THE CLIENT’S PERSPECTIVE

In 2012 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was ranked #272 out of 290 agencies in the Work/Life Balance category of the Partnership for Public Service’s “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.” The agency suspected, but could not demonstrate, that poor work/life balance was having an effect on employee morale and effectiveness at TSA headquarters and airports around the country. TSA wanted to develop an understanding of the root causes of its work/life balance problems, and why its existing programs were ineffective.

To address these concerns, the TSA Office of Human Capital (OHC) brought in Eagle Hill to develop a strategic plan for the agency’s Work/Life Balance program. Eagle Hill was also charged with increasing the understanding and buy-in for the program among employees and senior leadership.

A NEW VIEW

To start, Eagle Hill assessed TSA’s culture, conducting focus groups and interviews with a cross-section of the TSA workforce around the country to gather data on the current state of the work/life balance programs. Eagle Hill also studied how other federal agencies and commercial organizations were addressing similar challenges. We found that TSA faced unique challenges such as poor public perception, physically and mentally stressful tasks, and near 24/7 shift work, all of which impacted employees’ home lives and their ability to deliver on the agency’s mission.

Once the analysis was complete, Eagle Hill defined the future state of work/life balance at TSA. We considered factors such as legislative requirements, changing attitudes towards work/life balance, and current use of telework and flexible work arrangements to identify gaps between current and desired state. The largest gap was the lack of a direct link between work/life balance and employee performance. In addition, employees and leaders across the agency were skeptical of the benefit of a work/life balance program, especially in a tight-budget environment. Eagle Hill worked around this by conducting “road shows” with leaders across the agency to discuss the connection between aspects of work/life balance (e.g. employee wellness, childcare programs, flexible scheduling) and overall outcomes (e.g. absenteeism, turnover, security effectiveness). After gaining the buy-in needed by senior leaders, we then facilitated the development of mission, vision, goals, and initiatives for the new work/life balance program that would address these gaps. This information was consolidated into a concise five-year TSA Work/Life Balance Strategic Plan.

To accompany this, Eagle Hill developed an Implementation Plan that included an overall implementation timeframe, project plans, governance structure, and list of owners for each initiative. Recognizing the importance of measuring the work/life balance program’s impact on overall mission effectiveness, we developed a Performance Measurement Plan that detailed metrics to show the link between work/life balance and the achievement of TSA’s mission. Eagle Hill also established an executive dashboard for TSA leadership to monitor trends in work/life metrics at airports across the country.

Finally, TSA wanted to open up new communication channels with its employees. From the beginning, Eagle Hill knew that communications were critical for shifting the culture. We developed a Communications Plan that identified stakeholders, communication channels, and timelines. This included details on the creation of a network of local airport champions as well as sample communication materials such as briefings, signs, and email messages.

UNCONVENTIONAL CONSULTING—AND BREAKTHROUGH RESULTS

Senior leaders across the Agency embraced the Work/Life Balance Strategic Plan and offered their support in implementing it in their respective offices. Within six months of the completion of the Strategic Plan and Communications Plan, utilization of existing work/life programs increased by 50 percent across the agency. Furthermore, buy-in and support for work/life balance at the program-office and agency-leadership levels have increased significantly. Eagle Hill is now working with TSA to implement additional initiatives identified in the plan to further improve the accessibility and relevance of work/life balance communications. This will continue to improve awareness, utilization, and satisfaction with work/life balance programs, and contribute to improving employee satisfaction, retention, and security effectiveness.