The blend of work and life hit the spotlight this year displaying issues, concerns, imbalances and injustices, while also creating conversation spaces to discuss individual needs in the shifting landscape of work. The WorkLife Office focuses on five main areas; family, workplace assistance/wellness, career, campus/community connections, and relocation. Over the past year, our goal was to help support faculty and staff who:
- Worked remotely
- Returned to campus
- Didn’t return to work through furlough, layoff or job changes
The WorkLife Office quickly launched programs into virtual formats and listened to those who reached out for support. Monitoring comments on social media platforms and other public spaces played a key role to help define needs and gap areas where we were well suited to champion.
| “The WorkLife Office allowed me to feel seen and included when I was very isolated. Your work really matters and you use such care as you hold us all up. Thank you.” -Staff |
Table of Contents
The WorkLife Office continued to serve the larger MSU community and beyond through collaborative efforts on committees and workgroups.
The College and University Work and Family Association (CUWFA) provides leadership in facilitating the integration of work and study with family/personal life at institutions of higher learning. Its mission supports the broader goals of creating a healthy and productive environment throughout the lifespan and enhancing the work-life effectiveness of employees. Jaimie Hutchison is the co-chair of the CUWFA Member Engagement Committee and a Board of Directors Member at Large. WorkLife Office staff participate in CUWFA conversations monthly, discussing with other CUWFA members a range of work-life topics including childcare, flexwork, eldercare, remote work, workplace wellness, equity, best practices, and work-life fit. These conversations are an opportunity to connect with other work-life professionals, share and learn best practices, and discuss current events in the work-life world. The MSU WorkLife Office was among 262 attendees at 10 conversations within the past year.
The Director of the Michigan Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), Maranda Holtsclaw, is housed in the WorkLife Office at MSU. Under her leadership five new member institutions have joined since January 2021. Maranda is a member of three National HERC committees, including the Dual Career, Membership and Job Seeker Committees. Along with committee involvement, the Michigan HERC Director plans regional events. The first meeting held in October 2020 titled, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategies for Virtual Recruitment & Interviewing,” had 207 participants. The spring 2021 meeting held in April was well attended with 233 participants with a focus on “RETURNING TO CAMPUS: Decision Making, Accommodations & Recruitment in a COVID-19 World.”
Making an Impact at MSU
The WorkLife Office was proud to participate, lead and even initiate different committees and coalitions on campus over the past year. We focused on building relationships with leadership, administrators and departments toward a shared vision of improving workplace culture, diversity, and well-being of the MSU community through these initiatives:
- Remote Work Initiative (Return to Campus Task Force subcommittees)
- University Committee on Workplace Bullying
- JED Redesign Committee
- Wellbeing Coalition
- Positive Workplace Alliance
- IDEA Coordinators
Students (MSW, BA, and MA ) are incredible contributors to the WorkLife team. This fiscal year we were proud to provide eight internships and student experiences which made substantial contributions to faculty, staff, and administrators by way of their work with the office.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The MSU WorkLife Office values DEI work and is engaged internally and externally through a commitment to continued learning. In response to the increased visibility of diversity issues and the need for education and awareness, the office participated and contributed through these important causes:
- International Photovoice Project
MSU faculty and staff members shared their experiences of transitioning to the United States from their international home. Through a written story and a meaningful photograph, they described their experiences navigating new systems, embracing new traditions, the feeling of living in two different worlds, and finding a sense of belonging in their new home at Michigan State University. There 29 attendees who participated in this project.
- MSU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Planning Committee:
Annually, a representative from the WorkLife Office attends and assists in planning some of the many MLK celebration events that are held on campus. This year the office headed up the MLK Book Drive called “The Stuff the Library” event which aimed to fill libraries in local schools with books surrounding issues of social justice and with characters representing diverse backgrounds. This event was in celebration of the legacies of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Honorable John Lewis. Participation from the MSU and local communities surpassed the goal of $2,500 to raise $4,331 with 294 books donated, and 52 local schools participating.
- Women’s History Month 2021 Planning Committee:
The WorkLife Office collaborated alongside other units on campus to plan 18 events intended to unite womxn, racially diverse people, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and others from across campus. This effort included two Women’s Networking Association Event sessions.
- Institutional Diversity, Excellence and Action (IDEA) Coordinators:
A representative from the WorkLife Office team participates with the Core Team. The IDEA Coordinators leadership team and committee contribute to strengthening our campus’ welcoming and inclusive atmosphere surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Women of Color Community (WOCC):
The office continues to collaborate with WOCC on many things including WNA. A representative from the WorkLife Office participated in WOCC meetings for much of the past academic year.
- White Anti-Racist Affinity Group:
The WorkLife Office has a representative for continued learning and promoting being an anti-racist on campus.
- MSU Veteran Faculty and Staff Outreach Committee:
This committee serves to build a strong Veteran community on campus. A representative from the WorkLife Office helps to connect military faculty and staff with resources.
Using the established calendar of events and webinar process, the WorkLife Office coordinated a series of DEI programming that resulted in 15 webinars with 340 total attendees. Topics focused on: anti-racism, multicultural families, international community, LGBTQIA+, and religious diversity. Where possible members of the group or experts on the topic presented at the sessions.
Members of the WorkLife Office team pursued individual DEI learning opportunities such as online sessions, through readings, videos, conversations, workshops, podcasts, and more which were then shared in staff meetings for all full-time, part-time, and student staff members to hear. This broadened the knowledge base, expanded the scope of the DEI topic, and provided an opportunity for conversation among the WorkLife Office team. We continue to be committed to supporting the broad range of MSU community identities.
Family has a broad definition and has always been a core focus area for the WorkLife Office. This year we continued to make strides toward supporting a variety of family types during a very tumultuous time. Many of the new initiatives surfaced from individual consultations and messages to the office were quickly defined as needs for the larger MSU community.
Out of all of the inquiries coming into the office this fiscal year, 25% were related to family care. This is the third highest requested topic. People across the MSU community reached out to the WorkLife Office for support including; 1,498 consultations, referrals, and webinar attendees on family related topics.
| “I just wanted to thank you again for taking time to discuss our child's case... Discussing this with you was a big help and a relief to have guidance through this. Otherwise, it is usually difficult to find a resource like yourself.” -Post doc and post doc spouse |
Caregivers at MSU tend to fall in two categories – those caring for children and those caring for adults with some crossover of people who are responsible for both. The weight on caregivers this year intensified. As a result of the need to feel connected to others in the struggle, the WorkLife Office helped establish two affinity groups: the Family Affinity Group, for those caring for children between the ages of 0-18, and the Adult Caregivers Affinity Group, for caregivers caring for others over the age of 18. Together there were 17 facilitated discussions and educational sessions throughout the year, some that were topic-focused and others that were conversations to allow people the opportunity to discuss common concerns. There were a total of 13 Family Affinity Group sessions and 5 Adult Caregiving Affinity Group sessions.
| “I wanted to reach out and let you know how the adult caregivers affinity group has helped me. The sessions on grief and self-care were really impactful. Deep down I knew these things on some level, but discussing them openly gave me a wakeup call. I made a doctors appointments for myself and asked my sibling for help with our parents. I will take better care of myself as I work to help them. Thank you for the real talk. I needed it.” |
The childcare crisis has been a topic that rose to a national conversation this past year. Faculty, staff, and administrators were impacted in a variety of ways with the change in work, home, and schooling. The WorkLife Office responded to the outcry for help by developing childcare recommendations and documents to build support at home. As a result, the following pieces were created:
- Unraveling the Childcare Crisis
- Parenting Returning to Work
- Quaranteam Guide (support families in creating learning pods)
| “No matter how many times one has to attend to such family needs it is always “new”, so to have a calm voice in the storm is exactly what is needed. Thank you so much for your kind and helpful assistance this morning.” -Tenure track faculty |
Career support, training, and networking is a key aspect of retention for faculty, staff, and administrators. Of all inquiries coming into the office this year, 8% were related to career. This took the form of 479 consultations, referrals, and webinar attendees on career related topics.
The WorkLife Office team expanded career consulting with the assistance and guidance of the HERC Regional Director. Offerings were enhanced through existing external partners’ career resources such as CUWFA, HERC, and TIAA. The office also participated with HERC and AHR in a Dual Hire Committee, which coordinates resources and information for dual hires of new employees.
The mission of the Women’s Networking Association (WNA) is to connect professional women across campus through meaningful and empowering relationships. Providing an opportunity for women to network and support one another is an essential step for building women’s leadership at Michigan State University and in the Greater Lansing community. The WorkLife Office is proud to contribute to this mission yearly with 12 sessions and 520 attendees to virtual meetings over the past year.
The MSU community faced the challenge of furlough and layoffs this year. The WorkLife Office responded to community needs with resources and support including by updating the employee furlough and layoff webpage and providing a panel discussion on the topic.
The rapidly changing and unknown world of work lead to 2,038 consultations, referrals, and webinar attendees on workplace related topics this fiscal year – that’s 34% of all inquiries coming into the office, which is the highest requested topic. Website analytics are just as reflective of the need for information and resources. The flexwork page was the highest viewed and used page on the entire WorkLife Office website with 19,293 total hits for 20-21FY and 16,240 unique hits for 20-21FY.
MSU as a Workplace
The WorkLife Office extended the service beyond individual assistance and co-chaired the University Council’s Workplace Bullying Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee on Workplace Bullying’s charge was to develop a definition of workplace bullying, develop a workplace bullying policy applicable to all present in work environments at the university, and determine how such a policy would fit in with existing grievance structures.
The Towards a Respectful Workplace website is a resource on bullying that launched this past year as part of an ongoing grant and direction of the WorkLife Office. The site houses the Pledge to Care in support of individual situations in response to COVID-19 work requirements
The Well-being at Work Guide is an extensive compilation of research and information to assist individuals and teams with workplace wellbeing. The guide launched with a presentation by Jaimie Hutchison and Megan Lee who worked diligently on the project. The session had 187 attendees representing MSU and an additional 50 institutions. The Well-being at Work Guide resides on the Toward a Respectful Workplace site and reached over 200 people in its first month.
| “The hard work you and the whole team put into this resource is so evident, and I continue to be so impressed with the way you gently and consistently remind our whole community that these issues are not “bonus” issues but key to our productivity, financial viability, and mental health.” |
Education and Connection
Community education webinars and presentations saw a large increase this year. The virtual format eased the time commitment for attendees who didn’t have to travel to attend. There were also more attendees and a wider array of topics based on the needs of the MSU community, which had 1,529 participants at 52 sessions over the past year. Popular topics included: COVID-19 and Remote Work, Taking Care of Yourself in Times of Uncertainty, Burnout, About the WorkLife Office, and hosted information on working through the pandemic. There were eight webinars that were hosted throughout the year.
The Reflect & Connect sessions are collaborated with MSU EAP, MSU H4U, MSU Graduate Student Wellness, MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, and others. They occur as needed in response to local and national situations that cause concern and distress. This series provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, and graduate students to come together to examine personal and professional impacts of national and global events/tragedies and provides a space to explore best self-care/work-effectiveness strategies. This year there were three sessions which provided 78 participants the opportunity to engage and discuss.
The Outstanding Supervisor Awards honor Michigan State University supervisors who have consistently demonstrated work-life sensitivity and support of the professional/personal needs of the employees in their unit. A panel discussion with several past Outstanding Supervisor Winners has been highly viewed. The webinar replay video had 3,750 total hits for 20-21FY of which, 3,283 were unique hits for 20-21FY.
Work-life and workplace conversations continue to evolve as quickly as the world of work, especially amid a pandemic. The WorkLife Office team continues to stay informed through a variety of channels including forging specific research projects, many of which were launched last year and listed in the workplace section of this report.
In addition, the WorkLife Office’s annual conference, held in October each year to celebrate the national work and family month, focused on a topic from a recent research project. The Toward a Respectful Workplace Annual Conference moved to an online format for the first time this year and saw outstanding success and increased participation with 346 attendees across the three breakout sessions that followed the keynote presentation. The result of this conference was the reassurance that there was indeed more support needed to improve workplace culture across campus.
The WorkLife Office team is committed to ongoing exploration of best practices in the field, research review, and dissemination to the MSU community.
Isolation was one of the biggest struggles for individuals over the past year. The impact of isolation on mental and emotional health is significant. This can cause issues with productivity, family relationships, and lead to depression and anxiety. For people who were starting a new role the effects were even more dramatic. The WorkLife Office has been compassionate to new people starting with the university. This year that outreach took on a larger scope than before.
In the past year 1,918 people contacted the WorkLife Office for consultations, referrals, or attended a on community related topics. That is 32% of all inquiries coming into the office this fiscal year related to community, making community the second most requested topic.
Through the “New at MSU” program the WorkLife Office reached out to all incoming new hires through an email campaign. We also increased contact with interviewees, new employees, and people needing community resources by acclimating newcomers to MSU and the local community, through referrals to campus, and by sharing external community resources.
| “You made my transition to MSU really easy. Thank you for being responsive, available and full of information that helped me and my whole family make MSU our home.” -Faculty |
| “The Chair contacted me last week regarding a job offer. I was able to negotiate a salary that was within my desired range. I will begin working at MSU soon. Thank you for your transparency and follow up from our session. This was the only place I interviewed that prioritized the whole family and a time to ask “life” questions. It made a difference.” |
Our resource lists are used widely across campus and are great for newcomers and long-time Spartans alike. These lists are where other Spartans refer businesses and services such as realtors, doctors, dentists, contractors, pet sitters, and more. There are 60+ resource lists created and/or updated this fiscal year.
| “The number and quality of the resources coming out of the work life office is amazing. Our director and chair forwarded the childcare resources email today. The attachments are comprehensive and compelling” |
AgeAlive is an established program within Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine. We seek to leverage and expand MSU's assets related to aging, including research, education, training, service, and outreach spanning all disciplines across all MSU units, and have successfully met the criteria to designate MSU as an Age Friendly University. AgeAlive envisions a world in which there is respect, wellbeing, and quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. Dr. Clare Luz serves as the founding Director with the support of the AgeAlive Leadership Council comprised of representatives from MSU and the Greater Lansing community. Despite the COVID19 pandemic Dr. Luz and the AgeAlive Leadership Council were able to accomplish the following initiatives during 2020-2021.
- AgeAlive Research Forum
- The Annual Awards Ceremony
- 2021 Butterfly Garden Exhibit was showcased in the main Headquarters lobby of the MSUFCU
- Senior Ambassadors Program (SAP)
- “Town and Gown”
- Advocating for LifeLong Enrichment
AgeAlive was also awarded several grants. View the full AgeAlive annual report.
The WorkLife Office has developed key partnerships over the years to enhance information provided to the community. These partnerships include: Michigan Breastfeeding Networking, CEI Community Mental Health, MSU Extension, MSU IPF, MSU Student Parent Resource Center, MSU EAP, Tri-County Office on Aging, MSU AHR, TIAA, WACSS, and various other units and departments across campus.
Target Messages through Listserve Audiences
Over the past year the WorkLife Office team revised listserv resources to better connect people. Listerves are a great way to send information about a particular topic to the interested audience. It also provides opportunities for members of the listserv to share relevant information or ask questions of the rest of the group. The lists include:
- Family with 1,646 following the listserv
- International with 54 following the listserv
“The kindness that [the International Newcomer Program mentors] have shown towards us... makes us feel good about the MSU community as a whole.”
- Resources with 219 following the listserv
- WorkLife Office Programs with 3,151 following the listserv
- WNA with 532 following the listserv
“You are the best sharing stuff like this. There are families that are really benefiting from you sharing the free meals available for kids during the coronavirus-like my family...”
Connection to Conquer Isolation
With new faculty and staff joining the MSU Community in a virtual environment and existing employees feeling the effects of isolation, the WorkLife Office launched the Work and Wellness Connect series. This is a space for Spartans to connect and reduce isolation. The 22 sessions in the series provided a friendly face and the ability for an open conversation around events and the topics that were impacting the individuals attending each session.
| “I love how the Worklife newsletter is so human and personal! It is also educational and reminds me to attend to different areas of my life. Great job! Keep up the good work.” |