MSU Spring Events, Activities and Courses Round-Up

We hope you and your family enjoy this round-up of events, activities and courses around campus.

Outside Activities

  • Get outside and hike the beautiful trails at the Kellogg Biological Station Bird Sanctuary Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. Additionally, check out their calendar of virtual events
  • The W. J. Beal Botanical Garden on campus is an outdoor laboratory for the study and appreciation of plants. If you follow the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden Facebook page, you’ll know that spring flowers have started to blossom. The garden is open for you to walk around and enjoy the plants in a beautiful setting, but please follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and stay safe. 

Art/Performance

  • The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum has a variety of current exhibitions that are free and open to the public with social distancing and enhanced safety measures in place, including daily limited spots available. Please reserve your free tickets here. Additionally, they are offering many interesting, free online events.
  • The Wharton Center is dedicated to sharing the power of the performing arts with the community by offering Wharton at Home activities for both adults and children.

Learning Opportunities

We hope you all will remain safe and healthy and continue to practice social distancing until we are able to see each other on campus again. In the meantime, wear a mask, wash your hands often, and enjoy these campus activities.

Burnout: How to Avoid It and What to do if You’re Experiencing It

Burnout is described as a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. According to the American Psychological Association 2021 trends report, “two-thirds of employees report that poor mental health has undercut their job performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 40% of employees are battling burnout.” While these numbers are disheartening, after a year of balancing the evolving demands of remote work, childcare, social distancing, financial uncertainty, grief and more, they’re certainly not surprising. If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, we want to ensure you’re aware of the resources available to MSU employees that may help. If you’re a supervisor, follow these tips to lead by example and make sure your team is aware of them too.

While symptoms of burnout can vary depending on the severity, some include persistent fatigue, chronic stress, inability to focus, change in eating habits, reduced sleep quality, depression and anxiety. If these symptoms sound familiar or you want to learn more about the signs of burnout, we recommend you watch this 24-minute webinar called How to Recognize and Minimize Burnout presented by Jaimie Hutchison, Deputy Director for the MSU WorkLife Office.

Resources and Tips

As Jaimie states in the webinar mentioned above, “Even if you are not experiencing stress or burnout now, a positive course of action is to proactively take up self-care and build your mental resilience.” Whether you feel like burnout is on the horizon or not, there are actions you can take to improve or avoid symptoms. Take stock of your current habits to see where you could make improvements and don’t forget to use the resources available to you:

  • Utilize employee mental health resources. As an MSU employee, you and your family have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers a confidential virtual counseling service at no cost. MSU Health4U offers a weekly virtual MSU Grief and Loss Support group. You also have access to Teladoc, which allows eligible employees and dependents who are 18+ to schedule a virtual visit with a therapist or psychiatrist. Your Best Doctors/Teladoc Medical Experts Behavioral Health Navigator benefit allows you to have a current mental health diagnosis reviewed by experts who will provide a second opinion, answer questions and help you find a specialist (if needed).
  • Set boundaries. Keeping an up-to-date work calendar is a great way to let your colleagues know when you’re working and when you’re not. When your home office is also the family dinner table, it can be too easy to answer email and phone calls after hours. However, as shared in this LinkedIn News article, “When there’s never a break, productivity ultimately suffers, and burnout becomes a greater risk.” It’s in your best interest to save after hours work for urgent issues only.
  • Take note of caregiver resources. We appreciate the struggles and challenges caregivers are experiencing right now. The MSU WorkLife Office has compiled an extensive list of resources available, including: options for care providers, support for managing boundaries with kids and work at home, and supervisor support on flexibility and making equitable decisions.
  • Make time to do things you enjoy. Whether that’s painting, planting a garden or walking the dog, make time to do activities you’re interested in – even if they’re challenging at first. This recent MSU Health4U article called I am a Runner! by Beth Morris LMSW, MPA chronicles Beth’s “last-ditch effort in the middle of a pandemic to try and manage stress” through a new running program. Beth’s story is inspiring and demonstrates how making time to do an activity you’re curious about – even if it’s hard – can help you cope with stress. Check out the MSU events calendar to see if there are any interesting virtual or socially distance activities you can join.
  • Practice mindfulness. There are many definitions out there of mindfulness, but most include the practice of being aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without judgement. Developing a mindfulness practice can help you focus, ease anxiety, and manage stress. MSU employees have access to discounts for the Headspace and Calm meditation apps (find here under the Reduce Stress heading). If you want to get the whole family involved, MSU Extension recently published this Starting a Mindfulness Practice with your Child article.
  • Move more. A regular exercise program can have huge benefits on our overall health and well-being. 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.
  • If you can, take time off. If you have vacation and/or personal days you can use, talk with your supervisor about taking some days off. That time away from work could be just what you need to reset and recharge.

We hope these tips and resources will help you avoid burnout or start to recover if you’re currently experiencing it. While the past year has been challenging, know that you’re not in this alone and there are resources available to help.

Sources:

Anders, G. (2020, October 8). Burnout signs have risen 33% in 2020; here are seven ways to reduce risks. Https://Www.Linkedin.Com/Pulse/Burnout-Signs-Have-Risen-33-2020-Here-Seven-Ways-Reduce-George-Anders/. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/burnout-signs-have-risen-33-2020-here-seven-ways-reduce-george-anders/

Huff, C. (2021). Employers are increasing support for mental health. American Psychological Association 2021 Trends Report, 51(1), 84. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/01/trends-employers-support

Enacting Change, Creating Impact: Women’s Advisory Committee for Support Staff Seeking New Members

Published on behalf of the Women’s Advisory Committee for Support Staff

The Women’s Advisory Committee for Support Staff (WACSS) supports a culture of equality, equity, engagement, and inclusion by providing a voice for women support staff at Michigan State University. The seventeen representatives of WACSS directly advise MSU’s Chief Diversity Officer, WorkLife Office Executive Director, and Associate Vice President for Human Resources, and are committed to five core purposes:

  • identifying areas of concern for women support staff and other employees and proposing creative solutions to address them;
  • recommending policies, programs, or procedures that impact support staff members, and particularly women;
  • ensuring a productive, safe, and educational work environment;
  • supporting an inclusive community; and
  • serving as a liaison between support staff and the MSU administration.

Since its establishment in 1976, WACSS has been a part of countless initiatives across campus aimed at improving the lives of all support staff, but with particular focus on women’s issues. WACSS was involved in the establishment of the Jack Breslin distinguished staff awards and creation of dedicated private nursing space for mothers, and championed the development of a resource guide on MSU’s Educational Assistance Program.

“WACSS is action-oriented and accomplishes a lot in a short amount of time,” says Ashley Lathrop, the Committee’s 2020-2021 chairperson. “Individuals that want to enact change, be a leader, and have real impact on MSU support staff should apply. You’ll have the incredible support of those sitting around the table with you—virtual or in person. There’s no better way to make change happen than to get involved!”

The Committee is currently seeking applications to fill 5 open positions (terms begin July 1, 2021): 1 Clerical-Technical (CTU), 1 Administrative-Professional (APA), 2 Labor (1585, SSTU, 274, and 324), and 1 At-Large (any category). Interested support staff from all categories are encouraged to apply to WACSS at tinyurl.com/WACSSapp by March 26, 2021. Membership interviews will be scheduled in April for highest-ranked candidates. Questions? Contact Emily Khan, the 20-21 vice chairperson, at wacss@msu.edu.

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 insidemsu@msu.edu).
  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.

Sources:

Place, A., & Nedlund, E. (2020, December 7). WFH loneliness is the latest virtual challenge for employers. Employee Benefit News. https://www.benefitnews.com/news/wfh-loneliness-is-the-latest-virtual-challenge-for-employers

Reminder to Take Advantage of Optional MSU Benefits and Resources

Like many, during the pandemic your family has probably experienced an increased need for virtual health care options, mental health resources, and opportunities to save money. MSU is committed to offering valuable benefits to support you and your family, especially during this difficult time. As a benefits-eligible employee, you’re probably aware of MSU’s health and dental care benefit options. However, on top of those, there are a wide range of optional benefits we’d like to remind you about as well.

Beyond meeting your health care needs, these optional benefits can help you save money on needed products and services, all while staying safe with virtual or socially distanced options. We realize keeping track of all these different resources can be overwhelming. To help, we’ve created the following recap to jog your memory with links to more detailed information to learn more.

This infographic provides a quick summary of these optional benefits (click the image for a downloadable PDF version):

Optional benefit programs available:

  • Teladoc: virtually speak with a doctor 24/7 via web, phone or mobile app. They can even write you a prescription if necessary. Employees have described Teladoc as “a game changer,” and particularly helpful during the pandemic (read employee experiences here). If you haven’t already, we recommend you sign up for Teladoc now, so you’re prepared when you need it.
  • Livongo: this diabetes management program provides free supplies delivered right to your door whenever you need it and support with optional virtual coaching. Save time and money on needed supplies, while staying safe at home. Read an employee’s perspective on Livongo and find instructions to sign up.
  • Best Doctors: get medical advice from experts on your specific medical condition and feel empowered to make the best choice possible for your care. Their Behavioral Health Navigator tool offers expert advice on the diagnosis and treatment options for mental health conditions. Learn more about how Best Doctors can help during the pandemic.
  • Voluntary Benefits and Employee Discounts: these are optional benefits offered through MSU Benefits Plus. Find insurance offerings such as vision, long-term care, legal, pet, home/auto, and critical illness (some have enrollment periods). Additionally, there are a variety of discounts on everything from electronics, home goods, meal delivery services and much more.
  • On-Campus Services: save time by getting your MRI, x-ray, or CT scan done right on-campus at MSU Radiology or have the MSU Pharmacy deliver your prescriptions directly to your home if you live within 30 miles of campus (on-campus delivery still available for free). MSU Pharmacy also has a new on-campus location you can visit with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

You might not always need or think of these resources, but keeping them tucked away can make it easier and more cost-effective to manage your family’s health. As always, if you have any questions about these benefits options, please visit the HR website to learn more or contact the HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.

Make a Plan During America Saves Week

America Saves Week (Feb. 22-26, 2021) is an annual event that encourages you to make a plan to increase your savings and improve your financial situation by utilizing your workplace retirement plan and the tools and resources they provide. Both of MSU’s retirement vendors, Fidelity and TIAA, have resources and tips on saving money, getting out of debt, and planning for retirement with live webinars, courses for financial literacy, and other tools. Be sure to review their resources on preparing for financial emergencies or managing unexpected expenses, which you may find especially useful during this difficult and uncertain time. 

Fidelity Resources

Fidelity is offering online workshops on a variety of topics including creating a budget, paying off debts, managing unexpected events and expenses, taking the first step to investing, preparing for retirement, and more. Fidelity members should consider registering for sessions (see link for details) that may be useful to your family’s current financial needs. If you can’t make the online workshops, check out this on-demand workshop called Taking Control: 3 Ways to Start Feeling Good About Your Finances. Other tools and calculators provided by Fidelity to their members can be found here.

Additionally, find resources on health and financial emergencies, building your financial “immune system” and emergency savings that are available for everyone.

TIAA Resources

TIAA’s Goal Planner webpage offers calculators and resources on how to save for things outside of your retirement plans, such as emergency funds, vacations, a home, and more. Additionally, TIAA has a financial goal planning PDF that allows you to track your money in detail. Use these tools to map your income and expenses, write down your goals, and match them to a time frame to complete them. 

If you’re struggling with debt, TIAA’s debt calculator tool will help you evaluate your current situation and then offer resources and tips to help. Additionally, their Retirement Checkup tool allows you to create a projection of how much income is needed in retirement.

Schedule a Virtual Consultation with Fidelity or TIAA

Both Fidelity and TIAA offer virtual appointments with financial consultants and encourage you to set up an appointment with them to ask any questions you have at no additional cost as part of your MSU retirement plan. Set up an appointment with your  TIAA consultant here or set up an appointment with your Fidelity consultant here. 

For general questions about retirement, visit the HR website or contact the HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434. For questions about your specific retirement plans, please contact your retirement vendor directly.

Winter Events Round-up: Virtual and Socially Distanced Campus Activities

Are you looking for socially distanced or virtual activities to attend in the coming weeks? From virtual performances to hiking trails, the following campus events will help keep you and your family entertained during the winter weeks ahead:

  1. The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum has four new exhibitions that are free and open to the public with social distancing and enhanced safety measures in place, including daily limited spots available. Please reserve your free tickets here.
  2. Hike the trails at the Kellogg Biological Station Bird Sanctuary! Enjoy the beautiful scenery as you make your way through the trails, which are opened during all four seasons. Additionally, check out their calendar of virtual events, including their upcoming Birds and Coffee Chat, Winter Twig Identification Zoom Workshop, and Nature Drawing: Blending Art and Science.
  3. The Wharton Center has a variety of virtual performances and education and engagement activities for both adults and kids.
  4. The MSU Library has tons of virtual events available for registration. These upcoming events look particularly interesting: Special Collections: Tunnel Books, Embroidery Maker Meetup, Super Science: The Legacy of Science in Superhero Comics, Special Collections: Fortune Telling, and Introduction to Gardening.
  5. The MSU Community Music School is offering online programs available for both adults and kids. Click on the program link to find all kinds of classes from private lessons to individual and group music therapy.
  6. The WorkLife Office has an extensive calendar of virtual events, including an IPF Home Improvement Series.
  7. You can still learn about and experience insects and other arthropods at the MSU Bug House with their two-part video tour.
  8. The MSU Health4U website has a variety of courses you can register for, including a virtual 5K run/walk training program, culinary cooking and concepts – curbside pickup, rest with music, and many more.
  9. SPARTANfit is offering a virtual, free five-week couch to 5k training program starting March 29 (register by March 24). You’ll get weekly workouts, tips and support to help you stay on track and accomplish your goals. The program ends just in time for the Spartan Arbor Day 5K on May 1.

We hope you all will remain safe and healthy and continue to practice social distancing until we are able to see each other on campus again. In the meantime, wear a mask, wash your hands often, and enjoy these campus activities.

Nominations are Open for the Student Employee of the Year Award!

If you work on campus, you know how important student employees are to the success of your department and the university. Do you know a student who consistently goes above and beyond in their work? Supervisors have the chance to recognize these exemplary Spartans by nominating them for the Student Employee of the Year award by February 8, 2021.

Find more details and the nomination form on the Department of Student Life website.

Eligible nominees must be:

  • Currently registered in an MSU degree-granting program.
  • Employed on student employee payroll for a minimum of three months between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021.
  • Nominated by their supervisor. Only one student employee may be nominated per supervisor. Complete an online nomination form here.
    Note: Graduate assistants, residence hall staff and other student employees who do not fall under the jurisdiction of MSU Student Employment or the Student Employee Payroll may not be nominated for this award. They are eligible for other recognition programs.

All nominees will be honored with certificates. The MSU Student Employee winner’s name is submitted for consideration for the State of Michigan competition. All nominees will be acknowledged at the virtual reception on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, via YouTube Premiere. Learn more about the award on the Department of Student Life website.

Motivational Monday Round-Up

The new year is in full swing! While resolutions are made with the best intentions, it can be hard to maintain high spirits as time progresses. If you find yourself doing the same old routine and those new year’s resolutions are a distant memory, Todd Bradley, HR Learning and Organization Development Specialist, is a great source of motivation to get you back on track.

Todd’s Motivational Monday videos are a monthly series of short videos that began during the summer of 2020. These videos were designed to motivate and inspire MSU employees, exploring topics like rational thinking skills, emotive skills and more for both professional and personal development. Visit the MSU HR YouTube channel to view Todd’s full series of Todd Talk videos.

Motivational Monday: Problem Solving 101

Todd outlines a foundational approach to problem-solving in our everyday challenges.

Motivational Monday: Strategic Critical Thinking

To sharpen rational thinking skills, Todd shares quick and easy ways to enhance strategic thinking and influence long-term success.

Motivational Monday: Emotional Intelligence

In this video, Todd explores the different facets of emotional intelligence and ways to boost it both professionally and personally.

Motivational Monday: Gratitude

Todd ends this series with a video on gratitude and the benefits of expressing it in our lives.

Visit the MSU HR YouTube channel to view Todd’s full series of Todd Talk videos.

Employee Discounts to Support New Year’s Resolutions

If you have any New Year’s resolutions related to health and wellness goals, MSU Benefits Plus has a variety of discounts and deals that may help you achieve them. These discounts and deals are exclusive to MSU employees.

To access all the discounts, visit MSU Benefits Plus and sign-in using your ZPID number (located on your Spartan Card ID badge), or you can find the number in EBS. If you haven’t used MSU Benefits Plus previously, you’ll need to sign-up using your ZPID number to access the discounts.

Exercise More

  • GlobalFit: explore GlobalFit’s growing library of free virtual classes and resources through Corestream’s GlobalFit Portal, along with exclusive discounts for members on popular fitness and wellness products. You will need to select “Activate Benefit” in the top right-hand corner and enter your contact details in order to access all the deals. Find deals on a variety of products and services, including LesMills on-demand fitness classes, virtual Honor Yoga and Meditation classes, elliptical and treadmill machines, gym memberships, POLAR heart rate monitors, and much more!
  • FitBod: Receive 1-month membership, plus 25% off your membership if you decide to sign-up. Visit the site to redeem your free month and/or follow the instructions to sign-up for membership and receive this 25% discount.

Reduce Stress

  • Calm App: Get 57% off* the #1 app for meditation and sleep! Enjoy access to the Calm app 1-year subscriptions for only $29.99 (normally $69.99) when purchasing through this link.
  • Headspace: Try Headspace and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with their free Basics course. Enjoy a free two-week trial of Headspace using this link.

Eat Healthier/Cook More

  • Shipt: For $79 per year, receive unlimited free deliveries from participating retailers on all orders over $35. Plus, get $10 off your first order. To receive this special pricing, sign up using this link and redemption code: 5ABFF1969DF.
  • Freshly: sign up to get chef cooked, healthy meals delivered right to your door. Get $60 off your first five boxes when you use promo code get60 at checkout using this link.
  • Home Chef: Get 50% off your first home chef box (up to $40) when you use code CS50 at checkout using this link.
  • EveryPlate: try Everyplate at $2.99/meal + get 20% off next 2 boxes. Use coupon code Q6-4DFGE at this link..
  • PlateJoy: get $10 off at PlateJoy using promo code GET10 at checkout using this link.

The HR website also offers other deals you can find on-campus through the MSU Tech Store, MSU Bakers, and the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, among others. You can check out some of those deals at MSU HR Website.

For more information on discounts through MSU Benefits Plus, visit the HR website. If you have any questions about the discounts, please call MSU Benefits Plus at 888-758-7575.