5 Tips for Work-Life Balance

Mary Barrett
March 4, 2022

Work-life balance is the business practice of creating a flexible, caring atmosphere in order to engage employees & maximize work performance. Work-life programs are essential management tools for the federal employee in order to sustain an outstanding, engaged workforce.

Crucial work-life programs offered to federal employees include health benefits, Employee Assistance Programs, office flexibilities, telework, and dependent care.

When applied consistently with today’s best practices, work-life programs can prove to be significant benefits for federal employees and agencies alike.

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5 Tips for Work-Life Balance as a Federal Employee

As a federal employee, there are several unique benefits available to you. Below is a list of just a few that can help you strike a good balance between your work life and personal life.

1. Take Advantage of the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program

The FEHB Program can help you and your family meet your healthcare needs. Federal employees, retirees, and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the United States.

You can choose from Consumer-Driven and High Deductible plans that offer catastrophic risk protection with higher deductibles, health savings/reimbursable accounts with lower premiums, or Fee-for-Service (FFS) plans and their Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) if you live or work within the location the plan serves.

2. Consider an Alternative Work Schedule

If you prefer more flexibility in your schedule and/or the chance to get an extra day for personal errands and activities, an Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) might be the best thing for you.

The availability of an AWS can differ by Operating Unit. Many offer some or all of the options described here, though others may choose not to offer them at all if such schedules are judged to have a negative effect on productivity, service to the public, or cost.

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Finally, even if your Operating Unit offers AWS, your supervisor decides your actual work schedule. Therefore, if you want to change your work schedule or work an AWS, always check with your supervisor first.

The 2 types of alternative work schedules are compressed and flexible. A compressed schedule includes longer but fewer work days so you can finish a full 80 hours during each biweekly pay period, in fewer than 10 working days.

A flexible schedule includes an assortment of choices, all involving certain core hours during which everyone must be present, along with flexible start and end times. Credit hours are also a part of flexible work schedules.

3. Take Up Teleworking

According to a report from March 2018, federal employees that took advantage of telework, flexible work schedules, and health benefit programs were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and to surpass standards on their last performance appraisal.

OPM’s first Federal Work-Life Survey, which included responses from 64,474 federal employees, showed that only 35% of those surveyed said that they currently used telework. However, those that did reported an increased desire to stay at their agency, better morale, improved health, and a greater ability to deal with work stress.

A man sitting stretched out on a light grey sofa sips coffee while working on a Macbook

Those who took the survey also said that telework helped them to minimize distractions and increase productivity, with 75% of non-supervisors and 63% of supervisors saying that telework enhanced their overall performance.

4. Meet Your Family & Dependent Care Needs

The Federal Government supports employee engagement in the community and at home in numerous ways to foster a workforce that best meets the needs of the American people.

By supporting federal employees in balancing the responsibilities of work, family, and community, the Federal Government also helps to support healthy communities for all citizens.

Dependent care programs and policies are different depending on the agency. You should reach out to your agency’s work-life or dependent care coordinator if you need help with your dependent care needs, whether that be an adult dependent, a child, or an elder.

A baby's hands rest in two different adult hands

They will be able to direct you to valuable resources that will assist you in effectively adding your work responsibilities with the needs of your dependents.

Some examples of these resources include childcare subsidies for low-income families, resource guides for finding quality childcare, worksite lactation support for new and expecting parents, and webinars or lunch-and-learns that teach employees how to navigate caring for aging parents or other family members with special needs.

5. Participate in Your Employee Assistance Program

Each federal agency has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  An EAP is a voluntary, confidential program that helps employees and managers work through many life challenges.

These challenges can negatively impact job performance, health, and personal well-being, while the EAP is designed to optimize an organization's success.

Two arms reaching for each other and touching fingertips against grey walls

EAP services may include assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal or work-related issues. These issues could include things like stress, financial problems, legal matters, family difficulties, office conflicts, and alcohol and/or substance use disorders.

EAPs also often work alongside management and supervisors in creating advanced planning for situations such as organizational changes, legal concerns, emergency planning, and response to unique traumatic events.

Sometimes, these programs and benefits aren’t enough to create a good work-life balance in certain situations, such as a toxic work environment.

If you are a federal employee who has been the victim of harassment, retaliation, and/or discrimination in the workplace, fill out the form below or call the highly experienced federal employment attorneys at Melville Johnson, P.C. to set up a consultation and get started on your case today.

This blog and web site published by Melville Johnson, P.C. should not be used as a substitute for seeking competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. Readers of this information should not act upon any information contained on this blog or website without seeking professional counsel.
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