Army Materiel Command employees now have some extra muscle behind their exercise and holistic fitness goals.
Based on the Army’s new guidance, AMC is implementing a new Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program policy throughout its enterprise that includes two major changes focused on providing additional fitness and health opportunities for employees. The policy is focused on encouraging healthier employees, which directly impacts the Army’s readiness goal.
“This flexibility provides an additional tool for AMC Civilians to leverage in pursuit of enhanced health and wellness. A healthier and fit workforce contributes to readiness and optimized output,” said Max Wyche, the deputy chief of staff for AMC G-1 (Human Resources).
The new Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program removes the six-month, once-in-a-career limitation on use of administrative leave for up to three hours of physical fitness and health activities each week. The updated policy allows employees to use administrative leave for up to three hours a week for a total of 80 hours a year to participate in command-sponsored fitness and health promotion programs.
The new policy also expands the definition of fitness and health promotion programs to include not only physical fitness activities but also preventive health events and education on health promotion topics.
“This is an outward demonstration of AMC’s priority of putting people first. It also sends a message to employees that senior leaders support the importance of employees adopting a healthy lifestyle,” said Valerie Francis, AMC’s Health Promotion Program Manager.
It’s been long understood that healthy employees make for highly productive teams. Industry surveys show a direct correlation between employee wellbeing and workplace performance.
“Employees are AMC’s most valuable asset. It is important we provide programs and educational opportunities to help them maintain work-life balance,” Francis said. “The program not only reaps rewards for the employee, but increases readiness, resilience and productivity in the workplace to ensure the AMC mission is accomplished.”
With supervisor approval and a completed participation form, AMC employees in good standing are provided up to three hours per week to pursue their fitness and health goals, she said. The provision remains in place as long as supervisors and employees maintain the participation agreement, but cannot exceed 80 hours a year per statutory mandate.
AMC major subordinate commands are encouraged to provide a variety of exercise opportunities to meet the needs of all employees.
“A command-sponsored exercise activity can be as simple as taking a walk, which does not require a facility or special equipment,” Francis said. “We encourage the use of fitness centers that are located on the installation or on site as well.”
Now that AMC’s policy has been released, each AMC major subordinate command will base their own fitness and health promotion programs on their mission and commander’s guidance, Francis said.
“Once supervisors understand the policy and the policy is implemented at the command level, the employee will be required to have a signed contract with their supervisor to participate,” she said. “Supervisors are responsible for an employees work schedule so they have oversight and visibility of employee participation, and can dis-enroll an employee if they are not following policy guidelines.”
Employees are not only required to have a participation agreement, but they must also request specific times for participation in advance, which gives the supervisor the ability to manage mission requirements, she said. Participation time has to be recorded in the time and attendance system as administrative leave. The activity session must include travel time and preparation time, and employees must report when they leave work to exercise and when they return to work. Employees can combine their sessions with their lunch hour to provide additional time for travel and/or changing from work to workout clothes.
Participation agreements must be renewed at least annually. If an employee leaves for another position or is assigned a new supervisor, they will be required to have a new signed participation agreement with their new supervisor.
“A supervisor can refuse to sign based on mission requirements,” Francis said. “Plus, an employee serving on a performance improvement plan, who is subject to leave restrictions, or who has been formally disciplined for lack of candor or similar offense within the previous 12 months are ineligible to participate in the program.”
If managed correctly, the new program has the potential to have a positive impact on both employees and their work environment along with the mission.
“The renewal period gives both the supervisor and employee a chance to discuss the impact of the program on employee and workplace wellbeing,” Francis said. “The program is not just about physical fitness improvement. It’s also about holistic wellness and about improving AMC’s most valuable asset – its people.”