Federal Manager's Daily Report

OPM has issued a guide for documenting the costs and benefits of work-life balance programs such as telework, to help agencies “make informed decisions” about having such programs and the resources to devote to those they have.

It says that measuring the value of such programs “can be challenging because a single program may utilize a wide variety of resources, or be an investment that requires time before showing its impact” and because each agency has its own goals, costs and savings potentials.

“There is significant evidence that highlights the benefits of work-life programs, however, agency guidance and information is limited. Evaluation of these programs has historically been unsystematic and based primarily on anecdotal evidence and/or the desire to “do the right thing,” which impacts the agency’s ability to make effective, data-informed decisions on how to efficiently invest in work-life efforts,” it says.

The guide covers topics including strategies for evidence-based decision-making including strategic planning, implementation, development, and evaluation; organizational outcomes; data collection methods and sources; and best practices and examples. Advice includes that:

* When assessing a business need, agencies should also identify employees’ professional and personal needs and recognize that those needs “are different at every level of an agency. Therefore, a “one-size-fits-all” approach in the development of work-life solutions and interventions is ineffective.” Such information can come directly from employees as well as from supervisors, managers and HR, it says.

* When deciding on an approach, consider what organizational goals are to be met. “For example, is the goal to decrease attrition and increase productivity? Agencies can continue operations during emergencies (e.g., inclement weather) through the expansion of telework, thus meeting a business need.”

* When assessing a program, gather information from sources such as any vendors used (such as for health/wellness programs), employee surveys and focus groups, and agency officials such as financial or budget analysts who for example “may be able to calculate the expense of average missed days of work for employees that experience unforeseen caregiving responsibilities.”