By Marjorie Bucknor
The Bureau of Human Resources (HR) and the Bureau of Medical Services (MED) kicked off Work Life Wellness Month (WLWM) with motivational speaker Wendy Wollner who was introduced by the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources Carol Z. Perez, Oct. 1. Wollner engaged the audience with a lively discussion on the art of successfully balancing home and work life. She gave advice on coping with the stresses of today and discussed how to boldly face challenges.
This year’s Work Life Wellness Month included a record number of events, with wellness fairs at various annexes in Washington, D.C., professional motivational speaking events, informational webinars, and panel discussions on topics from workplace flexibilities to the Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas program. At one event, participants cuddled therapy dogs from the Foreign Service Institute while learning about the work of the Office of Accessibility and Accommodations, as well as the Combined Federal Campaign, through which employees can donate to charities that support animal welfare. Several of the month’s discussions and speaking events were broadcast live and distributed through the Department’s internal broadcasting channel, BNET, for on-demand viewing.
Workplace flexibility was a recurring theme throughout the month. Perez is dedicated to improving the use of flexible work schedules, increasing the number of lactation spaces, and pushing for paid parental leave. The Department endeavors to become an employer of choice for future generations while empowering its current workforce.
The Department currently offers a variety of programs to support its employees, including HR’s workplace flexibilities programs, the resource and referral program WorkLife4You, and MED Wellness training classes and educational opportunities. The featured WLWM speakers offered relevant strategies and tools for employees to overcome challenges and maintain a positive, balanced life. These discussions remind us of how important it is to take time to care for ourselves and our families so we can lead happy, productive lives at home and at work.
“We want to build a workplace that supports people and fosters purpose,” Perez said at the kick-off event. “When people feel supported and have a sense of purpose, they’re more satisfied, more productive, and more connected—connected to other members of the team and connected to the mission.”
Marjorie Bucknor is a program specialist in the Office of Employee Relations Work/Life Division.