Time Off, With Pay, to Walk and Smell the Flowers? Readers Like the Idea

OPM recently encouraged employees to take an hour of administrative leave by walking from the office to view the area’s cherry blossoms. Is this a good idea? Our readers chime in with a variety of strong opinions.

We recently published an article entitled Time Off to Smell the Flowers. The gist of the article was that OPM director John Berry issued a memo telling OPM employees in Washington, DC to, in effect, take time to smell the flowers by walking to the tidal basin in Washington, DC "to view the cherry blossoms and start or continue a fit and healthy lifestyle."

We asked readers if this was a good idea and whether it should be emulated by other agencies. The question was posed this way: "OPM is encouraging agency employees to request an hour of administrative leave ‘to view the cherry blossoms and start or continue a fit and healthy lifestyle.’ Should other federal agencies emulate this policy?"

Most readers who participated in the survey think it is a good idea. 53.6% answered "yes" while 44% said "no." 2.4% were undecided.

It is not great surprise that readers had strong views on the issue. Many readers who do not work in the Washington area were irritated that it only applies to employees in DC. Many readers thought it was a waste of taxpayer’s money. Obviously, a number of readers liked the idea even though most of the comments were more negative. Some readers went off in a completely different direction.

Here is a sample of the comments received:

  • I don’t live in DC but it sounds like a great idea to me. I little break in the monotony can really improve productivity.
  • That’s what flexible schedules are for. We really need to be responsible for ourselves.
  • Could policies like this have something to do with why the public holds Feds in such disrepute?
  • That’s what flexible schedules are for. We really need to be responsible for ourselves.
  • At this time with the economy being so bad I feel no leave should be given. And if leave is given it should go out to ALL federal employees……we ALL would like to smell the flowers too and get into a fit and healthy lifestyle!
  • Are these the same employees that got a week of administrative time off during the blizzard. We in the Midwest had a three day Christmas blizzard and worked through it. I’m all for an hour of administrative leave for EVERYONE.
  • Particularly since John Berry is an Openly Gay Man, all this publicity about time off to tip toe through the tulips is going to lead to more stereotyping and make things worse for the Gay Rights Movement. I wonder if he knows how much harm he is doing to others.
  • Probably why I haven’t been able to reach them….grrrr.
  • All federal workers should be given the same amount of adm leave to enjoy the blossoms of spring in their own home town. Why just OPM in Washington, DC?
  • In light of encouraging people to become healthier, I would say this is an incentive.
  • This story appeared the same day that the Army said they were closing down MWR facilities in Afganistan for our troops. Maybe the OPMers would like a tour there to see what real federal workers experience in the service of our country.
  • This a very good idea, but will the supervisors of the other agencies do so, no. They want you at your desk.
  • Are you kidding me?? This is not an appropriate use of administrative leave. There is personal time, lunch and break periods, weekends, and after work time that can be spent. Do what the rest of us do, and take full advantage of your off-duty periods to enjoy nature. This is a good example of why federal employees get a bad rap.
  • If you’re going to extend the hour of administrative leave to one branch, why not all?! Are the DC area employees the only ones that should be encouraged to start or continue a fit and healthy lifestyle and be rewarded for doing it? I’m sick of seeing employees in the DC area receiving special perks that are not afforded to all of the other federal agencies.
  • Why the DC area only should be all Gov, Agencies but should be on there on leave.
  • Why should the taxpayers pay federal employees to go view the cherry blossoms when they can go on their own time?? It sends a very bad message in today’s economy to pay federal workers to go "smell the flowers"… Really?!? That is one of the most asinine ideas I have seen come out of OPM!!
  • The public should be outraged! Just who in the heck (clean version) is running the Executive Branch of the Federal government? They obviously are not thinking and don’t give a darn (clean version) about the unemployed or the common citizen taxpayer. Part of the Federal employees benefit package is annual leave, which they earned at the rate of four, six or eight hours per pay period depending on their years of service.
  • This is crazy – Admin leave to smell the flowers? What’s next?
  • Administrative leave is fiscally irresponsible when millions of American are without work. Encourage use of annual leave.
  • If OPM wants to waste government money on allowing admin leave "to view the cherry blossoms" for D.C. employees, then other parts of the country should be able to "view" whatever is blossoming in their states. I would like admin leave to view the mountain laurels in my state!

Our thanks to all readers who took the time to respond and a special thanks to those who took the time to expand on their views by sending in a comment.