Tips for Creating an Effective Remote Work Schedule

Whether you’re now working from home during this time period alongside your family members, or if you’ve got a furry friend by your side begging for your attention, working remotely can be a challenge. Stepping out of your daily routine at the office may be bringing added stressors to your work life as you try to effectively manage your workload from home while adjusting to new methods of collaboration with your coworkers. 

Figuring out what works best for you during this time is far from easy, but after already practicing working away from campus these past few months, many MSU employees have been able to find ways to bring structure and efficiency into their remote workdays. We asked employees to tell us what tips, tricks, or tools they’ve been using to help them effectively succeed at remote work, and here are some common themes we found.

  1. Utilizing flexible work hours where possible

Some employees have been able to coordinate a flexible work schedule with their supervisors that helps the employees as they work remotely.

“Since COVID-19 and working from home, I start my workday at 7:30 a.m. I also take a 30-minute lunch and these two easy changes allow me to finish my workday at 4:00 p.m… I feel very blessed to have some control over my workday schedule.” – Jackie Hohenstein

“A lesson from this remote work is, work does not necessarily have to be 8-5. Work needs to get done, but depending on your preferences and home situation, perhaps starting at 6 a.m. is better, or resuming at 8 p.m. As long as the work gets done, schedules can and should be flexible.” – Rick McNeil

“I learned in a training that working at your peak performance hours leads to better productivity. For example, if you’re a morning person, you work better and complete more during your peak times. I also found that stepping away from the computer for five or 10 minutes every two hours keeps your momentum going. Overall, I like the new things I have learned becoming a remote worker.” – Natasha Williams

  1. Build Breaks Into Your Schedule

As Natasha mentions above, taking breaks keeps the momentum going. Other employees agreed that building breaks into their schedule helps them work remote more successfully.

“Working from home means that when I’m working, that pretty much means I’m looking at a computer screen. In the office, meetings used to give my eyes a break but now most meetings are on Zoom or Teams so I’m looking at a screen even then. I try to give my eyes a break by getting up from my seat and away from the computer for at least a few minutes every hour or so…I make myself take a lunch break every day where I’m not looking at my computer or phone screen. I also still take notes and brainstorm in a notebook, so that also gives me a screen break.” – Courtney Chapin

  1. Continue Your Regular Morning Routine

“One thing I have done to combat “quarantine fog” is to try to stick to my normal work schedule while also integrating time to care for my child and animals every couple of hours. Sometimes this extends the workday, but I have found I am better able to focus on my work after I have taken the dogs outside and played with them for a little bit. In addition, my 10-year-old daughter and I have been using our time in quarantine to have some good quality ‘talks.’” – Mary Keyes

  1. Keep Track of Your Workload

“I keep a document that I plan my work for the coming week on Friday. During that workweek, I keep track of the things I accomplish and the new things that come up that need to be done. I leave future action items on the list. I find this to be more effective than a paper list.” – Renee Graff

  1. Limit Distractions in Your Workplace

“Set aside a work area and leave work in the work area.  Don’t invite it into other areas of your home life.” – Jayme Miller

After hearing from other MSU employees, it is clear there are many ways to navigate remote working schedules. However you go about working remotely, looking to other coworkers or your supervisor for guidance can be one of the most helpful ways to ensure future success for yourself and your team.

Navigating through Crisis to Reinvention

Written by Jennie Yelvington, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager, HR Organization & Professional Development

Months into the COVID-19 crisis we have learned a great deal about the importance of resilience, agility, and supporting others as we navigate rapidly changing demands. The skills and mindset demonstrated by people at every level of the organization helped us move through the initial shock and make essential changes. As we move forward, with ever-shifting variables, it seems that a traditional change management perspective is inadequate. There is no clear end, and the normal we knew before won’t likely return. That reality calls on leaders to attend to rapidly changing demands of the crisis, while also considering what reinvention will look like for our institution. While stressful, this provides an interesting opportunity for all of us to reshape our organization; leaving behind the practices and systems that don’t serve us and generating new ideas for a better tomorrow.

The authors in this Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) report warn, “leadership teams will be tempted to avoid taking bold action and having the toughest conversations and will retreat to the closest thing to the status quo that they can find — but that will leave the organization weaker and less prepared for the future than it should be” (Pasmore et al., 2020). There are many things we will have to do to help assure safety in the coming year. The question is, will we be able to stretch beyond mere compliance to take strategic steps to bring the organization forward in a significant way? All of us have a responsibility to that end, and leaders must be prepared to forge the path ahead in the following ways.

  1. Build Trust

This recent Deloitte article notes “trust is a catalyst of recovery” and reminds us that “resilient leaders need to inspire their teams to navigate through these significant COVID-related uncertainties. But great leadership requires even greater followership—and followership is nurtured by trust” (Renjen, 2020). Relationships are more important now than ever, and the actions we take with our colleagues, students, and community will either serve to strengthen or diminish trust. Transparency, candid communication, empathy, and compassion are vital to creating a sense of safety. With increased trust, people are more likely to step into the unknown and further innovation, something that is desperately needed at this time.

  1. Provide Direction

It is imperative that leaders provide a north star so that all individuals involved understand where they are heading. While the situation continues to change and responses need to be flexible, a visible commitment to values, a vision for the future, and a drive to deliver on our mission can help guide decision-makers and help others see the opportunity in the crisis. In addition to direction, CCL points out that leaders need to assure there is also:

  • Alignment: effective coordination and integration of the different aspects of the work so that it fits together in service of the shared direction; and 
  • Commitment: People who are making the success of the collective, not just their individual success, a personal priority (CCL, 2020).

Reviewing the CCL article “Direction + Alignment + Commitment (DAC) = Leadership” will help you to assess and strengthen all three in your team.

  1. Collaborate Inclusively

Leading through hardship and uncertainty requires a humble approach that acknowledges we need the skills, ideas, and energy of all our people to move forward as effectively as possible. Our tradition of protected silos will not serve us in this new world. We must learn to share ideas, work together to solve problems, and stop reinventing the wheel. According to global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, “Now, more than ever, organizations need innovative thinking and ideas-sharing across the business. Inclusive leaders can create a safe space, regardless of what is happening externally, where people can feel accepted and empowered to give the best of their talents” (Korn Ferry, 2020). To reach that goal, we must examine our biases, reach outside of our comfortable circles, and actively listen and honor the perspectives of others.

  1. Develop Yourself and Others

Strong leaders know that ongoing learning and development are key to meeting changing needs effectively; this is particularly true today. This Forbes article “4 Must-Have Skills For Leaders Post-Covid-19” notes “large numbers of workers may never go back to the office permanently. Managers who can not only get the best possible results out of their teams when working remotely but also show they can still act personably with employees and ensure team morale is high will be sought after” (Forbes, 2020). Strong engagement, communication, and technology skills are critical as we navigate this ever-changing terrain. Relying solely on the knowledge that has gotten us through in the past will not carry us forward. Demonstrating ongoing learning and expecting the same of your team is critical, both for the organization and individual careers. According to Gallup, “The impact the right employee development process can have is massive —Gallup finds that organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees” (Ratanjee, 2020). In addition to training programs, formal or informal coaching, stretch assignments, and learning cohorts are key, particularly during budget shortfalls.

A newly released Academic Impressions report highlights that “adopting a systemic and intentional approach to developing the capacity of that workforce is a strategy for strengthening the institution’s capacity and resilience both during and after a crisis” (Academic Impressions, 2020). More broadly, the mindset we take as individuals and as an organization is important. “As the sector reels from unprecedented challenges, leaders can respond with either a ‘scarcity mindset’—reacting passively to factors outside their control, such as state budgets, demographic shifts, or a pandemic—or a ‘growth mindset,’ focusing on those factors within their control, leveraging the full skills and capacity of their academic workforce to find new solutions, networking and engaging actively across the sector to identify and share strategies for confronting both persistent and new challenges, and investing and reinvesting in their people” (Academic Impressions, 2020). As with any crisis, there are unique opportunities to strengthen our organization; we can make the most of those opportunities if we humbly work together in new ways, toward a unifying vision.

Sources:

Academic Impressions (2020, May). Why Professional Development is a Strategic Priority During a Time of Rapid Change. Retrieved July 17, 2020 from https://www.academicimpressions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/pd-report-ai-2020.pdf

CCL (2020). Direction + Alignment +Commitment (DAC) = Leadership. Retrieved July 17, 2020 from https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/make-leadership-happen-2/

Forbes (2020, May 28). 4 Must-Have Skills for Leaders Post COVID-19. Retrieved July 17, 2020 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/imperialinsights/2020/05/28/4-must-have-skills-for-leaders-post-covid-19/#2e778106ca1b

Korn Ferry (2020). Leading through a crisis. Retrieved July 17, 2020 from: https://www.kornferry.com/challenges/coronavirus/leadership

Pasmore et al. (2020). Turning Crisis into Opportunity: Preparing Your Organization for a Transformed World. Retrieved July 17, 2020 from https://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/turning-crisis-into-opportunity-center-for-creative-leadership.pdf

Ratanjee, V. (2020, April 30). 3 Ways to Continue Employee Development When Budgets Are Cut. Retrieved July 17, 2020 from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/309284/ways-continue-employee-development-covid.aspx

Renjen, P. (2020, April 22). The essence of resilient leadership: Business recovery from COVID-19. Retrieved July 17, 2020from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/economy/covid-19/guide-to-organizational-recovery-for-senior-executives-heart-of-resilient-leadership.html

Don’t Forget to Protect Your Eyes during UV Safety Month!

Did you know long-term exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer? Did you also know that you can easily reduce this risk and protect your eyes from UV damage simply by doing things such as wearing sunglasses, a wide-brim hat or applying sunscreen around your eyes? Your eyes are one of your most important muscles, as well as one of the most sensitive, so it is important to make sure you are protecting your vision, however that may be.

With VSP vision insurance, taking care of you and your family’s eyecare is almost as easy as simply wearing your favorite pair of sunglasses. Their vision insurance plans are available to benefit-eligible faculty and staff and their dependents.

Why Enroll in VSP?

VSP offers a range of access to care, quality eyewear options, and plan options. Additionally, VSP has partnered with Eyeconic.com to provide you with the lowest market price costs and savings on glasses, contacts, sunglasses, and even your copay when you connect your specific vision insurance plan. This a great option for those planning on shopping remotely as we continue practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future.

VSP offers two vision plans — standard or premium coverage — for all MSU benefit-eligible employees to enroll in. To learn more about these plans, visit VSP’s plan summary sheet available on the HR website. As a reminder, for those benefits-eligible faculty and staff thinking about their vision insurance needs for 2021, Open Enrollment for MSU’s voluntary, employee-paid benefits programs begins in October. Outside of open enrollment, benefits-eligible new hires or newly eligible faculty and staff have 30 days to enroll from their date of hire or date of eligibility. If you are a new hire or newly eligible and wish to enroll in VSP, please call MSU Benefits Plus Customer Care at 888-758-7575.

Another great perk to VSP’s vision insurance plans is VSP EasyOptions. With VSP EasyOptions, you and each member on your plan can choose one of these enhanced eyewear options when purchasing your glasses or contacts:

  • An additional $100 frame allowance, or
  • An additional $50 contact lens allowance, or
  • Fully covered premium and custom progressive lenses, or
  • Fully covered anti-reflective coatings

VSP also offers a 20% discount on additional glasses and sunglasses to all VSP enrollees.

More Savings with VSP

As we start returning to campus and adjusting to our new normal, VSP’s focus continues to be on you and ways that they can help MSU employees see well and be well. That’s why, starting September 1, all MSU benefit-eligible employees with the VSP Choice Plan will enjoy guaranteed pricing on all lens enhancements, an average savings of 30% out-of-pocket, with no increase in premiums.

The result? Extra money for you, at a time when every dollar counts. And, more affordable options for you to look good, see more clearly and protect your eyes.

How to Use Your VSP Benefit

To use your VSP benefit, simply follow the steps listed below and VSP will handle the rest:

  1. Create an account at vsp.com. Once your plan effective, review your benefit information. MSU and VSP provide you a choice in your vision plan — choose the Standard Coverage or select the Premium Coverage with VSP EasyOptions.
  2. Find an eye doctor who’s right for you. Visit vsp.com or call 800-877-7195.
  3. At your appointment, tell them you have VSP. There’s no ID card necessary. If you’d like a card as a reference, you can print one at vsp.com.

To enroll in VSP, go to MSUBenefitsPlus.com. For questions, contact VSP directly at 800-877-7195.

How Your Best Doctors Benefit Can Help You through COVID-19

Have you had to cancel or reschedule a surgery or other medical procedure due to the current health crisis? Best Doctors is here to help by providing expert second medical opinions and access to coaching and online education tools to benefits-eligible MSU employees and retirees. With Best Doctors, those facing serious diagnoses or those who are unsure of their treatment plan can have their medical diagnosis, treatment plan and medical questions reviewed and answered by world-renowned medical experts for free. Those who utilize their Best Doctors benefit are ensured to have the right information, the right diagnosis and the right treatment going forward as they navigate through the rest of life’s uncertainties.

How Others Have Benefitted from Best Doctors

Best Doctors user testimonial quote saying, "The Best Doctors experience was thorough and easy. I received a wealth of information and interacted with people who seemed like they genuinely cared about what happens to me."

How Best Doctors Helped the Price Family:

How Best Doctors Helped Jack: Best Doctors Stopped Jack from Undergoing an Unnecessary, High-Risk Surgery

Testimonial quote from Jack saying, "I don't know how to put Best Doctors' overall concern and sincerity of caring into words."

How Best Doctors Helped Bruce: Best Doctors made sure Bruce had the information he needed to make the best decision for him

Testimonial quote from Bruce saying, "The report gave me confidence in my decision to move forward with the right solution for me."

How Does it Work?

Watch a video about how Best Doctors can help you or follow the steps below for access to Best Doctors’ services.

Visit the  Best Doctors website  and click “Create a Profile” to register. You then have the option to  use  the following services:

  1. Expert Opinion: Have a physician conduct an in-depth review of your medical case and receive  expert advice about medical treatment options.  
  1. Find a Specialist: Get help finding a specialist near you. 
  1. Treatment Decision Support: You have access to coaching and interactive, online educational tools that offer in-depth and easy-to-follow information about your specific medical condition. Use these tools to help you make more educated, confident decisions about your health. 
  1. Medical Records eSummary: With your permission, you have the option to allow Best Doctors to collect and organize your medical records for you and provide them on a USB drive. You will also receive a personal Health Alert Summary based on the records collected, giving you a total snapshot of your medical wellness. 

For any questions about Best Doctors, contact Best Doctors directly using the information below: 

  • Phone: 866-904-0910 
  • Best Doctors Website 
  • App: Download the Best Doctors app for Apple/Android by searching for “Best Doctors Member” in the Apple store or Google Play 

Mental Health Awareness: Resources to Know About for Those in Need

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and during the COVID-19 health care crisis, we want to ensure that you are aware of the various virtual mental health resources available to MSU employees during these difficult times.

MSU faculty/staff and their dependents who are currently enrolled in an MSU health care plan have access to Teladoc – an online medical care service that gives you 24/7 access to a healthcare professional via web, phone or mobile app in minutes. Eligible employees and their dependents, who must be over the age of 18, can also receive medical care for their behavioral health (depression, anxiety, grief counseling, addiction, etc.).

Watch the video below to learn more about how Teladoc works:

How Does it Work?

Visit the Teladoc website and click on “Member Login” to set up your Teladoc account. When you need medical advice, you can receive convenient, quality care from a licensed health care professional in three easy steps:

  1. Request: ask for a visit with a doctor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by web, phone or mobile app.
  2. Visit: talk to the doctor. Take as much time as you need to explain your medical situation – there’s no limit.
  3. Resolve: if medically necessary, a prescription will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice.

To learn more about Teladoc or for any questions you may have, contact Teladoc directly at 1-800-Teladoc, at the Teladoc website or by downloading the Teledoc app for Apple/Android by searching for “Teladoc” in the Apple Store or Google Play.

Lately, Have You Felt Distracted, Unfocused, Sad, Angry, Overwhelmed or Confused?

This is a guest post written by Jonathon Novello, MSU Health4U consultant and EAP counselor.

Over the last month, mental health providers have seen an increase in clients with anxieties related to current challenges and uncertainties caused by the worldwide pandemic. They seek answers to big questions about their health, families, jobs, finances, and relationships. They describe feeling distracted, unfocused, sad, angry, overwhelmed, and confused. Many are feeling something unexpected, a feeling that they may not be able to immediately identify.

That feeling is grief.

Grief is an emotion we typically associate with death, but we can feel grief even when we haven’t lost someone close to us. In fact, grief has to do with how we adjust to any loss; and right now, we are surrounded by it. Think about the losses you’ve experienced recently and see if they are similar to what other Spartans have endured, such as loss of:

  • Health
  • Certainty and predictability
  • A clear sense of the future
  • Vacations and other experiences
  • Time with extended family and friends
  • Variety and freedom
  • Comfort, safety and security

When humans experience loss we feel grief. Grief is the process of moving from resistance of that loss to acceptance. We don’t want to lose stability, time with our parents, or the opportunity to watch our daughter’s senior soccer season, so our brain resists that loss. We struggle with it and experience a whole series of emotions as we sort out what this loss means to us.

Here’s the thing about grief: there are no short-cuts. Grief is a process that we must move through in order to accept and live with our new reality. The grief process is often inconvenient, and at times frustratingly slow. While we are grieving, our brains are being taxed with a whole host of complicated feelings, from anger, to sorrow, to bargaining, to denial. These feelings come and go and are not linear. We might feel fine one morning, and then something happens around noon and we start to feel angry, and then by dinnertime we are suddenly weepy and sad. Or, we may think we’ve left anger and moved onto sorrow, only to feel anger well up again.

It is very common for people who are struggling with grief to have difficulty concentrating, and many find it much harder to focus on work, other responsibilities, or even pastimes that normally reduce their stress. That is normal and expected.

Have you felt like that at some point in the past several weeks? Maybe you’ve been unfocused this week or more easily distracted. Maybe you’ve been feeling unmoored and “blue.” You may have noticed some days your emotions feel like they are right under the surface, ready to burst through if someone says just the wrong thing, or you drop one more Zoom call.

We are all dealing with loss and knowing this might help us have compassion for ourselves, as well as others. You are not alone in this. Remember that grief is a process. We know that Spartans Will move through this, but at our own pace and in our own time. Be patient with yourselves and with each other and try not to rush the process.

Resources to Help You and Your Family

If you or a family member would like to talk to someone, remember The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential counseling service provided at no cost to MSU faculty, staff, retirees, graduate student employees and their benefit-eligible family members. During this period of physical distancing, EAP counselors are now exclusively offering Telehealth videoconferencing, which is an encrypted platform that is completely confidential and HIPAA compliant. Learn how to make an appointment.

Additionally, MSU Health4U has a variety of resources on their website that may be useful, including the following:

Lastly, MSU employees who are enrolled in an MSU health plan have access to Teladoc, which offers behavioral health (depression, anxiety, grief counseling, addiction, etc.) services via web, phone or app for members and their dependents who are age 18+. Learn more about Teladoc.

Taking Care of Your Team and Yourself During the Pandemic

This is a guest post written by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager for HR Organization and Professional Development.

There are many issues leaders need to be aware of in this unprecedented time in order to help themselves and the people they lead stay as steady and effective as possible.

Issue 1: Uncertainty
Most like to have a sense of control over their work and lives. Many may react to the vast number of unknowns we are currently facing with anxiety, foggy brain, irritability or fear. Leaders can help allieviate these feelings in the following ways:

  • Over-communicate. Have regular check-ins, forward relevant emails to your team (for example, many of the DDC announcements) and send your team emails summarizing non-confidential information from your leadership meetings.
  • Be honest. Tell employees what you don’t know. It is vitally important to share information, but often in times of rapid change, you honestly won’t have all the answers; reassure them that you will share information as soon as it is available.
  • Be transparent, clear and concise about challenges, then engage the team in problem-solving mitigation strategies.
  • Remind them of what isn’t changing. What aspects of the work and team are unchanged? Even broad statements like our commitment to safety, teaching and research will serve as reminders and can help guide people. Reassure them that this time of tremendous uncertainty will pass.
  • Encourage people to be kind and offer grace to each other. Expect the same of yourself. A bit of empathy goes a long way.
  • Celebrate victories. Did someone learn new technology? Meet an urgent deadline? Facilitate an important collaboration? Recognize and celebrate these victories, even the small ones.

Issue 2: Connection
Some people are completely isolated in their homes, others are working on-site but without coworkers and most are under high pressure with family and other demands. All can feel lonely and overwhelmed. The following tips encourage connection:

  • Remember everyone. Connect with everyone on your team regularly, along with essential stakeholders. This situation will end at some point, and re-entry will be smoother if everyone still feels like a vital part of the team.
  • Treat everyone with respect and set that expectation with your team. Sometimes it’s easier to be uncivil when communicating virtually, which makes it even more important to be explicit in your expectations and to model inclusive, respectful behavior.
  • Have some fun. Staff meetings may involve a specific agenda, but don’t forget to also check-in to see how people are doing, not just what they are doing. Try to send a funny (work-appropriate) meme via chat, share an uplifting story or offer a word of encouragement. Groups across MSU have started virtual coffee hours, networking opportunities and more to stay connected. What could you initiate with your team to stay connected?

Issue 3: Decision Making and Empowerment
It can be daunting to make decisions when there are so many unknowns, yet a lack of decision making can cause significant problems. The following guidance may help:

  • Let MSU’s mission, departmental goals and your principles guide you. We must do the best we can with the information we have and understand that a different decision may be necessary tomorrow if new information comes forward.
  • Trust your team to use their expertise to figure things out. It isn’t necessary to have every answer before starting something. Allow people to bring their energy to tackling problems and supporting each other. Check-in regularly, provide parameters and offer support.
  • Identify allies and constituents that you need to stay in touch with as you make decisions. Think systemically. Who else could be impacted by this? What unintended consequences could arise? Who else might contribute important information? More than ever, this situation has highlighted our interconnectedness. Don’t go it alone.

Issue 4: Perspective
While sugar-coating or denying reality is not helpful, you can acknowledge challenges and still stay positive. John Maxwell said, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Consider the following:

  • Talk about what is going well, not just the challenges.
  • Encourage people to utilize their strengths and help each other.
  • What opportunities are available for your team? Some could develop new skills, document or improve a process, create a new program, or take on a project they previously didn’t have time for. Others might have a chance to clarify priorities or boundaries or develop a habit of better self-care.
  • Acknowledge that there will be days with low productivity. We’ve never been through anything like this before, and we are all doing our best. Some days you might be highly productive, and on others, it might be a victory to do the bare minimum and get through the day.

We are all part of MSU. Being kind to ourselves and others is essential as we adapt to the current situation. Eventually, we will be back with lessons learned, and perhaps lasting changes as we move into the future. For now, connect with others, consider utilizing the MSU Employee Assistance Program for additional support, and reach out to Organization and Professional Development if we can help with skill-building, leadership challenges or team effectiveness. Most of all, take care of yourself, your team and your loved ones. You’ve got this.

Stop Tobacco and Nicotine Use with Help from Breathe Easy

Have you attempted to stop using tobacco and/or nicotine products in the past with little to no success? Find the support you need right on campus! MSU Health4U created Breathe Easy, a free tobacco, and nicotine cessation program.

As an MSU employee (or adult benefit-eligible dependent) who is currently using tobacco, nicotine, or vaping products begin your next step to quit with Breathe Easy. Breathe Easy offers fall and spring support sessions for employees and/or their benefit-eligible dependents looking to stop using tobacco or nicotine products. The next available session will begin Wed., Feb. 26 and will run a total of six sessions through Wed., May 20. This program offers behavior support, medical evaluation and the choice of medication to quit. (You also have the option to quit without using medication.)

Quote from past Breath Easy Program Participant. "I never thought I could quit. I had smoked for 45 years. I feel so much better and have not touched a cigarette since I finished the program."

You can register for the upcoming session at 517-353-2596 or by emailing health4u@msu.edu. Find more information on this program at MSU’s Health4U website or visit Linton Hall, Suite 110.

Get Support to Stop Tobacco, Nicotine and Vaping Use

Would you like to stop using tobacco, nicotine or vaping products, but could use some support? There’s help for you right on campus! MSU’s Health4U Team operates a program called Breathe Easy, a free program focused solely on assisting individuals to quit using tobacco, nicotine and vaping products.

Breathe Easy combines several approaches, such as behavioral and nutritional support sessions and medical evaluations. Participants may elect to use conventional anti-smoking treatments or can attempt smoking cessation without medication. In order to be eligible, participants must be an MSU faculty, academic/support staff, graduate student employee, retiree, or their spouse or adult benefits-eligible family member. One participant had this to say about their experience with the program, “I am very pleased with my experience and success with the program. For the first time in maybe eight quit attempts, I am successful and remain smoke-free for over a year. The program’s educational support component combined with the medication proved to be the best formula for my success. The professional staff [is] very supportive, caring, and committed to providing the best care and knowledge to overcome smoking addiction.”

“For the first time in maybe eight quit attempts, I am successful and remain smoke-free for over a year.”

MSU Breathe Easy Program Participant

The next Breathe Easy session will begin Wed., Oct. 23 and run for six weeks. Employees are not required to use their own time accruals to participate in the Breathe Easy Program, as long as you are compliant with program participation requirements and your supervisor has approved release time for the program.

You can register for the upcoming session at 517-353-2596 or by emailing health4u@msu.edu. Find more information on this program at MSU’s Health4U website or visit Linton Hall, Room 113.

Give your children a healthy start for back to school with VSP Vision

August is National Eye Exam Month! As you’re getting ready for back to school, don’t forget to schedule annual eye exams for your kids. Are you an MSU benefit-eligible employee? Are you enrolled in VSP Vision Care for 2019? Then you have access to coverage for everything from the annual eye exam to new prescription glasses. Make sure your family starts the new school year right with a healthy vision!

According to VSP Vision studies show that 84% of parents agree that regular eye exams help their kids in school, but they often wait until their child complains to make an eye doctor appointment. Getting an eye exam before school starts can help your child start the school year off right.

And while you might be soaking up those last moments of summer, keep this in mind:  your eyes can get sunburned. After being in the sun all summer long your eyes can get damaged from the sun. The best way to protect your eyes is by wearing sunglasses while outside. An eye exam can see if your eyes were damaged by the sun and consider the next steps to take care of them.

Whether or not you’ve already used your coverage for your annual eye exam or prescription, you can start planning ahead for next year. MSU Benefits Open Enrollment starts October 1, which makes now a great time to start thinking about what you might need for vision insurance next year and make sure you pick the plan that’s right for your family’s needs. VSP Vision Care offers two different plans – standard and premium. You can check out the benefits of both plans here. Note: Information is currently based on the 2019 plan year; check back in October for updated information for 2020.

For more information on VSP Vision Care, visit MSU Benefits Plus.