Happy Holidays from Human Resources

This holiday season, MSU Human Resources is sharing our holiday traditions with you. Get into the holiday spirit with family memories, matching pajamas, yummy recipes and more, all from our wonderful HR team members! 

Feel free to leave your traditions, recipes, and more in the comments to start a conversation with staff from all over MSU!

Jordan Skjaerlund — HRIT 

Favorite tradition: “My husband and I celebrate Advent from December 1 – December 24. Each day we exchange a small gift and take a picture together with the gifts each person got.”

Jeff Brodie — Benefits

Favorite tradition: “FOOD FOOD FOOD (but I have to limit carbs because of the dastardly Diabetes). Staying home on a snowy day. Seeing friends when they are available!”

A happy memory: “As a child/teenager I remember glorious Thanksgiving dinners. As a child I remember the grandparents and my aunt/uncle bringing in laundry baskets of toys (this was the 1960’s when most folks did not have a lot of money).”

Sheila Chorey — The Leave of Absence Team

Favorite tradition: “In the past, our family would select a country to research for our Christmas celebration. We would use the opportunity to try new recipes and be creative with decorations.”

Some happy memories: “For our French Christmas, we made French onion soup and duck l’orange and hung a banner that said ‘vive la france.’ When we celebrated German style, the men wore lederhosen. My favorite was the Scottish Christmas. The house was decorated in plaid, and attire consisted of kilts and plaid. It is a fun way to get everyone involved, and have the kids do a little research.”

Debbie Hafke — HRIT

Favorite tradition: “We bake sugar cookies and decorate them on Christmas Eve every year. Even though the kids are teenagers, they still leave two of the cookies out for Santa, too!”

Make Debbie’s Santa cookies with this recipe

The Hafke family baking and decorating their favorite sugar cookies for the holidays!

Danielle Hook — Organization and Professional Development (OPD)

Favorite tradition (plans): “Our son will be 18 months old this Christmas so we are most excited about starting new traditions this year!”

Sharri Margraves — OPD

Favorite tradition: “Personally, I always do the Playmakers Holiday Classic 5k and hope to not freeze to death! I cannot convince anyone else in my house to do this with me for some reason…but bundling up in festive attire makes for a good time on campus. My aunt and I both do this and then go out for breakfast.”

Sharri and her aunt preparing to run the Playmaker’s Holiday 5K!

Chris Hanna — Metrics and Data Analytics

Favorite tradition: “Cutting our Christmas tree down on Friday after Thanksgiving. The family is always geared up to do it. However once we get out there it becomes a challenge to make a decision. Everyone has their own opinion of what tree to get. When you think you have found ‘The Tree’ and point it out. You hear from the others: that’s too short or too tall, or too skinny or too fat. Or someone says ‘are you kidding me, that’s the ugliest tree I’ve ever seen, Charlie Brown wouldn’t even want that one.’ But eventually we always find a tree that we enjoy through the holiday season.”

A happy memory: “Cutting our tree down Friday after Thanksgiving started our first year of marriage. We cut down a modest size tree, brought it home, set it up and realized we didn’t have nearly enough ornaments. So I got up early the next morning and decorated it with vacuum cleaner attachments from a shop vac and regular house vac. which were colored gray and light blue (as opposed to generally being black). I thought it was pretty clever and creative. Kathy (my wife) did not… Hence we went ornament shopping.”

Donna Duck — Academic Operations

Favorite traditions: “Going to cut down our Christmas tree with the family. Favorite movie – The Santa Clause movies and Polar Express. Family matching pajamas!”

A happy memory: “I had done matching pajamas one year as a one time thing. The following year, when my son found out that I didn’t have new pajamas he was very upset with me. So, what did I do? Some last minute shopping of course. I was able to find some pajamas at the last minute and saved our new tradition. We have done it every year since!”

The Duck family in matching pajamas in front of their freshly cut and decorated Christmas tree!
Happy Holidays to the entire MSU family! We are wishing you a season full of friends, family, and delicious sugar cookies!

Give at MSU this Giving Tuesday and Throughout the Holiday Season

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as Giving Tuesday, and Michigan State wants to support you in your service this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to encourage people to give back. It’s now a global movement that inspires millions of people around the world to collaborate for good and celebrate generosity.

Sign up now to serve with your fellow Spartans in states like Texas, Indiana, and Minnesota through Serve MSU. Join the tradition that is already 14,000 Spartans strong and has raised over $1 million and spent 61,000 hours volunteering, all since 2013.

You can also serve the local community this Giving Tuesday by supporting Spartan impact projects such as campus sustainability, diversity research, and veterans resources. All of these campus initiatives and more can be found here.

To give over the phone, call (517) 884-1000. You can also email University Advancement at uadv.msuannualfund@msu.edu with any questions about Giving Tuesday or service throughout the year.

Celebrate Giving Tuesday however it works for you and your loved ones. Make someone’s day brighter with a smile, help out a neighbor or stranger, or get involved in a cause about which you are passionate.

This Giving Tuesday, find the service project or need that is perfect for you and give what you can. Spartans Will… give back to the community!

Don’t forget your Health Care FSA Funds this Holiday Season

Are you looking for more ways to save money this holiday season? If you have a health care FSA for the 2021 plan year with funds still available, you can save an average of 30% by using pre-tax dollars on eligible expenses. While you still have some time to use 2021 FSA funds in the new year, it’s a good idea to think about your expenses now so you can maximize how you’ll spend any remaining balance.

Consider the following ways your FSA could benefit you and your family this holiday season. Whether you’d like to reduce holiday stress or prepare for New Year’s resolutions, your health care FSA can help. All items listed below are from the FSA Store, which means you can shop worry-free knowing everything is automatically an eligible expense.

Before you place an order, be sure to check out the FSA Store’s monthly coupons and promo codes for additional savings. If you have any questions about your FSA, please contact MSU’s benefit provider HealthEquity/Wageworks directly at 877-924-3967. You can learn more about FSAs on the HR website.

Job of the Week: Clerical Aide

This week’s featured job from MSU HR is a Clerical Aide support staff position (posting 748383) in the Department of Human Resources through MSU Administration.

The selected candidate will work in a temporary, on-call position providing clerical support such as secretarial, receptionist, bookkeeping, and informational processing duties. The top priority will be managing mail. This on-call work can be for the MSU College of Human Medicine and the College of Osteopathic Medicine. On call workers can not work more than 520 hours in any six (6) month period. For a complete list of responsibilities and hour restrictions, click here.

The position is completely on-site at the East Lansing Human Resources Office and will work directly with the MSU Human Resources Solutions Center.

Learn more about the Department of Human Resources at https://hr.msu.edu/. Read more about the position and learn how to apply as soon as possible here. The application will close when the position is filled. All the latest job postings can be found at careers.msu.edu.

Leadership Blog Series: Happiness, Well-Being and Psychological Wealth

Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for Organization and Professional Development

Am I happy?

How do I know if someone is happy?

What can I do to influence the happiness of others?

Happiness is subjective — each of us has our own vision of what happiness means to us. The many definitions of happiness and the different topics connected to it can lead us to more questions than answers. As such, is it worth your time as a leader to consider whether your employees are happy and take action to increase happiness within your team?

Happiness and Well-Being

Let’s consider the relationship between happiness and well-being. Happiness is a component of well-being; it can exist without well-being, but well-being can’t exist without happiness.

Happiness contributes toward health and longevity, which can be measured with a number of physiological tests including immune system strength, plaque build-up, and healthier behaviors such as a propensity toward physical activity or wearing a seatbelt.

As a supervisor, this is worth noting as happy employees can lead to lower healthcare costs, fewer sick days, lower turnover, and greater productivity and creativity.

Happiness and Psychological Wealth

Dr. Ed Diener, recognized as an expert on Subjective Well-Being (SWB), posits that being happy provides psychological wealth, stating, “Psychological wealth is your true total net worth, and includes your attitudes toward life, social support, spiritual development, material resources, health, and the activities in which you engage.”

SWB is good for work, families and society as a whole, but it’s important to note SWB doesn’t replace workplace basics: flexibility, respect, having the right tools, knowing the goals…these are all still contributors toward one’s psychological wealth.

Happiness in the Workplace

What brings someone happiness may change over time. Fulfillment in your early 20s often looks different than in your retirement years. What was most critical such as family and employment may eventually transition to health and leisure.

Regardless of where your employees are in their professional and personal journeys, there are key ways you can create an environment that supports their happiness and well-being.

  1. Empower employees to craft their jobs. Provide training and build relationships that are connected to a purpose. Do your employees know how what they do serves the greater good? Can you honor flexibility in working conditions? Research has shown flexibility can contribute to reduced turnover and physical and mental health improvements.
  2. Honor core organizational values and encourage employees to define their own personal core values. While we each have our own core values, organizational values that are practiced, observed, and honored foster happier employees.
  3. Ask employees for help in problem solving workplace issues — then actually implement the improvements to reduce stress and help retain employees.
  4. Foster social belonging. Each work environment has its own microcultures but recognizing each other should be a regular feature. Leading with kudos — both internal and external — can foster happiness and well-being by building positive relationships.
  5. Think positive. Self-sabotaging a positive mindset affects you personally, but as a leader, it also has the added impact of influencing others. You are worthy of success and adequate. You can do hard things. When you feel the need to lament on something — and let’s face it, we all have our moments — be sure you are reaching out to a neutral party to vent or process.
  6. Build healthy habits. From stretch breaks to healthy snack choices, lean into fostering a healthy environment by engaging with Health4U and other resources for MSU staff and faculty. Below are a few ideas to help you get started.

Recommended Resources

Mental Health Matters: Resources from MSU

Compassionate Leadership: Awareness of Mental Health Needs as the Pandemic Continues

Recognizing and Managing Stress During Times of Change


Diener, E., Diener-Biswas, R., Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth (Blackwell, 2008). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdxbmVbr3NY

Kelly, L., Berkman, L., Kubzanksky, L., Lovejoy, M. (2021). 7 Strategies to improve your employees’ health and well-being. https://hbr.org/2021/10/7-strategies-to-improve-your-employees-health-and-well-being

Recognize World Diabetes Day with Livongo

World Diabetes Day was November 14 and MSU HR is here to remind you that if you are living with diabetes, Linvongo can help. 

Livongo is a diabetes management program offered completely free to MSU employees and their spouses/dependents. The Livongo program aims to reduce the burden on those living with diabetes by offering technology and support to help members easily manage their health.

You can enroll for Livongo at any time and it takes less than 10 minutes to sign up. Once you register, you will receive a welcome kit in the mail. The kit contains your own Livongo connected meter, unlimited testing strips, a lancing device, lancets, a carrying case, and optional coaching by a healthcare professional. 

One of the first to enroll in Livongo was Jeff Brodie, a Management Analyst for MSU Human Resources, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011. Here’s what Jeff had to say about his experience using Livongo: “There is nothing to lose at all, and everything to gain. Even if you sign up and do the [minimum], you will be healthier than if you didn’t sign up at all.” You can read more about Jeff’s experience using Livongo in this previous HR blog post.

To learn more about using your free Livongo benefit, visit the Livongo for Diabetes Management webpage. If you have questions or are ready to sign up, visit the Livongo website. 

Recognize World Diabetes Day with Livongo and find more testimonials like Jeff’s here! Do you have your own experience with Livongo? We’d love to hear in the comments below or email us at hrcommteam@hr.msu.edu.

Job of the Week: Service Manager I

This week’s featured job from MSU Human Resources is a Service Manager I support staff position (posting 747245) for the Department of Food Stores in the Office of Residential and Hospitality Services.

The selected candidate will work full time overseeing the Food Stores warehouse and any customer service functions for MSU Bakers and Food Store products. Special duties include, but are not limited to, interviewing, training, and scheduling student employees, resolving service complaints and preparing and overseeing operational documents. They will monitor day to day safety operations, coordinate pest control visits, and ensure state, federal, and locals procedures are being followed. For a complete list of responsibilities, click here

Applicants interested in this role must have the knowledge normally acquired in the first two or three years of college, technical or vocational school, or a field related to the area of food stores. They should also have one to three years of related experience in supervising operational activities. An equivalent combination of education and experience will also be considered for the position. The desired qualifications include supervisory experience in warehouse operations, supervising unionized employees, warehouse management software, and Microsoft Office. Heavy consideration will be given to candidates that are HACCP and Servesafe certified, but it is not required. 
Learn more about the Department of Food Stores at http://food.rhs.msu.edu/. Read more about the position and learn how to apply by November 23 here. All the latest job postings can be found at careers.msu.edu.

Take Action Now to Reduce End-of-the-Year Stress

Ready or not, November is already well underway. When you think about the remainder of 2021, how do you feel? If thoughts of work deadlines, family get-togethers, or planning for the holidays and new year ahead have you feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are practices and resources we can utilize to help us center ourselves and approach this time of year with a healthier mindset.

Consider Your Sphere of Influence

We all know allowing worry to grow uninhibited can lead to a number of negative consequences, be it with our health, work performance, or relationships. So, why do we allow our minds to spend so much time in a state of worry? In a previous blog post, Jennie Yelvington, Director of MSU Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs, discussed how worry can seem very active — spending time in that mindset can feel like you are working on something productive — but in reality, you are burning through energy that could be better spent.

When you notice yourself worrying about what might happen, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do about it now?” One way to visualize this is the Sphere of Influence.

Graphic representing one's sphere of influence. Three circles are centered on top of each other. The smallest circle in the middle represents "control," the next biggest circle represents "possible influence but no control," and the largest circle represents "no control."

Within the Sphere, there are three areas:

  • No Control. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to change or influence a situation, you can only assess whether you can learn from it, then let it go and refocus on something else. This would apply to things like the weather, supply chain issues this season, or flight cancelations. To reduce feelings of worry and improve your well-being, spend minimal time and energy regarding any matters that fall within this area of the Sphere.
  • Possible Influence but No Control. If there is a step you can take that may influence an outcome, person, or situation, determine what action you can take to maximize that influence, follow through, and then let it go. Resist the temptation to convince yourself that worrying about it means it is within your control.
  • Control. If the issue you are wrestling with is completely within your control, then you have control over your decisions, attitude, and behavior. What action can you take that you’ve been putting off? What self-care practice can you initiate to support your well-being? When you practice shifting your focus and attention to what is within your control rather than allowing what is out of your control to consume your time and thoughts, feelings of helplessness and overwhelm decrease significantly.

Make Yourself a Priority

When asked why we don’t make our well-being a higher priority, the most common answer is: not enough time. Although we can’t add more hours to the day (No Control area of the Sphere of Influence), we can take actionable steps to better manage our time and carve out space to improve our overall wellness (Control area of the Sphere).

Here are a few ideas to help you focus your energy on areas you can control when it comes to your well-being this time of year.

  • Schedule downtime. Block downtime off on your Outlook calendar like you would for a meeting or other work engagement.
  • Be selective. Most of us have an extraordinary number of demands on our time lately. This time of year often brings on even more. Before you commit to anything additional, give yourself a little time to consider: do I really need to do this right now?
  • Get back to the basics. Consider your current relationship with sleep, physical activity, and eating. What are one or two simple steps you could take to improve your physical health? Even something as small as not having your cellphone next to your bed at night or scheduling short blocks of time on your calendar to stretch at your desk can have a tremendous impact. Ensuring your basic, physical needs are met helps ensure a solid foundation for all aspects of your well-being.

Utilize Your Resources

One major goal within MSU’s new strategic plan is to support the “well-being of staff, faculty and postdoctoral research associates at MSU, focusing on creating a best-in-class workplace culture and environment in which excellence and opportunity thrive.” From one-on-one counseling to self-paced learning opportunities, many resources are available to you as an MSU employee to improve your well-being and take care of yourself this year and beyond. Recommendations to get you started are listed below, along with contact information for specialists at MSU who can provide extra support.

Health4U Programs | Register online for free courses including Chair Yoga, Increasing Your Psychological Flexibility, and Understanding Shame and Building Shame Resilience. Health4U also provides a wealth of online resources regarding emotional wellness, food and nutrition, and health coaching.

The Power of Habit Virtual Course | Next offered via Zoom on February 16, and April 13, 2022. Registration is available in EBS.

elevateU | Free, self-paced resources including short videos, online courses and books around a wide variety of topics. Highlighted topics include:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) | Free, confidential counseling for all faculty, staff, retirees, graduate student employees, and their families.

WorkLife Office | Find affinity groups, webinars, and personalized support to help you facilitate success in your many roles and guide you in creating synergy between those responsibilities.

2021 Gliozzo Clerical Technical Award Recipient Announced

Congratulations to Jamie Lake, the recipient of this year’s Clerical-Technical Recognition Award!

The Clerical-Technical Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Concettina Gliozzo Endowment Fund and recognizes outstanding clerical-technical employees. Jamie was selected for the award this year because of her outstanding work as a Secretary II staff member in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. She is known to take her job seriously and care about professionalism while also showing empathy and support for everyone around her. 

Jamie was nominated for this award by Jill Cruth, the Academic Coordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, who, along with many other staff and faculty in the department, shared kind words and great examples of why she deserves to be recognized. A few of these examples include how this past year, when a co-worker in the Fisheries and Wildlife Office got sick, Jamie took on even more responsibility; and when a visiting scholar from Nigeria seemed homesick, Jamie decorated her office to make her feel at home and welcomed at MSU. 

Jamie is also involved in the community, especially with her church’s youth programs and her passion for nature, which fits her role perfectly in Fisheries and Wildlife. She has cleaned up trash in the Great Lakes and is raising pheasants to release into the wild with the goal of raising the population of the endangered species. 

Jamie is a problem solver who acts on issues without being asked. This great attribute to the department has resulted in an updated and more frequent social media presence, rewards for surveys conducted by faculty members, and even a new protocol for quickly and efficiently teaching faculty and student employees about the office systems. 

Jamie had this to say about winning the prestigious award: 

“I am humbled to accept the Gliozzo CT award. Winning this award recognizes [that] the support I provide is genuinely appreciated by my colleagues and I am thankful to each one of them. I’m super grateful to be working in the Fisheries and Wildlife department, with the most amazing faculty, staff, and students.”

Congratulations Jamie for your incredible work in your department and at Michigan State!

Providing Reasonable Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities and Working with Pregnant Employees

Employees with disabilities, who would like to request accommodations in their work environment, have a great resource in the Office of Employee Relations (OER). Academic Specialist, Dr. Julie DeGraw (degrawju@msu.edu), leads and coordinates the accommodation process. The accommodation process empowers units and employees with disabilities to do their best work by establishing timely and reasonable accommodation plans that follow the Michigan State University Disability and Reasonable Accommodation Policy

Employees begin the process by registering with the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD). Once RCPD determines that the employee fits the criteria of having a disability, they will be referred to OER/Dr. DeGraw to complete the interactive process. Dr. DeGraw will meet with both the employee and the supervisor/unit to review and gather input about the employee’s essential duties and the requested accommodations.   

The employee, or OER on behalf of the employee, may ask units for temporary accommodations until the accommodations process is complete. These temporary accommodations are only in place while the employee is going through the process and may not be approved beyond a temporary time frame. If the unit has any questions or concerns about providing such a temporary accommodation, it should contact OER/Dr. DeGraw.  

Employees who experience an impairment related to pregnancy or childbirth (for example, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia) that substantially impacts their work may also qualify as having a disability or a temporary disability. Reasonable accommodations may need to be provided. Please refer any employee seeking accommodations related to pregnancy or childbirth to OER/Dr. DeGraw. Additional helpful information regarding pregnancy discrimination and reasonable accommodations can be reviewed at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Please let us know if the Office of Employee Relations (HR.ER@msu.edu) can help in any way to support you and your employees.