When there is a shared vision of the mission, commitment to the shared values of an organization and strong and effective leadership that enables employees to be successful morale “happens.” Creating such an environment is not necessarily easy and cannot be accomplished overnight. It is the collective impact of workplace conditions, the quality of front line supervisory leadership, the mission support structure that enables mission execution, and an enduring commitment by senior leaders to the concept that mission performance starts and ends with people.
—Thad Allen, 2012, Admiral, US Coast Guard (Retired)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relies on a large and diverse workforce to meet its mission. Approximately 200,000 men and women serve in the 22 legacy component agencies that make up this federal department. They are united by their mission: to create a safe, secure, resilient homeland where the American way of life can thrive. To be maximally effective in achieving that mission, DHS needs an informed, well-trained, well-led, and properly supported workforce. Given the risks inevitably associated with protecting the homeland, the workforce must have the capacity to operate in the face of uncertainty and adversity. Members of the workforce require tools and resources that will prepare them for their roles, facilitate their success throughout their career, and support them in adjusting and adapting under often challenging working conditions. Ensuring that all its employees have the resources, training, equipment, leadership, capability, and health required to meet
its mission must be of paramount importance to DHS. In this chapter, the committee provides a vision and objectives for how DHS can promote and sustain readiness and resilience in its workforce.
Throughout this report, the committee defines readiness as the capability of an individual, unit, or system to perform the missions or functions for which it was intended or designed (DoD, 2013). Producing that capability requires that individuals and units be physically and mentally prepared and supported in an effort to facilitate effective performance, but it also requires resilience. Much has been written by theorists and researchers about what resilience means and how it can best be achieved. In the context of the present report and the mission of the DHS workforce, the committee acknowledges that resilience is a multifaceted process that is promoted by a variety of individual and social factors (Earvolino]Ramirez, 2007; Luthar and Cicchetti, 2000; Sutcliffe and Vogus, 2003; Tusaie and Dyer, 2004; Zolli and Healy, 2012). Studying resilience, as a concept, provides insight into how individuals and organizations achieve outcomes in the face of adversity, strain, and significant barriers to adapt and develop (Sutcliffe and Vogus, 2003).
To specifically guide its work, the committee adopted the definition of resilience given by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2011): “the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.” In using that definition, the committee recognizes that both stressors and potential outcomes can be psychological and physical and that resilience provides not only the ability to withstand and recover but the opportunity to grow. The committee further recognizes the importance of focusing on resilience in the face of traumatic incidents, but also on the accumulation of everyday stressors that may undermine physical and mental capabilities and mission readiness. Growth and competence development are critical both at the individual level and at the unit level (adding to behavioral repertoires). Box 2-1 lists widely accepted resilience factors. From a team perspective, resilience needs to be addressed through high work demands, management and leadership support, work organization and control, coworker and supervisor relationships, leadership behavior, and technical expertise.
• Realistic optimism
• Facing fear
• Moral compass
• Religion and spirituality
• Social support
• Resilient role models
• Physical fitness
• Brain fitness
• Cognitive and emotional flexibility
• Meaning and purpose
Family- or Social-Level Factors
• Emotional ties
• Social support
Unit (Component)-Level Factors
• Positive command climate
• Collective efficacy
SOURCES: Adapted from Meredith et al., 2011; Southwick and Charney, 2012; Wagnild, 2010.
The meaning of resilience and its operational definition have been the subject of considerable debate and controversy over the years—both at the individual level as well as at other levels of analysis (such as community, organizational), and there is no readily accepted operational definition (Kaplan, 1999; Luthar et al., 2000; Masten, 2007; Windel et al., 2011). Resilience has been described in the literature in several ways, often conferring images of resilience as an end state, where someone either does or does not possess it (a personality trait derived from ego resiliency), much as whether an object is made of a substance that can absorb strain and still maintain its shape after insult (Norris et al., 2009). Or it is described as a developmental process where resilience is defined as a capacity for adaptability, positive functioning, or competence following chronic stress or trauma (Sutcliffe and Vogus, 2003). The latter definition allows for the recognition that resilience is not fixed, rather that it is relative, emerging, and changing in relation to specific circumstances (Staudinger et al., 1995). Early experiences shape later ones; by adjusting
positively to current adversity, capabilities for future adjustments are strengthened.
The committee views a ready and resilient workforce as one that is healthy (physically, mentally, and emotionally), has high morale, is adaptable, finds purpose and meaning in its jobs, and is productive and engaged (see Box 2-2). Resilience can exist at multiple levels in the context of a workforce: the individual level (and by extension the family level), the unit or group level, and organizational level. This report focuses on processes and strategies designed to promote resilience at the individual level and the organizational level. Many of the strategies necessary for promoting resilience at the two levels are needed for a resilient workforce.
Focusing on resilience as a process rather than an end state, the committee acknowledges that resilience evolves as a dynamic, multifaceted process that takes into account a variety of personality characteristics, coping mechanisms, contexts, social-support systems, and biological predispositions. Resilience must be inferred, and two judgments are required: that the “entity” is doing okay or better than okay with respect to a particular set of expectations of behavior and that the entity has faced extenuating circumstances. We assume that DHS staff for the most part (some more than others) face extenuating circumstances. We are trying to ascertain then, through measurement (see Chapter 4), whether the entity (people and organization) are doing okay or better than okay.
The committee views resilience as characterized by patterns of positive (or stable) adaptation in the context of substantial adversity or risk: from a developmental or process perspective, for example, this would mean achieving salient developmental tasks in spite of threats to their achievement. The concept of “resilience” is simply a rubric much as “stress” is a rubric. Resilience is not an objective “thing.” The committee uses ready and resilient as a general umbrella term to describe factors or dimensions in individuals and social organizations that help them to deal with the stresses and tribulations of life and work and to adapt to them in a beneficial way. Health and wellness are protective factors or assets that contribute to those capabilities or mitigate the risks associated with continuing stressors that have documented effects. Promoting healthy development (physical and mental well-being) and competence (capability to do effective work—adequate resources and mastery motivation, which comes from experiences that fuel growth, competence, and self-efficacy) are important for sustaining stable performance.
What Is a Ready and Resilient Workforce?
A ready workforce is
• Trained with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform the mission.
• Properly equipped with tools and protective assets to support the mission.
• Healthy and fit to endure the environmental conditions required in the mission.
• Guided by strong and effective leaders.
A resilient workforce:
• Is ready to perform its roles and mission.
• Withstands and copes with stress.
• Adapts and adjusts to challenging conditions.
• Rebounds and grows from experience.
The committee knows of no theory that links resilience at multiple systemic levels. Although the committee recognized that individuals are embedded in a host of systems that interact and interrelate, the literature is silent on the question of how resilience at one level is related to another. Therefore, the committee chose to take a pragmatic approach to resilience and focused on individuals, their microsystems (units or components), and the broader organization with some attention to the adjacent context in which DHS and individuals are embedded. As noted throughout the report, other distal elements and systems may affect workforce resilience, but the committee focused on the more proximal elements.
The committee is suggesting that DHS employ approaches to increase the ability of the workforce to be more resilient. In this case, then, it is the DHS organization that must initiate change and not the individual worker to help maintain or increase personal resilience. Although there is no DHS baseline measure of worker resilience, the committee believes that the DHS workforce is resilient in its duties; otherwise, it would not be performing adequately. The need for increased organization based resilience rests on the notion that the wear and tear of everyday stress can systematically erode the resilience of workers. That is the crux of the DHS organizational deficiency. It is the organization that can best influ-
ence individual workers to adapt adequately to stressors. The organization can facilitate the active process of self-righting and growth. Organizational structure can influence how individual workers respond to challenges. In addition, because DHS workers are called on repeatedly to deal with increasingly complex and threatening incidents, it is appropriate to expand the scope of resilience to include the development of one’s capacity to deal with future events. In the case of DHS, organizational influence on resilience is not homogeneous. The umbrella of DHS covers many components, and it is necessary to distinguish between macro-level organizational resiliency influences (leadership, agency rules, regulations, and directives) and micro-level influences (workload, geographic traits, communications, and district policies). It is important to recognize that some, but not all, micro-level policies and procedures are influenced directly by macro-level policies and standards.
To be successful, the DHS workforce readiness and resilience (WRR) effort needs clarity of vision, a mission-oriented focus, and clear and measurable goals and objectives to guide those implementing the effort and to promote its beneficiaries’ understanding and acceptance of it. Importantly, such an organizational approach is necessary to instill confidence among the sponsors and funders, who would be hesitant to invest without clear measures of effectiveness. The current resilience program in DHS lacks a unified strategy and clear vision and goals.
Recommendation 1: Develop and promote a unified strategy and common vision in the Department of Homeland Security.
The committee recommends that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adopt, commit to, and promote a unified strategy to build and sustain workforce readiness and resilience (WRR) throughout the department. The unified strategy should include overarching policies and measures of effectiveness in support of core goals. To guide the strategy the department, including all component agencies, should adopt the following vision of WRR to advance the core mission of DHS:
Vision: A ready, resilient, and sustainable DHS workforce working to ensure a safe, secure, and resilient nation.
Achieving that vision will require commitment from leadership at all levels of DHS. Policies, programs, and resources need to be aligned to realize the vision by establishing and promoting the conditions under which employees in the components and throughout the entire department perform optimally to achieve organizational effectiveness. The vision should be embraced by each DHS operational component, headquarters office, and directorate while allowing flexibility and innovation to support their specific mission and unique workforce.
The committee believes this vision statement aligns with the DHS mission, is simple, and is easy to remember, yet is powerful and will resound with the workforce. However, commitment is needed from top leadership to ensure that the vision is carried out.
The DHSTogether program was developed to enhance the health and well-being of all DHS employees. Although initially there was a great deal of zeal for and commitment to the initiative, it was quickly realized that the plan was too ambitious and required modification (IOM, 2012). Activities were reorganized, and during the last several years the program has evolved to its present form. In addition, as the DHS environment has changed and key staff has shifted,1 the program has lost some momentum.
1The DHSTogether program has not had a consistent staffing structure or consistency in the staff supporting it. The head of the division overseeing the program when the present committee began its work in November 2012 had been in DHS for just under a year and was no longer in that position when the committee held its first meeting in December 2012. At that time, no program manager for DHSTogether was in place. In January 2013, the program manager started in DHS, and it was not until February and March, respectively, that an acting director and acting deputy director of the division was named. In December 2012, the detailing of the part-time Human Capital Office employee, who was the only DHS staffer still in the department who worked on DHSTogether from the beginning, ended. In April 2013, the chief medical officer (CMO) of the Office of Health Affairs (OHA) and the DHS deputy secretary resigned; in July 2013 the DHS secretary resigned; and the acting CMO will be leaving OHA as well.
Through its information gathering, the committee heard from staff of various DHS component agencies and others outside the department and reviewed existing resilience programs. It became clear that a fresh approach for improving DHS workforce resilience is required. The committee believes that more than relabeling or minor changes in the current efforts is needed. As it currently stands, DHSTogether is a headquarters initiative that consists of a loosely connected set of tactics and activities that are aimed at suicide prevention and increasing Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) scores. It is meant to provide guidance and funding of common issues and approaches and to develop solutions that can be used by multiple component agencies (phase 1 projects). Although a few phase 1 projects are under way (see Chapter 1), there has been little or no progress toward finding common issues or approaches in the 4 years of the program’s existence. The goals of the program are thin and are not formalized or codified in a meaningful way. The committee asked the Office of Health Affairs (OHA) for the vision and goals of DHSTogether but was told that there are no formalized, agreed-on strategy, vision, and goals. In the committee’s first meeting, as noted in Chapter 1, OHA presented the draft goals that were under consideration (Green and Perkins, 2012):
• Strengthen leadership understanding and support of resiliency and suicide prevention
• Strengthen individual resiliency
• Strengthen organizational resiliency
• Increase accessibility, timeliness, variety, and quality of intervention services
• Reduce work-related stressors that decrease resiliency and increase suicide risk factors
• Establish and maintain structure and information/data needed to govern the elements common to all components
It was surprising to the committee that 4 years into the program there was no formalized vision or goals that were vetted by all DHS component agencies, and accepted and embraced by upper DHS management. Although the goals and associated activities of the program are laudable, the current design is unlikely to result in lasting change; that is, it is unlikely to become a “way of working” that is part of the fabric of DHS. Thus, it is unlikely to achieve the vision described earlier by the committee.
What seems to be lacking is a clear and specific set of strategies that undergird the vision and work in service of DHS’s overall mission. Strategy is different from a tactic: different tactics may be deployed as part of a single strategy (wellness lifestyle programs and services are tactical; resilience programs should be strategic and strength-based for sustainable behavior change). Through a strategic perspective, the committee envisions that DHS wants both to strengthen its organizational identity throughout its heterogeneous components and to embed specific principles, practices, and resources in all DHS components. Together, those approaches will strengthen WRR.
Consequently, the committee proposes that rather than a simple relabeling of or recommitment to the existing DHSTogether program, a more comprehensive integrated approach is needed. DHS might be inclined to call the WRR effort a “program,” but it goes beyond a program. A program implies a plan or system, something that is to be followed, something externally applied, something outside oneself. The committee envisions something deeper, stronger, and more enduring. That is why it proposes that one strategy is for DHS to build its collective identity—which in some ways might be thought of as building its brand.
Organizational identity in the most general sense is an understanding of “who the organization is, what qualities seem to define it and distinguish it from other organizations” (Harquail and Brickson, 2012). Organizational identity provides a basis of collective self-definition and in this way is a foundational aspect of an organization’s culture. Recent research suggests that organizational identity can serve as a positive support of or even as a catalyst for workforce flourishing (Brickson and Lemmon, 2009).
In addition to strengthening its collective identity, DHS must work to embed and align across components principles, practices, and resources that strengthen workforce capabilities and adaptability. That gets at the “new way of working.” Many programs are aimed at improving workforce health and wellness and at improving capabilities to cope with adversity throughout DHS and its component agencies, but they vary in comprehensiveness, in leadership commitment, and in resources. The programs differ in key values and principles, such as working together in service of the mission, and they do not harness best practices to integrate or disseminate throughout the department what already works. These are areas that need to be valued and promoted.
Organizational transformation is hard no matter what type of change is envisioned or undertaken. In fact, many change programs fail to work because leaders fail to recognize that change processes can be more systematic—that the change process goes through phases that take time and effort to plan and execute. For this initiative to be successful, there are a number of necessary preconditions, of which DHS should take note.
Clearly Define the “Problem”
The most effective transformation efforts start with a clearly defined problem (Beer et al., 1990). That requires a shared assessment of major concerns—what is wrong or what needs to be improved. DHS has identified a concern about the resilience of its workforce. But the committee has raised questions as to whether resilience is actually the problem. The data (FEVS and other information that the committee has reviewed) may suggest that the problem is something else. (See Chapter 4 for additional discussion.) Regardless, there needs to be a joint diagnosis—preferably by the component agencies—and identification of a problem or set of specific problems to be solved. This is a critical step in a transformation process. It contributes to the sense of urgency and mobilizes a commitment to change.
Establish a Powerful Guiding Coalition and Shared Vision
Naturally, successful change requires the support of organizational leaders and transformation often starts because of a leader’s desires. But successful change requires support from more than a few people (Kotter, 2007). Without some mass of support, change will not be successful. That suggests that DHS needs to create a powerful core guiding coalition. It also needs to create consensus (get buy-in) on the vision, which was articulated by the committee in Recommendation 1. One of the most important preconditions of successful transformation is a collective (shared) vision. The vision of where DHS leaders want the organization to go answers the simple—yet radical—question. When we are successful in our work at a particular point of time in the future, what will our organization look like? A vision tells leadership and those with whom DHS works, lives, and associates, what it is they are going to do. A vision is not a strategy and is not a plan. It describes the future that DHS
desires and is committed to realizing. A vision shows where DHS wants to be. It conveys conviction and aspiration—a picture of what could be. The strategy (or strategic plan) connects today’s DHS with the vision that DHS will have committed to attaining. The vision should provide a basis of the organization’s principles, systems, processes, and practices. Together, those will strengthen the culture and thereby fuel employees’ capabilities to work together and deliver the results that DHS needs.
Committed Component Agencies and Engaged Leadership
Commitment to change is always uneven. But to be successful, DHS leadership needs to find ways to win commitment off all component agencies. As change processes progress, the more successful change programs involve large numbers of people. The guiding coalition can motivate and empower others to take part simply by communicating the new vision. But that is rarely sufficient. Thus, organizations need to remove obstacles. DHS leadership has to identify the most important obstacles to component agency participation. One way to do that is to focus attention on the component agencies that have already begun experimenting or institutionalizing the innovations that DHS envisions. (See Chapter 1 for examples of activities that components have initiated.) If leaders of component agencies are unaware of the change efforts, and are not visibly engaged or visibly committed, it is unlikely that the transformation effort will be successful. Commitment is essential for the effort, initiative, and cooperation that coordinated action demands (Beer et al., 1990). It may require new competencies, such as knowledge.
Communicating and Listening
Communication is critical for successful change efforts, and it is easy to underestimate how much is required. Without credible communication, DHS will not capture the hearts and minds of its workforce. DHS has to use every possible channel to broadcast and rebroadcast the vision. Leaders will incorporate key messages about the vision throughout their communication. It is important to remember that communication comes in both words and deeds. Employees are often quick to discern incongruity between what the organization says it wants and how it acts. Thus, key leaders need to act in ways that are consistent with the vision—in other words, they must walk the talk. But they also need to seek feedback from employees, both to understand whether the message of change is
getting through and to understand how they might want to adapt or modify the program. Leaders often launch change processes and then leave them; successful change efforts require modifications and alterations along the way.
Recognize, Reward, and Celebrate Accomplishments
The committee heard consistently from frontline workers during site visits that they do not feel valued and that the message from headquarters is that they are replaceable. Those sentiments are also conveyed in the DHS FEVS results. DHS has some formal awards programs and initiatives in component agencies but no formal or consistent strategy. If employees do not feel valued and recognized, morale decreases, negativity arises, and adverse outcomes occur (Ballard, 2007).
Goals for the DHS Workforce
The mission of DHS is as follows:
We will lead efforts to achieve a safe, secure, and resilient homeland. We will counter terrorism and enhance our security; secure and manage our borders; enforce and administer our immigration laws; protect cyber networks and critical infrastructure; and ensure resilience from disasters. We will accomplish these missions while providing essential support to national and economic security and maturing and strengthening both the Department of Homeland Security and the homeland security enterprise [emphasis added].2
Any program aimed at enhancing the readiness and resilience of the DHS workforce should have well-defined goals that track to the strategic goals of the department, all of which are laid out in the DHS Strategic Plan (DHS, 2012). The DHS Strategic Plan 2012–2016 is divided into five major mission areas, the fifth of which is “Maturing and Strengthening DHS.” Goal V.2, “Enhance DHS Workforce,” has two objectives that are related directly to the issue of enhancing workforce resilience and actions or tasks to be undertaken: “strengthen coordination within DHS through
2See http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/dhs-strategic-plan-fy-2012-2016.pdf (accessed July 9, 2013).
cross-departmental training and career paths” and “improve employee health, wellness, and resilience” (see Box 2-3).
In July 2010, DHS released a Bottom-Up Review Report (BUR) (DHS, 2010), which was conducted at the same time as the DHS Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) and is a departmentwide assessment of the programmatic activities and organizational structure
DHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2012–2016 (Excerpt)
Goal: Enhance DHS Workforce
Continue to build human resource programs that support departmental mission goals and objectives, create high technical proficiency, and address the needs of the department’s employees in executing DHS missions.
1. Strengthen coordination within DHS through cross-departmental training and career paths
• Develop DHS career paths that provide mobility within the department and span Headquarters and Operational Components.
• Develop opportunities at Headquarters and the Components to enhance awareness of operations and appreciation for specific missions throughout the department.
• Provide rotational assignment opportunities throughout the department, taking into consideration the impact on mission requirements and individual career paths.
• Explore interagency and intergovernmental rotational assignments with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners.
2. Improve employee health, wellness, and resilience
• Sustain established programs like the DHSTogether Employee and Organizational Resilience Initiative to ensure department employees have the tools and resources to manage the stresses inherent in DHS occupations.
• Implement Workplace Wellness programs, including employee resilience training, to address the needs of the department’s diverse workforce.
• Create a standardized, metrics-driven health program to support the unique needs of our operational workforce.
• Implement frontline medical programs to support operational missions, staffed and supported with appropriate training and equipment.
• Establish a department program to harness the insights and innovations of the DHS workforce.
SOURCE: DHS, 2012.
with the mission sets and goals identified in the QHSR. One section of the BUR focuses on operations and management of the department. Relevant recommendations to improve departmental management include the following:
• Seek restoration of the Secretary’s reorganizational authority for DHS headquarters to address new threats and realize greater efficiencies.3
• Realign component regional configurations into a single DHS regional structure.
• Improve cross-departmental management, policy, and functional integration.
• Invest in the DHS workforce and improve retention and morale by strengthening employee health and wellness programs.
• Strengthen coordination within DHS through cross-departmental training and career paths.4
The DHSTogether program is explicitly mentioned in the BUR as an initiative to ensure that the workforce has the tools and resources that it needs to manage the stresses inherent in their jobs. The report noted that “DHS also plans to implement Workplace Wellness programs, including employee resilience training, to address the needs of the department’s diverse workforce” (DHS, 2010). The report indicates that DHS will create a standardized, metrics-driven health program that supports the unique needs of the operational workforce and will create frontline medical programs that support operational missions and are staffed and supported with appropriate training and equipment. According to the report,
3“Currently, the Secretary of Homeland Security cannot reorganize DHS in the manner envisioned by the Homeland Security Act, thereby severely limiting her ability to manage the department through a rapidly evolving security environment. Though much progress has been made in adopting a risk management posture and culture across DHS, there remains work to be done in carrying out a national risk assessment and further inculcating risk management principles and priorities throughout all DHS activities” (DHS, 2010).
4“DHS’s most valuable resource is its people. Thus, any effort to achieve a unified DHS must focus on the men and women who work in DHS. DHS will strengthen Department unity by developing DHS career paths that provide mobility within the Department and span headquarters and operational components. DHS will also increase the number of DHS component personnel on rotation in headquarters directorates and offices, and the number of DHS headquarters personnel on rotation in components. As part of interagency national security and homeland security professional development, DHS will also explore interagency and intergovernmental rotational assignments with Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial partners” (DHS, 2010).
DHS will also expand the Transportation Security Administration’s IdeaFactory across the department to “harness the insights and innovations of the DHS workforce” (DHS, 2010). However, since the time of the report, little progress has been made to achieve these goals.
Government performance and accountability practices require that government programs have well-defined and measurable objectives. The committee heard from staff in DHS headquarters and the DHS components that data to measure resilience of the DHS workforce (or even obtain a baseline state) are difficult or impossible to acquire. The committee understands the limitations of a DHS program to measure the completion of or progress toward objective measures. Nonetheless, higher priority needs to be attached to the acquisition of the data needed to meet this crucial set of goals in support of the mission statement (see Chapter 4 for a discussion of metrics).
Leaders of the department and DHSTogether have been viewing FEVS as a surrogate for workforce resilience. Although it may reflect employee satisfaction with some accuracy, the committee was skeptical of its validity as a surrogate for workforce resilience. Key messages from the FEVS included a general dissatisfaction with supervisors and leadership and a lack of an advancement path based on merit, yet very high scores on belief in the importance of their jobs and a positive mission orientation. It may be that the latter attributes are better predictors of a workforce that achieves outcomes in the face of adversity and strain.
Irrespective of its value as a surrogate for resilience, the committee is sensitive to the department’s desire to improve FEVS results. The greatest deficits in employee satisfaction identified in the FEVS—lack of career paths that provide upward mobility based on merit—are precisely called for under Objective V.2.1 of the Strategic Plan. Moreover, the plan defines specifically the role of DHSTogether: “to ensure Department employees have the tools and resources to manage the stresses inherent in DHS occupations” (DHS, 2012). Although “ensuring” that “employees have the tools and resources” is an impossible and inappropriate order for a small, thinly funded program, it does provide secretarial-level guidance for the work that has to be done to strengthen workforce resilience. Such an initiative cannot “ensure” anything, but a sequential approach could be undertaken. The program could seek to identify, de-
fine, measure, and suggest parameters, tools, resources (or the lack thereof) and provide the department, the president’s Office of Management and Budget, and Congress with an evidence-based approach to meet the objective of improving employee readiness and resilience.
The committee was moved by the comments of (now former) Deputy Secretary Jane Lute in its second meeting, who provided passionate insight into the need and purpose of a healthy, resilient DHS workforce, and from former US Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen in testimony to Congress (Allen, 2012). Borrowing from their insights and from its members own experience and expertise, the committee offers the following broad goals for the department’s readiness and resilience efforts:
• A DHS corporate culture in which each employee understands and appreciates her or his role in the DHS mission.
• All DHS employees understand that the purpose of DHS is to help create a safe, secure, and resilient nation in which the American way of life can thrive.
• A DHS workforce with purpose and pride in its mission accomplishments.
• A DHS workforce that is highly functioning, healthy, productive, informed, trained, ready, and, in the face of adversity, resilient in order to fulfill the DHS mission.
• A DHS leadership structure that is well trained and supportive of its employees and possesses the skills to lead through steady state and in crisis.
• A DHS workforce that has the tools and resources at its disposal to meet its mission while keeping work and life issues in balance.
If implemented effectively, the readiness and resilience strategy could promote DHS as a leader among federal government bodies with regard to interconnectedness of leadership, training, wellness, work-life balance, readiness, and resilience of the workforce.
The committee recognizes that DHS cannot be successful in this endeavor without the support of the Office of Management and Budget and Congress, particularly the appropriators. Meeting the strategic objective “to ensure Department employees have the tools and resources to manage the stresses inherent in DHS occupations” has not had high budget priority for the department, which is the first step in receiving funding support from the president and Congress. The DHS budget-in-brief is replete with mention of “resilience” in every office from the Federal
Emergency Management Agency to the Privacy Office, but a search for workforce resilience comes up empty.
Policies and Resources
In addition to assessing gaps in DHSTogether activities and programs, the committee was asked to assess gaps in policies and resources, and it identified several. As discussed in Chapter 1, a top-down uniform approach to WRR is not realistic or even desirable in DHS. However, core policies and activities that are unified throughout the department are needed, as are core measures to assess effectiveness and progress of WRR, both within the components and DHS-wide (see Chapter 4). DHS’s uniqueness in size and functional diversity brings with it challenges but also opportunities for the department’s components to learn from each other and realize cost savings by streamlining where appropriate. Implementing these kinds of policies throughout the department requires certain authority and accountability.
The conditions needed for success of any initiative are discussed earlier in this chapter and suggest that the more successful change programs involve large numbers of people, a powerful guiding coalition, and high levels of engagement—in the case of DHS, engagement by component agencies. To meet the conditions for success, cross-cutting programs require the authority to establish departmentwide policies, the ability to hold participating units accountable for policy implementation and adherence, and management responsibilities relevant to the needs of the program. OHA does not currently have those capabilities. It lacks specific authority to task DHS offices and components to implement such a program, the needed breadth of resources, and adequate administrative support for a departmentwide program. In addition, there is no accountability for the program; there are no annual reports and no ties to performance. Therefore, the committee concludes that it is not possible for OHA as currently constituted to effect change for WRR.
In other organizations, similar types of resilience or wellness and prevention programs are housed at a high administrative level that has these kinds of authorities (for example, at the level of an under secretary
of DHS). For example, the US Army Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program5 (which aims to improve workforce resilience) is a headquarters-level program that sits immediately below the three-star flag officer6 in charge of operations and training for the entire Army. In the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Employee Assistance Program and critical incident/peer support programs were raised to the top administrative office to ensure the emotional and mental health of the workforce. In the private sector, Proctor & Gamble’s Global Employee Health & Wellness program for its 126,000 employees around the world sits in the Headquarters Human Capital Office, as does Johnson & Johnson’s health program, which covers 125,000 employees in more than 250 operating companies in 60 countries (Christensen, 2013, Isaac, 2013).
WRR also needs visibility to be successful. Lack of visibility has been a challenge for OHA in achieving success with DHSTogether. As noted, most of the DHS employees with whom the committee had contact during its information gathering had not heard of DHSTogether and did not know that they could contact OHA as a resource for best practices or advice. The success of DHSTogether has also been hindered by OHA’s inability to mandate activities, to establish departmentwide policies for component agencies, or to partner successfully with component agencies in a meaningful way to learn and disseminate best practices. The committee believes the roles and responsibilities for WRR need to be clarified and expanded to address the program, policy, and accountability gaps identified.
Recommendation 2: Clarify and expand the roles and responsibilities for workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.
The committee recommends that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security review the current roles and responsibilities of the workforce readiness and resilience (WRR) effort and make any needed changes to ensure its success. A successful WRR effort requires
6A three-star officer is a very senior commander and has a NATO code of OF-8 (out of OF1–OF10).
a. Tasking authority to the operational components and headquarters offices for input, feedback, coordination and development of programmatic content.
b. Development, implementation, and execution of a long-term strategic plan informed by this report.
c. Identification, coordination, and access to the necessary resources to ensure its viability and sustainability.
d. Development and implementation of evidence-based performance metrics to assess program effectiveness.7
e. Use of data-driven decision making to continuously improve its quality and performance.
f. Leadership and direction to the components for these purposes.
g. Annual report to the Secretary on the state of WRR.
To ensure that readiness and resilience become embedded in the DHS culture, DHS needs to ensure authority and create accountability for building and maintaining WRR. In Recommendation 2g and in the elements of the 5-year strategic plan recommended in this report, the committee has suggested an annual report on WRR to the Secretary as a measure of accountability for the overall program. The committee also believes that to ensure successful implementation at all levels of the department, clear, measurable goals and objectives for WRR need to be developed, and DHS consider holding component heads accountable for WRR activities as part of their performance evaluations.
Both at the department level and within the components, implementation of WRR will call on the best efforts of a variety of staff and leadership, including human capital, information technology, communication, and financial offices, among others. For example, the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO), situated in the Management Directorate, performs several roles that are relevant to WRR. It is important to note, however, that, like OHA, OCHCO does not have tasking authority to component agencies. It houses the current leadership development program and other DHS training activities; provides guidance for wellness activities departmentwide; provides input on employee assistance programs (EAPs) for all components; and oversees the Employee Engagement Executive Steering Committee (EEESC), which is tasked with improving engagement, morale, and communication throughout the de-
7See Recommendation 6.
partment (recommendations on leadership development and organizational communication are offered in Chapter 3). In addition, the Human Capital Business Systems in OCHCO house many of the data available to DHS that could be used for assessment and evaluation of WRR. Another example is the DHS chief information officer (CIO), also in the Management Directorate, who is responsible for information technology (IT) integration (consolidation, integration, and standardization); program management of data and systems needed to measure, evaluate, and report; and leveraging of IT throughout DHS to support more effective mission outcomes. The CIO will have a large role in ensuring that the committee’s recommendation on measurement, evaluation, and reporting (see Chapter 4) is effectively implemented. However, administrative oversight of these offices falls under the under secretary for management, not OHA.
As noted earlier, the inability of OHA to implement departmentwide policies is a formidable gap, which probably will not be fully addressed through the roles and responsibilities outlined in Recommendation 2. The committee was not specifically charged to prescribe how the resilience program should be managed, so it does not provide a specific recommendation in this regard. However, given the inherent weaknesses in the current structure, the committee concludes that OHA is not currently well suited to house WRR. There are any number of potential avenues to address the lack of authority and accountability for a departmentwide WRR effort, from restructuring of the existing program unit to administrative placement of WRR under a centralized DHS authority. When (now former) DHS Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alex Garza addressed the committee at its first meeting to discuss the study’s statement of task, the committee asked for his thoughts about the placement of DHSTogether. He stated that he did not know where the DHSTogether program would ultimately be placed and noted that there are nonhealth elements in the program, such as training and management, which are based in other component agencies. To ensure the success of WRR, the effort needs the requisite authority and accountability to facilitate departmentwide implementation to fulfill the roles and responsibilities outlined in Recommendation 2.
The committee concludes that DHS needs a fresh approach to WRR. The DHSTogether program is small and is not embedded in the DHS culture. It is a headquarters initiative that is not widely recognized or accepted by DHS component agencies as a resource for improving morale, readiness, or resilience of the workforce. The name “DHSTogether” is problematic in that it is inconsistent with the current, understandably siloed culture in DHS and seems to be more wishful than intrinsic to the organization. On the basis of its review, the committee found that the current DHSTogether Employee and Organizational Resilience Program has not achieved its intended purpose, because of the lack of consistent leadership support, the absence of a strategic plan, the lack of needed authority and accountability, and suboptimal administrative placement of the program in the department. The committee views as major gaps OHA’s lack of necessary authority to carry out a departmentwide readiness and resilience program and the lack of a high-level point of accountability for component agencies.
Recommendation 3: Review and align responsibility and accountability for workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.
Given the need for a fresh approach to workforce readiness and resilience (WRR), the committee recommends that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security examine the organizational placement of WRR in the department and ensure that it has adequate authority and resources to build, nurture, and sustain it.
The DHSTogether program currently lacks the authority, influence, branding, and name recognition needed to be successful. The committee was asked to identify gaps and the current program’s inability to implement needed policies and provide the necessary breadth of resources for this vital endeavor to succeed is a salient one and calls for a fresh approach and an examination of its organizational placement. Regardless of how the Secretary decides to address the gap, the seven responsibilities, authorities, and functions outlined in Recommendation 2 are critical for the success of WRR in ensuring centralized direction, coordination, visibility, and support to communicate and promulgate a program of its caliber. Implementing these recommendations would send a strong message to the workforce and DHS component leadership that the secretary at-
taches high priority to that workforce resilience. The committee sees the evaluation offered in this report as a chance for the DHS readiness and resilience effort to be rebranded and to start anew with a fresh strategy, one clear vision, mission, and goals, enabled by a robust communication strategy.
Engagement and Coordination with Component Agencies
In addition to tasking authority, the head of WRR needs to ensure engagement and a two-way conversation with the component agencies to ensure that program content matches the needs of the workforce (Recommendation 2a). There are several options for WRR to receive input from and engage the operational components and headquarters offices to coordinate the development of programmatic content and promote organizational support of the program. One option would be to revive and restructure the Employee and Organizational Resilience Program Taskforce that was created with the DHSTogether program. (See Chapter 1 for a description.) The committee heard from OHA staff that top leadership is responsive to issues of workforce resilience, but leadership attention in any organization waxes and wanes as other priorities arise.
That is why it is paramount that the new approach to DHS workforce readiness and resilience become an intrinsic part of the organization so that WRR efforts can be sustained as top leadership changes and competing priorities arise. However input is obtained, a multidisciplinary approach with buy-in from the components and input from personnel who have on-the-ground experience in their components will be needed. If the input comes from too high in the department (such as headquarters), that will perpetuate the disconnect that employees feel from component headquarters and from DHS. The input needs to be grounded in the day-to-day culture, have a full understanding of the stressors of the job, and be immune to politics. The Employee and Organizational Resilience Program Taskforce technically is still part of the resilience program structure. If it is revitalized, its membership structure would need to be changed to one that is likely to last and have buy-in from the bottom up in each component.
Another option is to expand the role of the EEESC, whose role is departmentwide direction for engagement, to share component or industry best practices, and have component heads oversee the inclusion of the engagement performance objective into all action plans. (See Chapter 1
for a full description.) However, most of the individuals serving on the committee are at the under secretary level, and this would perpetuate the disconnect felt between the workforce and headquarters initiatives.
In the 2013 Annual Status Report of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, DHS noted that OHA, in collaboration with the Office of Management and OCHCO, “will jointly establish a cross-component DHS Prevention Council to formalize interdepartmental collaboration activities. The Council will explore the feasibility of a ‘One Healthier DHS’ campaign that would incorporate incremental selection of consensus action items taken from the National Prevention Strategy. The Council will be established by September 2013” (National Prevention Council, 2013). If that council is created, it could potentially also serve as a channel for input into WRR but would need to be woven into the larger WRR architecture.
Another option would be for DHS to form Health and Productivity Committees or Councils (generally known as wellness and well-being committees) in the components that feed into a larger body (perhaps the taskforce, EEESC, or a new advisory body for the program, such as a readiness and resilience steering committee). Component agencies could each have a council, in each worksite location, that submits recommendations regarding workforce needs. A similar format has been implemented successfully in the Army and in some private-sector industries. The committees or councils could also be used as sounding boards for activities or programs that the readiness and resilience program is looking to implement. That would give the workforce ownership over what is implemented and would increase engagement. A wealth of information on best practices for forming wellness committees or councils is available (Gantner, 2010; Kaiser Permanente, 2013; WellWorks NC, 2012).
The Health and Productivity Council would comprise employees drawn from a cross-section of potential program participants who volunteer. Councils of this type help to convey the importance of a healthy lifestyle, improve morale and engagement, and ensure wellness initiatives. They are what employees want (often using surveys) and are tailored to encourage positive behavior changes that are sustainable. The members generally serve for at least a year and are the champions on the ground for programs and services between senior leadership and the workforce. Depending on the size of the organization, membership is ideally 8 to 25 people who represent the various departments (Gantner, 2010; WellWorks NC, 2012).
Health and Productivity Councils can bring about change of three kinds (Gantner, 2010):
1. Individual changes, by providing education, opportunities for motivation and skill building, and engaging meaningful, fun, and challenging activities to help individuals make healthy changes, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or filling the vending machines with more healthy snacks.
2. Interpersonal social changes, by getting groups to be involved in team competition, a weight-race campaign, or a resilience and well-being campaign to learn to make healthy choices the easiest choices.
3. Organizational change, by improving the culture of the workplace via policies, norms, and practices, such as a tobacco-free-workplace policy, a policy to get up and stretch at work every hour on the hour, or help in influencing a positive mindset in the workplace by encouraging employees to learn to trust and support each other.
Research supports the idea that people make changes to adopt healthier new behaviors when they are included in the decision-making process to value and support the changes. Best practices for health and productivity and wellness councils are available in Box 2-4. Roles of such committees or councils might include evaluating current programs and policies; assessing employee needs and preferences; developing a health promotion operating plan, including a vision statement, goals, and objectives; and assisting in implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of worksite health activities (CDC, 2013).
Health and Productivity and Wellness Council Best Practices
How a Wellness Committee Works
• Is a group of employees from all levels of the organization with varied positions who are empowered by senior management
• Create a Vision and Mission for their location (that feeds into the departments overall vision)
• Communicate information about risk factors (lifestyle and chronic conditions and psychosocial issues), and create opportunities for health improvement
• Are educated and informed about the latest trends, best practices and research, and participate in training via once per month meetings that usually last 1 hour
• Support programs and services and communicate in a positive manner to help others achieve their goals
• Ask for feedback on, and evaluate health and productivity activities with standardized evaluation forms offered for employees to complete who participated in some activities
• Engages others and help to design incentives that are rewarding and meaningful to their department or company
• Serve as wellness champions or ambassadors
• Support senior leaders and management in achieving the organization’s goals and objectives, with respect for budgetary constraints.
• Learn to read a scorecard and compare their department to others throughout the organization to measure progress
Choosing Wellness Committee Members
• Individuals should be personally interested in their health and wellbeing and promoting a prosocial attitude in others
• Aware of the benefits of programs and services offered
• Well-respected and trusted by others—seen as fair and compassionate
• Able to get tasks done on time
• Supportive of others and encouraging to them
• Creative and imaginative
• Respectful of the needs, wants, and expectations of others
• Willing and able to commit time necessary to achieve the committee goals and vision. This averages 4 hours per month, and for special projects, as much as 2 to 4 hours per week
• A policy is developed so supervisors give committee members time to attend and plan wellness initiatives
Committee Members’ Roles and Responsibilities
• Conduct meetings with a clearly defined agenda and have a chair and co-chair
• Record decisions made and plan agreed upon committee activities by the quarter and year—follow the National Calendar of Health as an example
• Form subgroups and assign them specific tasks and timelines for completion
• Coordinate specific wellness initiatives and have a good communication plan
• Prepare and submit materials to organizational leadership as needed for annual program approval and evaluation
• Stay within budgetary constraints permitted
• Distribute, collect, score, and report the results of employee surveys and evaluations for activities completed
SOURCE: Gantner, 2010.
The unified approach recommended by the committee with a feedback mechanism in place will create component and employee ownership (upward instead of downward flow) of the program. For example, not only is physical fitness important for much of the workforce when doing their jobs (for example, border patrol agents have physically demanding jobs), but when employees from anywhere in a company are physically fit, they will perform their jobs better. Having the opportunity and encouragement of an employer to exercise during the work day benefits both the employer and employees. The committee found that policies regarding time to exercise and the availability of gyms vary widely even within components. In some locations, a gym is available but time to use it is not. A unified approach might state that all components must have an exercise facility onsite (or reasonably nearby), have a clear policy on when it can be used, and allow employees to use work time to use it. That would be implemented differently in a component that works largely typical hours and one that has shift work. If the department decided to implement stress management and self-care training, it could be a DHS-wide program with consistent measures for baseline and evaluation but tailored to the particular stressors or concerns of a component or subcomponent.
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