for GS 14 and above. Some agencies, including the State Department, partner with area fitness clubs to provide discounted membership rates. Fifteen gyms in the Washington area offer such deals to cheap ugg boots wholesale State employees, and participation ranges from three to 40 people, depending on the club.
Where gyms are not cost effective, agencies have developed innovative alternatives. The Defense Contract Management Agency has a virtual fitness program employees can access by phone, Internet and e mail. CDC employees can negotiate flex time with supervisors. “We want it to feature a variety of foods in a range of economical prices especially organic, nutritional food from local sources and we will work to make the facility itself green,” said Rhea Suh, assistant secretary for policy, management and budget. “The work life campus initiative also ties into broader federal efforts on healthy food choices and reducing the carbon footprint of federal facilities.”The Agriculture Department is making strides toward a greener workplace with the inaugural People’s Garden, a project to turn paved surfaces to grass, plant trees and promote energy efficiency. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., offers a meditation group with nearly 70 participants monthly, as well as chair massage appointments and holistic nutrition lunch seminars. And in July, State began a six month trial providing 10 bikes at its headquarters in Washington for employees to check out during work hours. To create a culture of wellness, agencies reach out to employees through educational activities. Employees can participate in smoking cessation programs, and breast cancer and bereavement support groups. The office organizes monthly programs on topics such as travel medicine, meditation and arthritis, posting videos of the sessions on the department’s intranet. The office also offers day long health fairs in Washington with yoga classes and health screenings. EPA hosts an annual “Walk to replica ugg boots uk Wellness,” a two mile summer event in the Washington area. The agency plans to sponsor the walk quarterly and expand it to other regions. The sessions, held over lunch and organized by The Cancer Project, a nonprofit for cancer prevention and health promotion, focused on incorporating low fat foods, fiber, dairy alternatives and antioxidants into meals. The first event will wholesale uggs cheap be a fitness expo on Oct. Work life programs receive money directly from agency budgets, but agencies have made varying commitments to these initiatives. “Not every idea is one you decide to implement,” said Mike Weber, an official at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards. “But the tensions [among competing ideas] help channel enthusiasm.”In July, OPM outlined elements agencies should include in their wellness programs. Designated points of contact will report on agency health and wellness programs, services, costs and participation through an online WellCheck system. The goal is to bring agencies up to the standards outlined in July, while allowing them flexibility to tailor their offerings based on employee needs. “The [OPM] initiative is a catalyst and a great opportunity to expand our tentacles and reach more people,” he said.