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    DCSA Leaders and Team Building Events Inspire Gatekeepers at ‘Leap into Wellness Day’

    DCSA Leaders and Team Building Events Inspire Gatekeepers at ‘Leap into Wellness Day’

    Photo By Christopher Gillis | Nick Daly - enterprise knowledge management analyst at the Defense Counterintelligence...... read more read more

    What do cornhole, line dancing, family feud, treasure hunts, Jenga, nature walks, baby picture guessing, healthy recipe swaps, chats over coffee, golf, and board games have in common?

    The answer involves the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) employees who engaged in those activities or other Leap into Wellness Day team building exercises virtually and in person across the nation to relax, recharge and learn something new related to wellness while getting to know their DCSA colleagues better on Feb. 29.

    "In today's fast-paced and demanding work environment, it's easy to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of tasks, deadlines and responsibilities,” said Salome Smalling, enterprise knowledge management analyst at the DCSA Chief Strategy Office while reflecting on the day’s activities. “We need to reevaluate our approach to work and wellness. The wellness Leap Day event was a great reminder for us to take a step back and practice self-care, which will bring more joy, rest and balance. The benefits of incorporating wellness days extend beyond the individual to the workplace itself. When we practice self-care, it offers a well-balanced environment, provides creativity that flourishes, sharpens problem-solving skills, and builds strong interpersonal relationships, both personal and professional."

    Wellness-related briefings and engagement among DCSA teams and colleagues reflected the agency’s commitment to caring for the well-being of the workforce. Gatekeepers connected with each other in various events, reviewed available wellness resources, and celebrated the achievements of their co-workers who live DCSA’s values.

    “We at DCSA are a people focused and values driven organization – that's who we are,” said DCSA Acting Director Daniel Lecce. “In this era of post-COVID telework and remote work, sometimes we lose important connections. Take the time to connect and take care of each other. What is your character? It’s vitally important to maintain and live your values. Not when people are watching – when people aren't watching. That is your character. Your integrity.”

    The day’s happenings – which included time in the afternoon for local team building activities to enhance interpersonal relationships– supported two objectives in the agency’s Unity of Effort strategic goal:

    • Build an integrated agency that operates holistically as a single enterprise.
    • Sustain a strong culture of innovation, strong partnerships, and inclusivity.

    “I know how difficult it can be to juggle wellness with all the competing demands of work and daily life,” said DCSA Chief of Staff Ellen Ardrey in discussing a positive Gatekeeper experience. “It fosters a sense of wellness and work-life balance, community, camaraderie and trust in fellow Gatekeepers. Wellness is vital to understanding our purpose and unique roles in executing DCSA’s mission.”

    Ardrey assured her audience that DCSA’s inaugural Wellness Day and the various activities won't be the end of the conversation about wellness, camaraderie and a holistic Gatekeeper culture.

    “This is just the starting point of what we hope will continue throughout the year,” she said. “It's going to be an ongoing process to find the best ways to encourage wellness as part of our Gatekeeper culture as we continue our cultural transformation.

    “This journey to build our culture remains the agency's top priority,” she continued. “A positive Gatekeeper experience will look different for everyone and we're seeking to give employees a sense of wellness, a community of trust. That’s a big one – trust, purpose, fairness, optimism and integration – and everything you do with DCSA informs your Gatekeeper experience and influences those around you. It's every minute of your DCSA experience, including the interactions you have with your peers, subordinates and senior leaders every time you go to training or a meeting. It’s the tangibles and a lot of the intangibles - the feelings that you have coming to work and interacting with folks.”

    The intangibles – job satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, workplace optimism, communication, innovation and engagement – are key to Gatekeepers’ psychological wellbeing, motivation, productivity, collaboration and teamwork.

    The two hours of team building activities kicking off Wellness Day were followed by a town hall featuring DCSA leaders and video testimonials by five employees who described their perspectives of Gatekeeper values – mission, people, service, integrity and innovation – in action.

    The employees selected to give Gatekeeper testimonials on living DCSA’s values were among 24 candidates nominated by their supervisors for the opportunity to present a five-minute video address on a specific Gatekeeper value. “These Gatekeeper spotlights are outstanding,” said Lecce. “We chose them to go over our values and what they mean to them personally.”

    In their TED talk-style approach – Luke Baxter, Carol Banks, Annalee Smith, Ashley Dalisera and Sean Lavigne – projected positivity and sincerity while describing how they prioritize their value in their respective Field Operations, National Center for Credibility Assessment, and Program Executive Office workplaces.

    Events throughout the day encouraged healthy lifestyles that enhance the quality of work-life and productivity. Meanwhile, Gatekeepers initiated or renewed friendships and connections with each other.

    “We enjoyed breakfast together where we discussed non-work-related topics and ways we might better improve our understanding of our strengths and interests professionally and personally as we grow as a field office,” said one of 659 employees who provided feedback via an anonymous survey after the day’s events. “This was very encouraging. We also spent an hour playing Topgolf, which built great camaraderie both in our field office, but also with our collocated field office.”

    According to the survey, psychological safety and the agency’s initiatives to improve wellness and work-life balance were favorite Wellness Day discussions. Psychological safety is the single most important characteristic for successful teams and leads to decreased turnover, increasing effectiveness while empowering wellness, according to DCSA Human Capital Management Office (HCMO) leaders, Dr. Dana Sims and Alex Rivera who briefed the agency on Wellness Day.

    They emphasized that psychological safety boosts team performance because employees feel secure enough to share diverse ideas and perspectives, resulting in improved problem-solving and decision-making. They added that it enhances the ability to handle change and uncertainty since the ability to voice concerns and suggestions helps employees navigate change where flexibility and responsiveness are crucial in fast-paced or uncertain environments.

    In relation to psychological safety, Lecce spoke about the five pillars of wellness while emphasizing the importance of family wellness in addition to emotional, physical, spiritual and social wellness.
    “What is wellness,” he asked, answering his question: “It’s body, mind, and spirit. All three are connected.”

    Emotional wellness involves being self-aware and able to handle emotions constructively. Physical wellness can be achieved through proper nutrition, physical activity and flexibility. Spiritual wellness means finding meaning and purpose in life.

    There’s also social wellness which involves maintaining harmonious relationships with others. Family wellness relates to supporting children and support strategies for spouses, partners or parents while maintaining the health and unity of the family.

    “We expect a lot out of our workforce, but you have got to take care of your family,” said Lecce. “All of us regret things that we’ve done because of work. In five years, no one will remember the long days that you're working and the overtime, but your children will remember if you missed their party. They will remember if you missed their gymnastics meet. They will remember if you missed a church event. There is nothing that's too important that you cannot take time for your family, and you need to do that. This is part of that journey I'm talking about when we talk about mindfulness in your spirit. Your family and your friends are directly connected with it, and how important that is to us.”



    Date Taken: 03.27.2024
    Date Posted: 03.27.2024 16:18
    Story ID: 467199
    Location: US

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