WASHINGTON -- An updated Army program plans to enhance the health, fitness, and quality of life of Army civilians, as the force continues to refine the way it acquires and retains talent in support of the Army People Strategy.
The Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program will authorize civilians up to three hours of administrative leave per week, with no more than one hour per day, to participate in physical fitness and preventative health activities, said Todd Fore, the deputy assistant secretary of the army for civilian personnel.
The program is outlined under Army Directive 2021-03, which was released in January, and will supersede current Army Regulation 600-63 for health promotion. The change will eliminate the one-time use, six-month duration requirement outlined in the old policy, granting civilians more flexibility to achieve their health and fitness goals.
"We received a lot of [program] feedback," Fore said Thursday. "When it comes to acquiring new personnel, we have people ask about our wellness program. So we rolled out the Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program to stay competitive."
Retaining personnel is also a top priority, as the program will continue to enhance an individual's work and life balance as well as increase morale, Fore added.
The Army is the third-largest federal employer with close to 300,000 civilians operating throughout the entire force, officials said.
Over the summer, the Army rolled out a Civilian Implementation Plan, which covers several efforts including the health and fitness program to help transform the workforce. It also aims to modernize civilian talent acquisition, evolve career programs to be integral to the people enterprise, and to help build world-class supervisors.
According to research compiled by the health program’s leaders, employees who can participate in a fitness and health promotion program experience increased readiness, resiliency, and productivity. Individuals also exhibit improved job and life satisfaction, all while reducing sick leave use.
The program is not an entitlement, as it is deemed voluntary for all employees and must be pre-approved by the individual's chain of command, Fore said.
Mission requirements will take precedence and dictate the available times for program participation, he added. Leaders will have the authority to implement and administer the program to best support their organization.
If a request is approved, an employee must submit a program participation agreement before receiving time off to engage in health and fitness activities.
Individuals and supervisors are required to account for all fitness periods and annotate it as administrative leave within the Automated Time Attendance and Production System, or as a related code in similar timecard systems.
"This has been in the works for a while as we received great collaboration across the Army from various organizations," Fore said. "I think that we have struck the right balance in implementing a wellness program for all the right reasons to best support our Army civilians."
All employees must report to their organization before and after an authorized fitness period, officials said. The allotted interval includes time to change, shower, and travel to and from a location. Missed hours do not accumulate or carry over to future weeks.
Employees can also use the allotted time to garner positive health habits through preventive health support and education. The Federal Occupational Health agency provides access to virtual wellness programs, online health risk assessment, cholesterol and glucose testing, blood pressure monitoring, and other health-related services. For more information, call 1-866-436-4457 or visit their website.
"Our civilians are critical to the Army mission. We want a resilient civilian corps to support our many organizations," he said.
For more information about the Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program, individuals should contact their servicing civilian personnel office.