MSU Summer Events, Activities and Courses Round-Up

Enjoy your summer with these campus activities, events, and courses to do with your family and friends!

Outdoor 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 and in-person events, which now include daily bird and butterfly activities and walks throughout the property.
  • 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 can see that along with the flowers and sprawling grounds, there is now a temporary art installation to check out! The garden is open for you to walk around and enjoy the plants and pond in a beautiful setting. Be sure to continue to follow current and posted COVID-19 guidelines.

Performance and Art

  • The Wharton Center is preparing for a full reopening in the fall, but if you are missing the theater, check out all of the great opportunities to learn and grow through Wharton at Home. You can also join instructors for a livestream class every Wharton Wednesday at 10:30 A.M. here.
  • The Broad Art Museum has multiple exhibits on display throughout the summer, including the “Interstates of Mind” ending on August 8 and “Where We Dwell” beginning on August 7. The Broad Art Lab on Grand River Avenue is also open once again for $16 per session. If you are looking for at home activities, the Broad Museum Online has virtual exhibits and art classes open to the public.

Learning

  • The Abrams Planetarium at MSU is now open for shows on Saturday and Sunday nights. You can register online here for either Big Astronomy or We Are Stars. Patrons can also book private showings for up to 20 people or check out Night Sky Chats, streaming on Facebook Live every Wednesday Night.
  • MSU HR is always updating the OPD Resources online, so this summer you can take a course on anything from Communication to Professional Development from the comfort of your own home. Check out the full list of course offerings here.

Health

  • MSU Health4U has multiple summer programs running every month for free, just register online and choose the program, or programs, right for you.
  • SPARTANfit Health and Wellness Program is offering a comprehensive virtual fitness assessment for MSU employees and their spouses! Get a three month plan from your assessment and start reaching your summer health and fitness goals.

Explore these great campus activities this summer but remember to continue to stay safe by wearing a mask if you are not fully vaccinated, wash your hands often, and maintain physical distance.

Job of the Week: Agricultural Laborer

This week, MSU Human Resources is featuring a Service and Maintenance Laborer position (posting 714930) at the South Campus Animal Farms in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

This temporary position was created to perform and assist in routine agricultural labor. This includes but is not limited to assisting the care and feeding of livestock, conducting routine maintenance of farm equipment and buildings, and loading and unloading supplies, materials, tools, and livestock. The laborer will also be tasked with assisting with skilled trades and tradesmen by working with tools and equipment across all farm units, and operating tractors and trucks. Requirements also include cleaning barns, sheds, pens, and equipment, seasonal grounds keeping, and any miscellaneous duties as assigned. The physical demands include lifting over 75 pounds and the capacity to walk fields and stand for extended periods of time. Read a full list of responsibilities here

The desired qualifications for the position include coursework in a secondary, technical, vocational, or trade school and/or college in the field of animal science. The application also desired basic plumbing, welding, and electrical skills. To apply, you must submit a resume and cover letter. The posted work hours for the position are 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with a day-to-day schedule of working 10 days on, four days off. 

To learn more about the work location, visit the Cattle Teaching Resource Center Website, and to learn more about the position and apply here by July 11. Find all the latest job postings at careers.msu.edu

Leadership Blog Series: Measuring and Improving Employee Engagement

Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development

Before the pandemic, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace research pegged employee engagement at an abysmal 15%. While there is no perfect definition of employee engagement, it’s fair to say that if 85% of any given workforce is disengaged, regardless of the criteria, an organization is not providing its best effort and could be headed for trouble.

In 2017, 81% of employees surveyed indicated they would consider leaving their jobs if the right offer came along, and the “right offer” criteria did not equate to simply receiving a higher rate of pay. It’s no secret that there are now additional challenges to filling positions and retaining talent across the entire spectrum of occupations due to the pandemic. Plus, humans are curious creatures — if one of our colleagues leaves their position, others are more likely to follow suit.

We have approximately 12,000 benefits-eligible employees at MSU. Using Gallup’s findings, does that mean 10,200 of us are not engaged? And if so, what can we do about it

What is Engagement?

To begin, it’s imperative to know what employee engagement entails. Engagement is sometimes used synonymously with employee satisfaction or even happiness. However, these three measures are quite different.

Happy employees are individuals who generally respond to work situations with a decided choice. Even when faced with difficult situations, how the employee deals with the circumstances is what determines happiness.

Satisfied employees are content, but it doesn’t mean they are engaged. Organizations are filled with employees who like their jobs enough — the conditions, benefits, pay — and continue to come to work but do not help drive toward goals or improvements. Plenty of people are satisfied just going through the motions, but the competitive edge will go to organizations with more significant numbers of engaged employees.

An organization heavily influences engaged employees. Engagement is more about how employees feel about their organizations. They bring their whole selves to the job and are committed to achieving the goals of the organization. They do everything in their power to help their organization be successful. They go above and beyond. They have a growth mindset, can tackle the challenges, and seek continuous improvement — and their leaders support these behaviors.

Consider the V-5 Model

To better gauge your unit’s employee engagement level, try the V-5 model. V-5 describes five major elements of employee engagement in the pandemic/post-pandemic organization: value, voice, variety, virtue, and vision.

Value — Employees are the most vital asset and are valued for their work and commitment. They are recognized and respected.

Voice — Employees can provide feedback without fear of negative impact and have input on work rules and policies.

Variety — Jobs leverage skills and strengths and offer creativity, autonomy, and challenge.

Virtue — Employees connect to the organization’s values, have trust and belief in its mission across the organization, and see that it creates value for all stakeholders.

Vision — There is a clear and comprehensive stated goal of an organization that it strives to achieve in the future. Key features of a vision include brevity, goal clarity, an abstract yet challenging approach, and desirable goals.

Interested in learning more? The V-5 model table breaks down the variables of each V-5 element and can be helpful in customizing this approach for your unit.

Advice on Engagement Surveys

Some units use surveys to gain insight into employee engagement. If you plan to take this approach, be sure to review and follow the steps below.

  • As a reminder, any survey going to support staff will need to be reviewed by the Office of Employee Relations before issuance.
  • Until there is an organization-wide effort on employee engagement, units must think carefully about their survey design.
  • If you don’t attend to essential items that make a difference, such as those outlined in the V-5 model, don’t bother. You’ll likely only make things worse. One resource to utilize is the Sample Employee Engagement Questions, which provides effective survey questions and explains some of the challenges you might encounter during this process.

It bears mentioning that there are several valid proprietary survey instruments available for purchase as well. Ensure you do not plagiarize these as the legal ramifications could put your unit at risk.

Additional OPD resources

There are a number of resources available to further advance your knowledge and practical application of employee engagement methods.

Live, Online Course

elevateU Online Resources

Sources

Kumar, P. (2021) V-5 Model of employee engagement during COVID-19 and post lockdown. Vision: The Journal of Business Perspective. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0972262920980878

Gallup. (2019) State of the Global Workplace. 35 Employee engagement survey questions you need to ask. https://lattice.com/library/28-employee-engagement-survey-questions-you-need-to-ask May 2021

Employee engagement: 8 statistics you need to know https://blog.smarp.com/employee-engagement-8-statistics-you-need-to-know blog post. January 4, 2021

Clapon, P. The difference between employee happiness and employee engagement. https://gethppy.com/employee-engagement/the-difference-between-employee-happiness-and-employee-engagement. Blog post. September 4, 2020.

Job of the Week: Professional Aide

This week, MSU Human Resources is featuring an on-call professional aide position (posting 713836) at the department of Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

This professional aide position will act as the Program Coordinator for a new biochar Extension and outreach program. The coordinator will build a community around biochar in Michigan and in the Great Lakes region by consulting with a multidisciplinary team of researchers and Extension professionals to develop, conduct, and coordinate information and activities about biochar. The coordinator will also play a key role in improving access to regionally relevant information and strengthening connections across stakeholder groups and communication with a team. Some specific responsibilities of this position include developing and organizing the content for an online biochar resource center, conducting a social network analysis of the region to identify stakeholders and continue to follow up, developing outreach and Extension products to address all groups and stakeholders, and evaluating the effectiveness of the programming and products. See a full list of responsibilities here.

The desired qualifications and experience for this position are a Bachelor’s of Science degree and at least two years of relevant work experience. A graduate degree is preferred but not required. The candidate must prove they have experience developing outreach, educational materials, and related products and events to the above responsibilities. A prior knowledge of sustainability is also preferred. Strong oral communication, interpersonal skills, effective engagement ability, independent and collaborative work ethic, and ability to self-manage are the most important parts of a successful candidate. 

You can learn more about the position and apply here by June 30th. Find all the latest job postings at careers.msu.edu.

Job of the Week: 4-H Program Coordinator

This week, we are featuring the 4-H Program Coordinator, an offsite position looking to hire for St. Joseph, MI (posting 710500) and Hillsdale, MI (posting 709099) in the Extension of Children and Youth Department.

This full time position has duties including providing leadership for 4-H Youth programs through clubs, after school programs, youth mentoring, and school enrichment efforts. These duties are carried out by ensuring that MSU Extension Volunteer selection procedures are followed before and during programming; training and leading local volunteers to reach out to others in their communities; attending and acting in an advisory capacity for 4-H at councils and other county-wide committee meetings; leading programs based in efforts towards diversity, equity, inclusion and civil rights; working collaboratively with directors, educators and program partners to implement the education priorities of 4-H throughout the community; using program development and advisory committees to conduct needs assessments for the county and its residents; and providing leadership, management and oversight of all county related finances associated with 4-H. See a full list of responsibilities here.

The desired qualifications and experience for this position include a Bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in youth development, volunteer management skills, demonstrated knowledge and awareness of social, cultural, and economic diversity in the community in which you are looking to work, strong interpersonal and communication skills, proficiency in technology and ability to travel some long distances. To apply, you must submit a current resume or CV, a cover letter, and four (4) professional references including at least two (2) prior or current supervisors.

You can learn more about the position and apply here for St. Joseph and here for Hillsdale by June 15. Find all the latest job postings at careers.msu.edu.

Deals and Discounts for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is right around the corner, and if you are still looking to show the dad in your life that you care, look no further than these discounts! Whether it’s your dad, husband, father-in-law or any other important guy in your life, make sure to take advantage of these Father’s Day savings using MSU Benefits Plus

To access all the discounts, visit MSU Benefits Plus and sign up for a free account using your ZPID number (located on your Spartan Card ID badge or in the EBS Portal).

Check out some of these deals that you can find through MSU Benefits Plus:

Sports:

  • Forest Akers Golf Course – MSU employees with a valid MSU ID card receive reduced rates on playing and shopping at the two 18-hole championship layout golf courses and two full-service golf shops!
  • Premium Seats USA – Get 10% off sporting event tickets on Premium Seats USA using the code CORESTREAM at checkout!
  • Fan’s Edge – Get 10% off and free shipping on your fix of MSU gear as well as licensed NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL merchandise at Fan’s Edge! Use code FENCAA09 at checkout. 

Technology:

  • HP – Save between 10% and 50% using the HP Employee Purchase Program (EPP), which offers HP’s consumer products at a discounted rate! 
  • Apple – MSU employees qualify for preferred pricing on all of Apple’s latest products. This includes employee pricing and ratings and reviews on accessories and software. Order from the online Apple EPP store and identify yourself as a Corestream member when purchasing!

Shopping and Entertainment:

  • AMC Theaters – MSU employees can save over 30% on E-tickets at AMC Theaters and all associated theaters including AMC Loews, AMC Showplace, Cineplex, Odeon, Magic Johnson and Star Theaters!
  • Sam’s Club – MSU employees can save up to 40% on Sam’s Club memberships when you purchase from Tickets at Work! 1-Year Standard Memberships are $24.88 (normally $45) and 1-Year Premium Memberships are $89.88 (normally $100).

Find these savings as well as many other benefits by visiting the MSU Benefits Plus portal. Sign up or log in today and have a fun, family-filled Father’s Day.

Job of the Week: Director of High School & Community Relations

This week, we are featuring the Director of High School & Community Relations position (posting 708416) in the Intercollegiate Athletics Department. 

The goal of this position is to establish, maintain, and improve relationships between high school coaches and the Michigan State football staff. The main responsibilities of this position will be cultivating and maintaining relationships with high school administrations and staff through outreach and educational programs. Secondary responsibilities include liaising between the University and high schools, coordinating and directing marketing efforts for programs such as the MSU Coaches’ Clinics and research visits from high school coaching staffs, promoting the philosophy and objectives of intercollegiate athletics programs, and serving as the principal contact for high school coaches. See a full list of responsibilities here.

This full-time position requires a Bachelor’s degree as well as knowledge of NCAA and Big 10 regulations regarding student recruitment; a general knowledge of NCAA Football; strong interpersonal skills among a diverse group of communities; the ability to understand, follow and enforce safety procedures; the ability to demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills; a proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel; the ability to collect, compile and analyze data for reports and stats on recruits; the ability to work evenings and weekends; the ability to travel as required; and a valid driver’s license and good driving record.

You can learn more about the position and apply here by June 11. Find all the latest job postings at careers.msu.edu.

Are You Procrastinating? Increase Motivation and Take Action with These Simple Steps.

There are countless reasons to put off working on a project. Maybe you’re daunted by the size of it, or the deadline is far off, so you don’t feel urgency to get moving. Whether your procrastination is the result of perfectionism, negative thought patterns, or even boredom, there are easy changes you can make to increase your motivation and complete high-quality work without missing deadlines.

Take charge of your day

It’s easy to find excuses to not take action. I don’t have time. I’m too busy. I’ll do it later when things calm down. To move beyond procrastination, you need to take charge of your time.

  • Don’t let external demands control your time. Deadlines and mundane tasks are likely a part of your days. Take charge of your schedule.
  • Minimize interruptions. Turn off your Teams, Outlook, and text notifications if you can. Block off time on your calendar. Prioritize your tasks.
  • Ask yourself: What needs to be done now? What can wait until later?
  • Figure out and respect your preferred working methods and energy levels. Consider when you’re most productive and schedule your day accordingly.

Set small deadlines

If you sometimes feel like you’re accomplishing nothing, it may be because your idea of getting something done is too big.

  • Focus on the wins, no matter how small. Set small goals and interim deadlines throughout the day.
  • As you hit each small target, you’ll build momentum and feel motivated to strive toward the next goal.

Achieve an optimal level of positive stress

We all face stress at work — deadlines to meet, unexpected problems to solve. It may sound counterintuitive, but a little stress can be a good thing. Positive stress can give you the energy you need to stay motivated. The key is to achieve an optimal level of healthy stress.

  • Know your limits. Find a challenge you can realistically take on.
  • Don’t be complacent. Push yourself to achieve great things, one step at a time. Remember that a challenge should stretch you without breaking you.

Collaborate to stay engaged

When we pool our resources and expertise to work on a task with others, we share ideas, discuss options, and develop ideas as a team. One person’s enthusiasm might inspire you. New eyes bring new perspectives, which may help you look at a task in a new way.

  • To ensure your collaboration is effective, be sure you have a diverse group to offer different perspectives.
  • Allow some quiet space to build on the ideas that emerge.
  • Effective collaboration can be structured or informal.

Try these techniques to help you take action and leave procrastination behind, and look into these self-paced, online elevateU resources for further motivation and guidance.

Leadership Blog Series: Performance Excellence During Periods of Uncertainty and Transition

Written by MSU HR Organization and Professional Development

Whether your department plans to continue remote work, switch to a hybrid model, or bring everyone back to campus ASAP, Performance Excellence discussions likely have a different feel this year. The reality is that Performance Excellence—annual, probationary, and interim reviews, performance planning and goal setting—is very much needed despite all the recent and upcoming transitions and unknowns. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with these important discussions regardless of how and where the conversations take place.

Keep with it

Do not postpone coaching, feedback, 1-on-1 sessions, or performance reviews during this time. Our instinct may be to put off these conversations until things are “back to normal.” However, the opposite is true. Due to the highly unusual year we’ve all experienced, it’s imperative to connect with employees right now. Even in times of crisis, people still want to know that their long-term growth and success haven’t been forgotten.

Now’s an ideal time to revisit goals and keep the focus on the future. Identify opportunities, quickly communicate changes to your staff, and prepare them for potential pivots. Don’t ignore performance issues or delay accountability conversations. It’s as important as ever to address these matters as soon as possible. Put in the work now to help avoid larger issues in the future.

Establish, re-evaluate and reiterate criteria for success

Amid so many changes, consider establishing new definitions of success. Think short-term, well-defined, and task-based. Take a goal-based approach to performance measurement that focuses on clearly defined expectations and standards—for example, SMART and HARD goals or objectives and key results (OKRs)—to allow for a more flexible or task-based approach where metrics don’t exist or can be deceiving.

This is especially important when evaluating teams working from home. It is critical for those teams to focus on clearly defined outcomes and performance indicators (e.g., metrics, goals, deliverables). Don’t mistake activity and participation—such as emails, meetings, or hours on a timesheet—for high-quality, productive performance outcomes. Clear, established goals provide a straightforward way for both the supervisor and employee to truly gauge success.

Shift your perspective

As some employees remain remote and others return to the office, it’s important to re-tool our ability to read performance. Put effort into deciphering the increasingly blurry line between work and life. As one manager put it, it’s necessary to now “balance the need for flexibility that’s specific and supportive to the individual’s needs with the need to also somehow be equitable to others.” This will require effort on your part with thoughtful consideration of what your employees need as individuals and as a team.

With a few changes to our thinking and approaches, the Performance Excellence components of goal setting, performance planning and measurement can continue to benefit your employees, your team as a whole, and you as a supervisor. Visit the Performance Excellence pages on the HR website to find tips, tools and relevant forms. The Conducting Annual Performance Reviews Remotely page provides additional assistance for working with remote employees.