How Government Workforce Policies and Programs Support the Most Vulnerable

With nearly three million people in the federal workforce, the government has to be prepared to support employees with a wide variety of needs. With a workforce that resembles the population as a whole, the policies that the government puts in place can be used as an example for private sector companies as well as for organizations supporting our nation's more vulnerable populations.

The following three programs illustrate the ways the government is supporting its workforce and citizens when they are in vulnerable situations.

OPM Introduces Safe Leave

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has developed a new form of paid leave aimed at supporting people who are victims of domestic violence or other sexual or relationship-based trauma. The policy is intended to give workers the time off they need to deal with the mental, physical, and logistical recovery from violence. The policy extends to family members who are supporting someone who has experienced domestic violence.

Employees can request this "safe leave" as they seek and attend medical treatment (including mental health services), secure housing, seek help from victim support organizations, go to court, arrange for childcare, enroll a family member in a new school, or other consequences related to the abuse.

For those not directly involved in the abuse situation, federal workers can take up to 13 days of sick leave to help care for a family member who has been victimized. They can also take upwards of 12 weeks of paid sick leave to care for a family member who developed a "serious health condition" as a result of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

VA Focuses on Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention is a key focus of Veterans Affairs (VA) because veteran suicide rates are higher than among most other U.S. populations. The Veterans Enhanced Treatment program, or REACH VET, has shown early success in "decreasing incidents of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts." The program uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify veterans at the highest risk of suicide, based on records from Veterans Health Administration facilities. Those identified individuals are connected with coordinators to provide additional care and support. REACH VET is active at 28 VA sites and identifies roughly 6,700 veterans per month who need additional support.

DoD Supports Military Spouses

The Department of Defense's (DoD) focus on the military family extends to employment opportunities for military spouses. With frequent moves, military spouses often struggle to find meaningful and stable employment. In fact, the military spouse community has an unemployment rate of 21%, six times the national average. The stress of an unhappy or underemployed spouse can wear on military members, impacting their focus at work. It may even cause them to leave the service altogether. One in five military families cite spousal employment as a reason for leaving military service.

The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act addressed the need to improve the government's recruitment and retention of military spouses. President Biden signed an executive order that supported this effort by revamping the rules around when domestic federal workers may work remotely from outside the U.S. The Defense and State departments recently signed an agreement that puts their policies in line with the executive-order recommendations.

For more insight into government workforce policies and programs check out these resources.

  • Unlocking the Potential of AI & Data Science to Transform Government (June 25, 2024; webcast) - The adoption of AI doesn't come without challenges. There are ethical concerns, cybersecurity risks, and considerations around workforce development and public trust. Learn how to empower government agencies with efficient, data-driven decision-making and citizen-focused services to drive innovation forward.
  • 55th Federally Employed Women National Training Program (August 4-8, 2024; Chicago, IL) - Federally Employed Women, an advocacy group dedicated to improving the status of women employed in government, offers training and professional development at this event.
  • Federal News Network's Workplace Reimagined 2024 (August 27, 2024; webcast) - Spend an afternoon hearing federal and industry human capital and technology experts share advice, tactics, and success stories about thriving in a hybrid world.
  • ATD Government Workforce (September 5, 2024; Washington, DC) - This event is designed exclusively for government professionals seeking to elevate their expertise, expand their network, and discover innovative solutions. Stay ahead of the curve in talent management and workforce development within the public sector.
  • FY2024 NDAA: Military Spouse Employment Matters (white paper) - The Department of Defense (DOD) provides certain benefits and services to military service-member spouses as part of broader quality of life programs to support recruitment and retention. The unpredictable nature of military service, along with frequent permanent change of station (PCS) moves for military families, can make it difficult for spouses to establish and maintain meaningful careers.
  • A Call to Modernize the Army Experience (white paper) - Whether the Army is competing or dealing with a crisis event, our soldiers are committed to protecting our nation, our values, and our citizens' way of life every day. To win in our war for talent, we must modernize how we conduct professional development and take a holistic approach to retaining and recruiting our talent.

Dive into additional government workforce initiatives by searching GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

Comments are closed temporarily due to excessive Spam.