Organizing with Purpose Conference Session:

Intentional Design: Organization Design for Employee Well-being

Kavitha Reddy, Charles Gray, Tamara Schult

Peer Workshop

Bio

Kavitha Reddy (Left)

Kavitha Reddy, MD, FACEP, ABoIM, is currently the Associate Director of Employee Whole Health in the VHA Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation (OPCC&CT). She is an Emergency Medicine and Integrative Medicine physician at VA St. Louis Healthcare System in Missouri and an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine. She previously served for 3 years as the Whole Health System Clinical Director for the VA St. Louis Healthcare System and ten years as a National Whole Health Champion for VHA OPCC&CT.

Charles Gray (Center)

Charles Gray, PhD, MBA, is an Employee Whole Health Clinical Champion with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He helps lead national initiatives related to employee well-being, self-care, and cultural transformation. In addition, he works on an evaluation team for enterprise-wide initiatives. His research interest center around workplace well-being, organizational support of self-care, and management science.

Tamara Schult (Right)

Tamara Schult, PhD, MPH, is a Health System Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her initial public health training in Epidemiology sparked her research interests in chronic disease and primary prevention. As she continued her education in Occupational Health Services Research and Policy, interests in population and workforce health were added. She is committed to promoting self-care and helping all employees in VA optimize their well-being and build resiliency.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is piloting the ability for employees to participate in self-care activities while at work. This pilot set aside 1-hour of protected time for employees to engage in self-care. The results of this pilot will be discussed making important linkages to how managers/organizations support employees’ health and well-being.

Description:

Employee Whole Health (EWH) empowers and equips employees to take charge of their health and well-being, integrating well-being skills-building programming (WBP) at work. During the COVID response, there was a pronounced increase in the delivery of WBP, however, VA employees cite lack of duty time to participate in self-care as a key barrier to utilization of WBP. Therefore, to support greater participation, EWH embarked on a pilot in three VA medical centers, labor mapping employees for 60 minutes of protected time per week to participate in WBP for the duration of a 12-month pilot.

The pilot is ongoing; results of the six-month evaluation will be reported. Employees in multiple departments within each medical center were offered protected time. Supervisors expressed appreciation and observable benefits of allowing employees and/or themselves the opportunity to focus on self-care as part of their workday. However, given the pandemic and high workload within most medical units, workload was identified as an ongoing barrier to self-care and engagement in WBP despite employees having protected time. Early results show that despite the perceived benefits of a regular, routine self-care allotment, significant barriers remain. Policies that support that health and well-being of employees are important, however equally important are the necessary shifts in an organization’s overall culture allowing for more widespread adoption of supportive policies.

Sharing the results of this undertaking will help practitioners better understand the linkages to how organization design supports employee well-being.

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