MSPB discusses stress among feds, agency wellness programs
- By FederalSoup Staff, Sherkiya Wedgeworth
- Sep 20, 2019
Many federal employees provide services to Americans that involve intense emotional labor and stress, and the Merit Systems Protection Board wants feds to know that agencies are taking note and are making efforts to offer relief.
“As government provides direct services to persons in varying states of emotional distress, the employees who deliver such service must engage in various degrees of emotional labor, the September issue of MSPB’s newsletter states, adding, “Emotional labor exerted for too long can cause emotional fatigue which can present challenges to service delivery. Fortunately, there are things agencies are doing to support these employees in increasingly emotionally demanding workplaces.”
Examples of these stress-induced jobs include investigators and those who work with vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children and “require the ability to show compassion on a daily basis despite difficult interactions and patient death,” according to the newsletter.
These particular workforce issues can negatively affect work outcomes, including discretionary effort, intent to quit, and job performance.
Most agencies offer employee assistance programs to help employees deal with the stress of their job, health and wellness programs, flexible work-life balance options, unscheduled leave, and distressed employee hotlines.
Some agencies also have stress management courses, peer support, and chaplaincy programs.
At the Department of Homeland Security Investigations unit, the agency recently implemented ARMOR (Awareness and Resilience Mentoring for Operational Readiness: a Safeguard Program for Child Exploitation Investigations) that includes orientation and pre-exposure training for employees who will be exposed to potentially traumatic events and images.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau has the Crisis Intervention Program and Post Critical Incident Seminar, which aim to heighten the awareness of employees regarding common stressors related to their job, possible reactions they may experience.
The Resiliency Program at the U.S. Marshals Service aims to “build resilience within USMS personnel to proactively manage stress in response to traumatic situations.”
Employees are encouraged to read a recent research brief, “Managing Employees to Perform Emotionally Laborious Work,” to learn more about emotional labor, emotional fatigue, and steps agencies can take to help employees.