Connect with Your Co-Workers on Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day (March 5, 2021) reminds us to connect with and recognize the awesome people we work with every day. After a full year of remote work and social distancing, it’s no surprise many of us are feeling more disconnected than ever. According to Employee Benefit News, “While COVID-19 has exacerbated the effects of isolation on employees, loneliness in the workplace has been a growing problem. A pre-pandemic survey by Cigna found that more than 60% of employees were lonely at work.” If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone and that there are small steps you can take to feel more connected.

While adding one more task to your to-do list may feel impossible, taking time to connect with or recognize your co-workers can improve your well-being tremendously. These interactions don’t have to be elaborate; a virtual chat over morning coffee with a few co-workers can do wonders for your mental health. And there’s no need to wait for a supervisor to initiate these activities. Reach out, connect and recognize your co-workers in a way and at a time that works for you.

Need some ideas to get started? Here are some ways to connect with and recognize your coworkers both one-on-one and all together:

  1. Take a virtual workout class together. Do you miss that afternoon walk or evening workout class with your co-worker? MSU Recreational Sports and Fitness Services offers virtual group classes over Zoom and Fitness On Demand, which gives you over 1,000 classes to choose from. Additionally, benefit-eligible employees have access to MSU Benefits Plus, which allows you to explore Global Fit’s growing library of free virtual classes and resources. Login to MSU Benefits Plus, click on Discount Shopping in the top navigation then type “Global Fit” in the search box to find a link to the digital resource library.
  2. Join or set-up an online coffee break to chat and check-in. Are there people you used to regularly talk with in-person that you now only communicate with via email? A regular coffee break just to check in could be an easy way to connect, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
  3. Engage new team members. If your team has new employees, they’ve probably never seen their co-workers face-to-face. And without those unstructured points of connection between team members — coffee breaks, walking to a meeting together, etc. — it can be hard to connect with others on topics outside of work-related matters. Why not try some virtual icebreakers to help everyone get to know each other? While “icebreakers” can sound a bit cheesy, the conversations that result can be great for helping people feel more connected. MSU Extension has a list of 65 icebreaker questions for online meetings to help. Here in HR, we have a Get to Know Your HR Colleagues questionnaire that people have the option to fill out, and then we share their answers in our internal newsletter.
  4. Learn something new as a team. Ask your supervisor or manager about setting up a training program for your whole team or unit to participate in together. We suggest you check out MSU Health4U’s new Virtual Health and Well-Being Sampler Series, which is offered to units and departments. Participating units will have a chance to map out a custom, six-week course series with classes about emotional wellness, food and nutrition, and movement and fitness.
  5. Team-led virtual lunch and learn sessions. Do you have co-workers with extensive knowledge on a specific topic or a cool hobby? Ask a team member to share what they know or give a demonstration during a lunch break.
  6. Play a virtual game. There are a variety of games your team can play virtually for some lighthearted fun. From collaborative online games to virtual scavenger hunts, google “online games for remote teams” and see which ones would work best for you and your co-workers.
  7. Step away from your computer and take a break outside. Spring is right around the corner and soon it will be nice enough to take a stroll outside in the sunshine. Check-in with a co-worker on the phone while you take a quick walk or sit outside.
  8. Send a shout-out to your co-worker to recognize all the great work they do. You could email them directly, give them kudos in your department newsletter, or send a Spartan Shout-Out to the InsideMSU newsletter that goes to all MSU employees (email kudos to
  9. Mail a Thank You Note or Token of Appreciation: during one the busiest times of the year here in HR, my supervisor mailed me a bag of coffee from a shop local to her as a token of appreciation. The gesture was so kind and unexpected, it improved my mood immensely and instantly made me feel more connected to the team. While you may not be able to send your coworkers gifts, a hand-written note or postcard letting them know you’re grateful for them can be a great way to recognize their contributions.

Feel free to think outside the box and come up with ideas that better suit you and your coworkers’ personalities. Taking time to connect with and recognize your co-workers — no matter how brief — can do wonders to improve your well-being and team morale overall. As a reminder, if you’re struggling with your mental health and need to talk to a professional, be sure to utilize your employee mental health resources.


Place, A., & Nedlund, E. (2020, December 7). WFH loneliness is the latest virtual challenge for employers. Employee Benefit News.

MSU Celebrates 2020 Award Winners!

The University acknowledges and expresses its gratitude for both long-term support staff and support staff going “above and beyond” in their job performance. Each year, the University recognizes these individuals through the MSU Retirement and Service Recognition, Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards, and Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award.

MSU Retirement and Service Recognition

The MSU Retirement and Service Recognition recognizes support staff employees celebrating long-term service work anniversaries of 15+ years, as well as employees who have recently retired within the last fiscal year. This year we recognize 573 employees celebrating a long-term work anniversary and 188 employees retiring from the University. Thank you for your years of dedicated service to MSU! Click here to view a full list of those celebrating this year.

Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards

The Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards honors six University support staff members annually. These individuals are nominated by their colleagues as demonstrating the qualities of Jack Breslin, who served MSU as a student leader, honored athlete, top administrator and steadfast advocate, personifying the “Spartan Spirit.” Award honorees display overall excellence in job performance, supportive attitude and contributions to their unit and the University. This year’s awardees are:

Shannon Davis

Davis is an Administrative Associate in the Dean’s Office in the College of Social Science. She manages all aspects of the college’s Human Resources operations. Davis’ colleagues had this to say about her: 

“Shannon [is] one of [the College of Social Science]’s shining stars and the work product she provides is exceptional. Shannon is more than willing to provide support to anyone on our team and does so with a positive and collegial attitude.” 

“Those of us in the College of Social Science continue to be amazed at the consistent, appropriate and accurate work-product that Shannon provides. Even though she has a tremendously busy life outside of MSU, she seems to be able to adequately compartmentalize, and while at work, gives more than 110% to the College of Social Science. She does us all proud, and we are truly fortunate to have her.”

Theresa (Terry) Edwards

Edwards is a Secretary III in the Department of Teacher Education in the College of Education. She provides direct support to the Department Chairperson, as well as support for departmental faculty, staff, students and visitors. Edwards’ colleagues had this to say about her: 

“Terry is an expert on academic triage and in performing her varied routine and ad hoc duties, she is skilled at not only managing her own priorities, but in managing the flood of issues she must field for others, whether the department chair or the myriad faculty and students that come to her for assistance or referral. We perform very well, in large part, due to Terry’s excellence.” 

“We truly believe Terry deserves this honor. In particular, at this challenging moment in MSU’s history, we believe it’s important to recognize community members who go out of their way to build relationships, make others feel safe and valued, and create workspaces that are humanizing as well as productive.” 

Todd Wilson

Wilson is a Planner/Inspector/Analyst II in Planning, Design and Construction for Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. He manages capital construction projects for MSU and serves as the University’s liaison. Wilson’s colleagues had this to say about him: 

“One of Todd’s real joys about working at MSU is his ability to construct learning environments that forward the mission of MSU and offer spectacular facilities for faculty and students.” 

“Spartans Will (or…Spartans Wil-son in this case)!”

Robert (Bob) Patterson

Patterson is the Chief Financial Officer for Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS). He is responsible for the financial budgeting, financial management and overall viability of the financial success of all departments which make up RHS. Patterson’s colleagues had this to say about him: 

“Bob is a tireless advocate for students. For their overall experience and for the stewarding of resources that impact that experience.”

“I have never seen anyone so great at relating to people of all walks of life as Bob does. Bob tries to find common ground with everyone he meets.”

Maggie Chen-Hernandez

Chen-Hernandez is Student Services Coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transition. She is responsible for assessing and developing curriculum for the Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience and Intercultural Aide Program, developing diversity, equity and inclusion training, and collaborating with academic affairs, faculty and students to implement student retention initiatives, among others. Chen-Hernandez’s colleagues had this to say about her: 

“In her close to 30 years of service, Maggie Chen-Hernandez has always and continues to go above and beyond what is expected of her because she deeply cares about the students she serves and wants them to feel a sense of belonging, and wants them to be successful both academically and socially.”

“Ms. Chen-Hernandez has made a great impact during her distinguished career at Michigan State University. The campus is a more inviting and inclusive community for students and staff due to her presence and service.”

Cindy Baswell

Baswell is the Bakery Manager for MSU Bakers. She is responsible for all aspects and operations of the unit. Baswell and her staff are responsible for almost all the fresh baked goods served on campus. Her colleagues had this to say about her: 

“Cindy truly cares about everything she does and puts the best interests of our students, guests and University as a whole in the forefront of her work.”

“Through her work at the bakery, Cindy has touched the lives of countless individuals; those with whom she works, student customers and other customers, and so many people throughout the community. Cindy leads her team to excellence in all they do, creating a culture of creativity, compassion, generosity, and strong ethics.”

Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award

This annual award recognizes a support staff member who most closely exemplifies the contributions, personal characteristics, and commitment to MSU demonstrated by Ms. Ruth Jameyson, going “above and beyond” what is reasonably expected in supporting the mission of MSU. In recognition of Ms. Jameyson’s own pursuit of a graduate degree while working at MSU, the award recipient must be pursuing a graduate degree at MSU or elsewhere concurrent with their employment at MSU.

This year’s recipient is Michelle Gunn Van Deuren. She is a Research Assistant II in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Gunn Van Deuren is pursuing a graduate degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Disease Ecology and Conservation Medicine from MSU. Her colleagues had this to say about her:

“She is a very intelligent young lady, who is extremely creative in getting each task of her job done efficiently. In order to maximize time efficiency, she took courses to learn complicated software for bookkeeping, accounting and visual arts and mastered them.”

“Ms. Van Deuren unequivocally is the hands down, standalone, single best embodiment of “Above and Beyond”. Truly, as I became aware of this award and was reading about Ms. Jameyson, I swore the authors were writing and describing Michelle herself. Professionalism, Michelle. Loyalty, Michelle. Kindness, Michelle! Strength, patience, ambassador, Michelle! Never daunted by workload, whether piles or mountains, and being uncannily stalwart, Michelle is a tremendous asset to my growing program.”

The University would like to congratulate all award winners once again for all of their outstanding work. MSU would be nowhere near where it is today without the help of our dedicated employees. During this time, we invite the colleagues of these award recipients to extend their congratulations and appreciation to these individuals so they may receive the recognition and thanks they so greatly deserve.

Thank You Landscape Services

They’re the front line battling all kinds of weather on MSU’s East Lansing campus – clearing off roads so students and employees can move around campus, salting sidewalks, setting up flood barriers and soon, getting MSU ready for a picture-perfect spring. They’re the team members that make up the Department of Landscape Services.

But have you ever wondered what it takes to battle the elements or to keep the campus looking its best? Landscape Services crews are made up of arborists, gardeners, mechanics, irrigation, and many more. And the department went to great lengths to engage its team in their own development to grow and build skills in each of these fields.

arborist def.jpg

Recently, MSU Human Resources had the chance to work with Human Resources staff at Infrastructure Planning and Facilities to really dive into the different job types at Landscape Services. This eventually led to what Landscape Services calls its Career Map Wall. This wall shows a breakdown of the different job types in Landscape Services and what an individual would need to acquire to build a career. Check out the following video to see the wall and hear more from Director of Campus

Why is this Career Map Wall and the concept behind it so valuable to Landscape Services? According to Lawver, “The vision behind the Career Map Wall was to provide our workforce with transparency and clarity around what knowledge, skills, and abilities were required to advance one’s career at Landscape Services. Most employees want to know how they fit into the big picture and what specifically they need to do to advance in their career. The Career Map Wall leverages the MSU mission and focuses inward on our workforce to support and build each other.”second quote landscape

Thanks to Landscape Services for all your engagement with your work to keep campus ready and looking great in every season!

Thank You MSU Libraries!

The MSU Libraries have something for everyone – staff, faculty and students! There are tons of resources that you may not know about, and they’re constantly adding new additions.

MSU Main Library

Traveling out of the country soon? The library offers passport photos and other passport services in Hollander MakeCentral, located on the second floor of the West Wing. This resource also includes 3D printing and an Espresso Book Machine that can create a full paperback book in 15 minutes!

Are you a history buff? The Special Collections Library is home to books made before 1800. There is also the MSU’s extensive comic book collection which is the largest in the world! There are house works from the personal library of former MSU President Theophilus Abbot. A new Reading Room and service area on the first floor were recently added where you can spend a lunch period checking out these special items.

The library also holds events, seminars and workshops on a range of different subjects including their Coffee Break Series, a Zotero Workshop and a scholar-led book discussion. There are also programs and books covering over 70 languages. Fun Fact: the 4th floor in the west wing is home to video game labs that can be reserved for research or recreational use.

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MSU Library Video Game Room

Looking for a book or other library material that MSU does not have? They can have it shipped from another library within their network and have it available for you to pick up. In addition, the library website has an entire list of faculty services including things like D2L Help, Distance Learning Services, and articles on how to place materials on reserve. Thank you MSU Libraries for all of your help and efforts to make countless resources available to everyone!

Thank You MSU Police!

After a long and successful semester, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the MSU Police Department for all that they do to keep our campus safe. The MSU Police work year-round to reduce crime, enforce laws, preserve peace, and provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff to thrive.

The mission of the MSU Police is to enhance the quality of life on campus by building relationships, strengthening stewardship, and working collaboratively with MSU’s diverse community. They deliver on all fronts, and we are very appreciative of all their hard work.

Know of someone who would make a great addition to this team? The department is currently hiring and more positions will be opening in 2018. Check the Careers website for updated postings and information periodically.

Thank you MSU Police for everything you do for the campus community!

MSU Police

Thank You, Culinary Services!

Thank you Culinary Services for providing outstanding food and service to our campus! Our executive chefs and their staff make every meal flow smoothly.

Culinary Services team members at Landon Bistro.

This year, Culinary has worked endlessly to provide these services to campus and do so much more. They have introduced fresh options concessions at the Breslin Center, brought back Try Us Tuesdays, moved into 1855 Place and supported Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the MSU Bakers Tradition of Gwens Bagels. They keep each hall’s menus up-to-date, and host events year round, such as Clean Plates at State.

Interested in joining this dynamic team? Check out their career opportunities for students and non-students.

Once again, Thank you MSU Culinary Services!

Thank You University Physician!

When you’re trying to balance work, personal life and everything in between, staying healthy can be difficult. That’s where the Office of the University Physician comes in!

The Office of the University Physician oversees areas at MSU where there is a requirement or need for specific programs that will impact the health and safety of the people who work, learn and live at MSU.

  • The Travel Clinic provides safer travel by utilizing their national and international travel expertise to recommend vaccines and preventative medications. They provide resources, articles and other informative pieces to keep you and your family stay healthy while traveling.
  • The Occupational Health program provides detailed information on what to do when you come into contact with animals, blood borne pathogens, as well as information on noise, CDL drivers and physical intensity of some jobs and workplace hazards.
  • Health4U provides coaching and counseling services, food and nutrition guidance, emotional wellness support and physical activities to keep your body in top shape.
  • The Food and Water Sanitarian program coordinates and participates in the education of university employees to maintain high sanitation standards.
  • The Employee Assistance Program is available as a confidential counseling service provided at no cost to MSU faculty, staff, retires, graduate student employees and their families. Some concerns they can assist with include work related stress, anxiety, depression, relationship challenges and grief or loss.

Thank you, University Physician’s Office for all the hard work and programming you have organized to make MSU a wonderful place to live, learn and work!

Univ Phys

Thank You MSU IT!

MSU IT works tirelessly day-in and day-out to guarantee that all of our technology runs smoothly across campus. Without these individuals, we would all be lost!

MSU IT has implemented the Bolder IT program, working off of Bolder By Design . The aim is to fundamentally change the way our community is thinking about technology to address campus demand and expectations from students, faculty, researchers and staff.

To do so they work within 3 bubbles: Strengthen, Align and Innovate. MSU IT is constantly working to reduce risk, eliminate outages, improve customer service and accommodate stakeholder’s needs. They establish enterprise architecture, improve collaboration, create common priorities and use strategic sourcing. Finally, they increase data sharing, focus on mobile, provide ubiquitous Wi-Fi and offer a seamless user experience.


Follow MSU IT on Twitter @TechAtMSU for updates on the technical community and what the department is up to! You can also sign up for their newsletter.

Thank You, MSU Human Resources Staff!

This month we’d like to thank our staff here at MSU Human Resources! With recent project launches like Agile Recruiting and Onboarding (ARO) and ALEX – the virtual benefits counselor, along with thousands of customer interactions and transactions, we had a busy 2016-17 academic year.

HR Staff Picnic
We recently held a staff picnic to recognize 2016-17 achievements.

To share a few numbers, our Solutions Team had 7,945 walk-in customers, answered 51,743 phone calls and received 40,000 emails last year. We closed 121,095 EBS form transactions. We had 747 support staff attend new employee orientation and 4,212 participants attend a professional development class.

Both our projects and operational work are critical to being a high-performing human resources organization. And the work we do supports the MSU community as they deliver on their student success and faculty research priorities. As the 2017-18 academic year begins, our MSU HR team members look forward to assisting faculty, staff, students, retirees and visitors.

So, thanks to our staff for supporting the university and thanks to the MSU community for allowing us to serve you!


Thank You MSU Bikes!

Michigan State has an extremely large campus, so the solution many people turn to in order to get where they need to be is a bicycle. Everywhere you look, you’ll see people riding their bikes to get to work or class. If you’ve ridden a bike on campus yourself, you know it’s one of the fastest ways to get around.


As all bicyclists know, there will inevitably come a time when something needs to be fixed. Luckily, MSU Bikes is available and provides resources for all things bike related!

The mission of MSU Bikes is to “encourage bicycling and provide the accessibility, support and education necessary to make bicycling an option for the MSU Community.” And they definitely deliver! They provide bike sales, rentals and repairs to members of the MSU community while also offering classes on bike repair and safety.

MSU Bikes is located under Bessey Hall on the Red Cedar River, and they are open year round Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (except on university holidays). For more information, visit the MSU Bikes website.

Thank you MSU Bikes for all that you do!