Federal Agencies' Stress Management Training Programs

FPCD-81-32: Published: Jan 8, 1981. Publicly Released: Jan 8, 1981.

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GAO reported the results of its evaluation of selected Federal agencies' stress management training programs. The report related specifically to internal training on the subject and how agencies provided training for their employees. Legislative authority, program cost, course content and objectives, employee participation, and the role of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) were discussed. Stress management training was discussed with officials of three agencies.

The training programs are a small, low-cost segment of the total training provided by three of the agencies. One of the agencies interviewed did not provide any training in this area. When offered, stress management training was provided either under agency training or health services programs. The head of the agency had the necessary legislative authority to provide these services. OPM insures that the Federal Government provides an array of personnel services to its employees. In addition, it supports program managers in their personnel management responsibilities. OPM supports educating employees about stress problems and a paper is being developed on stress management. OPM offers a stress management training course and is collecting information on sources of expertise on the subject. OPM states that stress management training has the potential for increasing job performance and productivity. Among the agencies, a variety of methods are used to educate their staff members on stress management. These methods include distribution of printed material, noontime lectures, training modules, and seminars to teach the identification of positive and negative stressors and techniques for constructively revising stress management styles by minimizing the negative effects of stress. Employee participation is voluntary. Contract costs for the seminars range from $300 to $3,000. The cost for other program elements could not be estimated.

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