Taking Care of our People

Date: 12/17/2014 Description: Secretary of State John Kerry and Dikembe Mutombo pose with children of State Department employees who are serving overseas at unaccompanied posts at a reception at the State Department on December 17, 2014. - State Dept Image
Secretary Kerry with children of State and USAID members at the 2014 Holiday Reception

Retaining the best people, staying competitive in today’s dynamic work environment, and increasing the diversity of our staff require us to invest in our employees and ensure they can balance their work and personal lives. This is important for any employer dedicated to retaining top people, but it is particularly critical for State and USAID given the round-the-clock nature of foreign affairs, the increased needs for staffing in dangerous environments, and the significant and unique personal sacrifices our staff and their families often make. We recognize these sacrifices and will provide necessary support for our families before, during and after assignment.

To make flexibility work, it is not only necessary to change our attitude about who is a good worker and who is not, but we have to train managers at all levels to recognize the difference between the number of hours worked and the quality of work produced.”

- Madeleine M. Kunin, Former Ambassador to Switzerland
and Liechtenstein & Governor of Vermont


  • Support those who face the greatest risks. We will make sure that employees and families who serve at dangerous posts—as well as those who face stresses and challenges at any post—receive the best possible support. They deserve this before, during, and after the assignment.
  • Ensure wellness and work-life balance for our people. We are determined to make work-life wellness our cultural norm. We will expect managers to enable their employees to strike a healthy balance between work and their personal lives.
  • Pilot extended leave options for employees to meet educational and family needs. We will pilot a career sabbatical option for Foreign Service and Civil Service employees.
  • Expand opportunities for eligible family members. We will provide eligible family members, many of whom are pursuing their own careers, with greater assistance in locating relevant employment.