Courses in February to Improve Workplace Communication

Being able to communicate effectively with your co-workers is key to a successful and engaged workplace. When you can share your ideas openly and understand your co-workers’ views in return, you’re more likely to feel happier at work. Yet, oftentimes there are certain barriers that can make communication difficult, like personality or work style differences. If you have a better understanding of your own work and personality styles – and can identify different styles in others – you can start to bridge any gaps of misunderstanding and ultimately communicate more effectively.

We have a variety of courses available in February for MSU employees related to improving communication:

Everything DiSC: Behavior Styles at Work
Have you ever had a co-worker or boss who you could not even begin to understand? Even when you ask them questions, you’re still unsure what they need or want. Most of us have felt this way at one time or another. The course EverythingDiSC: Behavior Styles at Work is designed to help you understand yourself and other people better by giving you an understanding of different behavioral work styles.

Before the course, you will take a simple online assessment to learn your DiSC style, which is your unique work behavior style. During the class, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how your style relates to others and tools to help you connect better with co-workers whose priorities and preferences differ from yours.

Honing Your Emotional Intelligence
The essence of emotional intelligence (also known as EQ or EI) is our ability to identify and manage our own emotions and to identify emotions in others. In today’s high-stress, multi-tasking workplace, having a high EQ can lead to better stress management, stronger relationships with better communication and increased job satisfaction. The Honing Your Emotional Intelligence course will show you tools to master the principles found within EQ. Specifically, this course will focus on:

  • Why EQ is an essential competency in today’s work world.
  • How to fully engage the four fundamental areas of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
  • How to increase your EQ.
  • Why EQ has a direct impact on job satisfaction and performance excellence.

Thriving Through Change
Change is inevitable and being able to communicate effectively through change will help ease the transition process. This course will define what change is and help you understand the stages and reactions to change. Learn techniques and strategies to help you cope with stress and manage the process successfully.

Ready to Register?
To register, login to the EBS Portal and click on the My Career and Training tab, then the Courses for Employees at MSU tile. Find a complete list of available OPD courses on the HR website.

Job of the Week – RHS Planner/Inspector/Analyst

This week’s job of the week is an RHS Planner/Inspector/Analyst #557966 for Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS) in the Planning and Projects Office. This position is seeking an individual to serve as a liaison between the department and Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) to oversee both capital and major projects, as well as day-to-day facilities projects.

The responsibilities for this role include handling day-to-day needs of IPF projects and managing installation schedules of flooring and products. Other responsibilities for this role include managing budgets, schedules, and coordinating the reduction of hazardous materials with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge acquired in the first two or three years of college, technical or vocational school with an associate degree in Construction Management, Engineering or a related field; three to five years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in construction, industrial design, project management; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

Creating Professional or Personal Development Goals that Stick

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? The start of a new year inspires people to make big changes to improve their lives. Unfortunately, that goal we set on January 1 can start to look pretty daunting a couple weeks later when the initial buzz of new year motivation wears off. It’s not uncommon for goals to be forgotten or abandoned. In fact, for those who make New Year’s resolutions, 80% fail to stick to their goal by February (Jantz, 2018). If you’re struggling to maintain your New Year’s resolution, don’t give up hope yet. This just means it’s time to recalibrate or redefine your goal, and we’ve got tips and tools to help.

Identify Why a Goal is Meaningful to You
At the start of a new year, people are inspired to commit to lofty goals they’ve previously never been able to achieve. Common goals include lose weight, save money, learn a new skill and find a new job (Economy, 2019). Unfortunately, that initial rush of inspiration is only temporary, which is why most end up losing interest after a couple weeks. Motivation alone cannot push you to achieve a goal, learn a new skill, or change a habit. And if your goal is too vague, you’re likely to forget about it come February.

When you’re curious about a goal, you must ask yourself why you want to achieve it – and then keep asking yourself why until you get to the root of why this goal is meaningful to you. Leadership and career coach Lisa Rogoff explains, “You’d be surprised at how many [goals] are grounded in values and purpose. And when you can surface that meaning and give it a voice, a simple goal shifts into a mission. With your why front and center, it’s almost impossible to turn your back and not go after it.” When you identify the personal value and meaning behind a goal you increase your likelihood of achieving it. Read Rogoff’s full article.

Get help identifying a meaningful professional development goal by visiting the Explore Your Learning Needs page or the Sample Goals for Different Roles page on the HR website.

After you’ve identified your goal and why it’s meaningful to you, it’s time to make it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The SMART method helps you make a detailed plan with clear objectives to achieve your goal. Learn more about SMART goals.

Be Accountable.
If you have a professional development goal, try sharing it with your supervisor or incorporating it into your Performance Excellence plan (for support staff). Check in with your supervisor periodically to make sure you’re hitting your objectives and making progress. If you’re not sure how to broach the subject, visit the Requesting and Accepting Feedback page for tips to start the conversation.

Stay Inspired with Resources on Campus.
As an MSU employee, you have a variety of resources available to help you create lasting change and achieve your goals:

  • Take a professional development course on one of the many subjects offered through Organization and Professional Development. For support or academic staff with 12 full-time service months, don’t forget you can use your Educational Assistance benefit for any fees.
  • Use the FREE online elevateU resources – books, videos, courses and more!
  • The WorkLife Office offers tons of resources and programs to help MSU employees navigate the workplace, their careers and life transitions.
  • The Academic Advancement Network provides programs, opportunities, and events for faculty, academic staff and academic administrators.
  • The MSU Health4U program offers health-related articles, cooking classes, coaching, and health/wellness events.
  • The MSU Library provides events and classes on a variety of interesting subjects to staff and faculty.

Economy, P. (2019, January 01). 10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019. Retrieved from

Jantz, D. G. (2018, January 03). This Year’s Resolution. Retrieved from

Rogoff, L. (n.d.). The Best Goals Start With ‘Why’. Retrieved from

Job of the week – College Alumni Coordinator

This week’s job of the week is a College Alumni Coordinator (#555848) for the College of Social Science. This position is seeking an individual to plan and lead academic engagement between students, faculty and alumni.

The responsibilities for this role include concentrating on alumni relations with a focus on engagement to build advocacy for the College of Social Science, networking with other departments and colleges on campus and raising funding to support the college. Other responsibilities for this role include planning all alumni relations and development focused events, facilitating engagement opportunities with alumni to speak with students about their Spartan story and providing them with mentoring.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge acquired by completing a four-year college degree program in Business, Communications Arts, Marketing or related field; one to three years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in higher education fundraising, event coordination, public speaking, or equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

Cherelyn Dunlap Joins Human Resources to Fortify the MSU Approach for Employees with Disabilities

cherelyn dunlap
Cherelyn Dunlap from the Office of Employee Relations, MSU HR.

MSU Human Resources is excited to introduce Cherelyn Dunlap, who joins our Office of Employee Relations (OER) team in a new role that will work closely with the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD). This new role was created to help streamline the process and experience for employees with disabilities who are seeking accommodations to help them perform their job duties.

The OER Director Rick Fanning is thrilled to have Cherelyn on board, “We are happy that Cherelyn has joined us in Employee Relations. She brings a great deal of knowledge and experience in the accommodation process, and I am sure that her work will be a valuable addition to MSU.”

Cherelyn’s considerable work experience includes 20 years as a Labor Relations Representative and Benefits Director for the Michigan Corrections Organization and an Employee Relations Specialist for the Auto Club Group (also known as AAA). Her extensive knowledge of benefits, insurances, FMLA, Workers’ Compensation, and retirement, in addition to managing accommodation requests, makes her well-equipped to take on this new role at the university.

Along with her knowledge and skillset, Cherelyn shows a genuine enthusiasm for impacting and improving someone’s work experience, which makes her a true asset to the MSU community.  “At an institution where inclusion is paramount, we must ensure that individuals with disabilities feel confident in knowing the university will strive to meet their needs. The RCPD has been diligent in providing this service thus far, and it is my desire to help find ways to continue, and improve, this important work moving forward,” says Cherelyn.


There are many different scenarios where an accommodation could improve an employee’s work experience. Cherelyn explains, “When we think of an individual with a disability, we think of someone with a physical disability we can see; however, there are many individuals working with disabilities we cannot see.” For example, a person who suffers from migraine headaches may complain that their condition is brought on by the glare from their computer screen. An accommodation could be to provide the employee with a screen overlay to diminish the glare from their computer.

Other accommodations could be more advanced. People who develop arthritis in their hands can have difficulty performing any job functions that require them to type and use a computer. Manipulating the computer keys and mouse exacerbates the individual’s arthritis. An accommodation could be to provide the employee with software which allows them to use talk to text. The software learns the various programs the employee utilizes, and the employee uses a headset or handheld microphone to speak the words that should go into the spreadsheet, report, email, etc.

Cherelyn is quick to point out that every employee is unique, and the accommodation recommended is entirely based on the individual’s needs and determined on a case-by-case basis. Cherelyn and the team of professionals at the RCPD are ready to assist employees with resources that create an environment of opportunity.

Michael Hudson, RCPD Director remarks, “Cherelyn arrives with extensive HR experience that will fortify inclusion efforts for people with disabilities in the workplace. RCPD will continue to welcome persons with disabilities with an ability-centered approach and innovative solutions while HR formalizes these into reasonable accommodations.” You can learn more about the RCPD in this recent MSUToday article.

What is the Process for Receiving an Accommodation?

If you believe you have a condition that could be improved by an accommodation, the following steps will help guide you through the process:

  1. You should register with the RCPD and make a written request for an accommodation. You must also provide the RCPD with medical documentation of the disability.
  2. The RCPD then determines whether you have a qualifying disability, as defined by the law and the university policy.
  3. After the RCPD has determined the condition qualifies as a disability, Cherelyn will begin consulting with RCPD on the case and promptly begin the accommodation process.

MSU HR and RCPD are thrilled to have Cherelyn join the Employee Relations team and are looking forward to her contributions to MSU!

Questions? Please visit the RCPD website to learn more about how employees with disabilities can find assistance at MSU or to register your own disability with the RCPD.

Retirement Planning: 2019 IRS Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

Could you be saving more for your retirement? Whether you’ve just started working at MSU or have been here for 30+ years, it is important that you continue to monitor and adjust how much you’re saving if you want to have a comfortable retirement.

The IRS places limits on how much employees can contribute to a retirement plan each year. The IRS recently announced the retirement plan limits for 2019:

  • The annual employee contribution amount increased to $19,000 from $18,500 for 403(b) and 457(b) plans.
  • The age 50 catch-up contribution amount stayed the same and is $6,000 for 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

If you want to save as much as you can for your retirement, there is a tool in the EBS Portal called the Max Savings Contributions Calculator available to assist you. This tool automatically displays the remaining amount of retirement contributions you have available before reaching one of the limits, and the equivalent percentage of your pay to help you spread that out for the year.

To access this tool:

1. Login to the EBS Portal with your MSU NetID and password.

2. Click the My Benefits tab.

3. Click the Retirement/Health Savings Account tile.

4. Navigate to the Savings Plans screen.

5. The Max Savings Contributions Calculator screen will display. This display will automatically show the remaining amount of retirement contributions you have available (if any) before reaching the IRS limit.

6. You can adjust the percentage of your contributions to any retirement plans you participate in by clicking on the pencil icon.

7. If you want to enroll in a new plan, begin by clicking on the paper icon next to the plan and vendor of your choosing, and then enter the percentage of your new contribution.

If you are an academic year faculty or academic staff employee, or a Voluntary 403(b) Base participant age 50 and over, contact the HR Solutions Center at 517-353-4434 or for further assistance in calculating your maximum contribution percentage.

Learn More About MSU’s Retirement Plans

The HR website contains a wealth of information about the different types of retirement plans offered, retirement investment vendors, and planning tools available.

Nominations are now open for the Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award

Do you know an employee here at MSU that is pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree and still going above and beyond in their work? MSU is seeking nominations for the Ruth Jameyson ‘Above and Beyond’ Award through Friday, January 18, 2019.

This annual award recognizes a support staff member who most closely exemplifies the contributions, personal characteristics, and commitment to MSU demonstrated by Ms. Jameyson. In recognition of Ms. Jameyson’s own pursuit of a graduate degree while working at MSU, nominees must be pursuing a graduate degree at MSU or elsewhere concurrent with their employment at MSU. The recipient will be honored at the Distinguished Staff Award Reception in May.

Learn more about the 2018 Ruth Jameyson Award Winner, Melissa Congleton:


Individuals may be nominated by any member of the university community (colleague, administrator, faculty, support staff, student). A nominee must be a regular, active employee with at least five years of service to Michigan State University in a support staff position.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, January 18, 2019. You can learn more about the Ruth Jameyson Award on the MSU HR website.

Job of the week – Concert Production/Technical Manager

This week’s job of the week is a Concert Production/Technical Manager (#554761) for the Department of Music. This position is seeking an individual to plan and implement the backstage usage and theatrical equipment for productions, performances and other events.

The responsibilities for this role include assisting with creating and maintaining the master planning calendars for theatre and production, managing conflicting needs for hall access and usage, and assisting with scheduling and oversight of support staff for hall operations. Other responsibilities for this role include coordinating movement of musical instruments and advising/assisting with the load-in and set up of productions and performances.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge acquired by completing a four-year college degree program in a business-related field; one to three years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in house management, managing large numbers of employees, operating computers, and office procedures; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

Tips to Use Your Flexible Spending Account Funds

Welcome to 2019 and your flexible spending account (FSA) funds! If you signed up for a 2019 FSA during Open Enrollment last October, you’re on your way to saving money on out-of-pocket medical and/or dependent care expenses. MSU’s FSA plan administrator is WageWorks. If this is your first time participating in an FSA, make sure you register for your online WageWorks account.

If you have a Health FSA, you can purchase a variety of products and services with pre-tax dollars – it’s like a 30% off sale on eligible expenses1. Some items you may not know about include:

  • Allergy medication
  • Bandages
  • Breastfeeding classes
  • Cough syrup
  • Dyslexia treatment
  • First-aid kits
  • Guide dog
  • Hearing aids
  • Humidifier/air filter
  • Lasik
  • Pain relievers
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Reading glasses
  • Smoking cessation drugs
  • Sunscreen

You can find a complete list of eligible expenses for both health and dependent care FSA funds on the WageWorks website2. To make shopping for eligible expenses easier, visit the online FSA Store for the largest selection of guaranteed FSA-eligible products. And remember, managing your WageWorks account is quick and easy with the WageWorks EZ receipts app. You’ll love the convenience of submitting claims, uploading receipts and checking account balances directly from your phone.

What if I still have funds left over from my 2018 FSA?

Not to worry – if you still have funds left over from your 2018 FSA, you have until March 15, 2019 to use these funds and until April 30, 2019 to submit receipts to substantiate these claims. Find more information on the HR website.

Questions? For more detailed information contact WageWorks at 877-924-3967 or visit the WageWorks website. For plan eligibility questions contact the HR Solutions Center at or 517-353-4434.

1 Assumes a combined tax rate of 30%, including FICA, state, and federal income taxes. Actual amounts may vary.

2 Some items may require a doctor’s prescription or other documentation from your doctor. Please see your account details for more information.

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 4, 2019.

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

Last year’s winner was Emily Duddles, Learning Assistant for the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

emily duddles jpg 2
Last year’s Student Employee of the Year winner, Emily Duddles.

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, 2018, and May 31, 2019.
  • 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 reception on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. Learn more about the award on the Department of Student Life website.