Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final in a series of articles outlining U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s “All Things People” effort. In the preceding articles, ATP as a multi-layered effort to recruit and develop a professional and empowered workforce was examined. In this article, the third sub-heading under ATP: Sustain Workforce Readiness will be addressed.
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — ASC is the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s “face to the field.” As such, ASC is very much centered on logistics, getting anything a Soldier requires to them, in good condition, wherever and whenever it’s needed. This includes weapons, vehicles, food, billeting and a myriad of other items and services, large and small, that a Soldier will need to prepare for combat or to support them during combat.
This effort requires Soldiers and Civilians at ASC positions worldwide to be at their best physically and mentally, to plan and coordinate complex logistical issues, including dealing with problems that inevitably emerge.
“Sustain the Force is the effort to provide the needed support to the workforce to fight and win conflicts,” said ASC command surgeon Lt. Col. Kathryn Johnson, adding that ATP is specifically focused on providing support and services required to maintain a healthy and vibrant workforce.
The concept of ATP is akin to a three-legged stool. Each effort can be seen as separate, but all are dependent on the other two. Recruitment is meant to bring bright and talented people in, while developing and empowering is meant to foster a “team” atmosphere. In a team environment, individuals develop skills and work to support the organization while being confident the organization will support them as well.
Sustaining the force means keeping these team members at their best and functioning at a high level. Each of these efforts are different, but very much dependent on each other for the good of the command and the Soldiers it serves.
“As opposed to focusing on the number of people in our workforce and how they are distributed, Sustain the Force focuses on what they need to be happy and successful,” Johnson said.
There are ongoing events and classes from both ASC and AMC on resilience and wellness topics. Some recent topics included a one-hour online discussion about avoiding gastrointestinal problems, how caffeine can disrupt sleep, a four-week long physical fitness program, and tips on being proactive about your health.
Another effort includes a Command Climate Survey, a way for command leaders to get employee thoughts on work conditions, including professionalism in the workplace, whether the employee feels his or her opinions are valued, and if they feel there is a path to leadership available.
The most recent survey “highlighted how much happier employees are when they can better blend their work and home life,” said Lee Hansen, ASC G1 (Human Resources) director.
ATP programs and initiatives are part of a natural progression that started long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it continues as businesses and organizations adapt to the “new normal,” involving much more remote work for most employees.
“Hard things become so much simpler, like being able to pick up a sick child from school and not worrying about snow days,” Hansen said, adding “many of the employees who are experiencing this ‘new normal’ are more productive and are also appreciative of how the command is supporting their personal lives.”
Regularly scheduled virtual “town halls” allow the command leadership to get important messages out to the workforce and get employees’ feedback through question-and-answer sessions.
The command is also heavily invested in the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, aka SHARP, program. Sexual harassment and assault are not tolerated, and if an incident is reported it is immediately investigated.
This is just a partial listing of some of the many ways ASC is actively trying to ensure that everyone in its workforce feels safe and empowered. It also nurtures and mentors its workforce to bring up future leaders.
In previous articles, some of these same programs were mentioned, and that is because these efforts work best when they are part of an integrated program, bringing safety, inclusiveness, and empowerment to the workforce.
ASC takes ATP very seriously and is in the forefront of developing and sustaining a professional workforce, a workforce that enables ASC to support America’s warfighters, and solve complex logistical and technical problems that will always present themselves in an organization so multifaceted and widespread.
ASC is in direct competition with private industry and with other government agencies for knowledgeable and accomplished workers, and it must stand out as a place that offers employees tangible benefits.
Hansen said the COVID pandemic changed the recruitment landscape. Current employees, potential applicants, and many businesses learned all can benefit from a hybrid workplace where employees can work from home far more frequently than what was once thought possible.
An important part of ASC Sustain the Force efforts is the G1 Integration Team, which develops and administers programs aimed directly at the physical and mental health of the ASC workforce and their families.
Programs like Lifestyle Transformation, according to its description, “helps participants to build healthy habits to align with how you want to feel every day.” It is an on-line, 8-week, interactive class taught by Certified Health and Life Coaches and is “designed to empower employees to not only reach their personal goals, but to maintain optimal health throughout their life by implementing lifestyle changes.” It is offered several times a year.
Weekly messages are sent to the workforce with thoughts on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance. These offer suggestions on how to eat healthy, how to de-stress, and other tips to maintain optimal physical and mental health.
At ASC headquarters, a recently opened “recharge room” gives employees and Soldiers a place to take a break and relax for 15-20 minutes, or lift weights or use cardio machines. The rationale behind it is that taking a break during the workday gives workforce members a chance to briefly get their minds off work and “recharge”, then go back to work feeling refreshed and focused.
The Civilian Health Promotion and Fitness Program enrollment campaign promotes the opportunity for civilian employees to use up to three work hours per week to focus on fitness with a supervisor’s permission.
This is a highlight of some of the programs ASC offers its Civilians and Soldiers – all of them focused on keeping everyone active, engaged, and performing at a level that is necessary for the well-being of the Soldiers we support. These efforts are crucial if ASC is to bring in, train and retain a quality workforce.