Open Forum Overview
July 23, 2013 Open Forum (McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute)
- EEP Support for Professional Certification Programs
- Brown's Efforts to Assist Central Falls
- Job Performance in the Context of New Technology
- Parking On Street Leased Daytime Spaces
- Holiday Bazaar
August 20, 2013 Open Fourm (Conference Room 1113, 121 South Main Street)
- Role/Value of Staff
- Term Position Support
- Workday Financials
- Enhanced Communication with Staff
- Performance Appraisals
- Upcoming Strategic Plan
- Staff Labor Shortages
Open Forum Notes
This issue was raised through the forum registration form. Currently, the EEP (Employee Education Program) does not cover professional certification training. Since any expansion of the EEP will increase program costs – which are fully supported with University funds – suggestions to expand the program must be carefully considered. The last expansion occurred two years ago when the program was expanded to cover distance learning on-line courses offered by degree granting accredited colleges and universities. This was in direct response to requests from a number of staff. Recently, several members of SAC raised the possibility of further expansion to cover professionall certification programs with Judy Nabb, Manager of the Center for Learning and Professional Development (CLPD). Judy agreed to explore the issue further, including the possibility of finding other ways to provide financial support for professional certification training. SAC plans to meet with Judy again in September to continue the discussion in the context of CLPD’s recent staff training needs assessment survey.
For more information on the EEP, please visit http://brown.edu/about/administration/human-resources/benefits/education....
This issue was raised through the forum registration form. PAUR reached out to several areas that frequently assist the RI community and learned the following:
- Annenberg is currently working with Central Falls Public Schools in two capacities. Since 2010-11 our researcher, in collaboration with a team at the Education Alliance, has studied the implementation and outcomes of the school transformation process at Central Falls High School. And for the next three years we will evaluate "We Are a Village", an early learning initiative that's funded through USDOE's Investing in Innovation (I3) program.
- The Swearer Center has a relationship with Central Falls, and this year had an "Access Scholar" working in the schools to help with college access issues.
- The Education Department/MAT's Brown Summer High School has a long standing partnership with Central Falls (and Providence). Many CF high school students attended our 5-week half-day summer program with tuition waiver.
This topic was a major focus of the forum. Various staff members raised concern about having their productivity with new technology "tracked" and having supervisors who don't appreciate the learning curve associated with using new technology (e.g. Workday Financials). These staff are concerned that they may be penalized for appearing to be less productive while learning to use the new technology, even though they feel confident that their performance will improve as they become more familiar with the new system(s).The group identified best practices for addressing concerns about job performance including the following suggestions for addressing changes in performance:
- When possible, try to address concerns about your performance as soon as you realize there might be an issue.
- If you’re comfortable, start a dialogue with your manager/supervisor about your perception of the current working situation. You might, for example, explain that you are on a learning curve and ask about the best time to schedule yourself to attend the available training opportunities so that you can become more comfortable and more proficient with new job functions.
- If you need assistance in preparing for the conversion, make an appointment with Human Resources to discuss the issue and to get advice about how to approach your manager/supervisor.
- If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of discussing this topic with your manager/supervisor or with Human Resources, you could consider contacting Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg, the University's Ombudsperson. She can help you prepare to have this type of conversation. (See below for link to website.)
- Seek mentoring relationships with other trusted staff members. Asking for advice from people in roles similar to yours or your manager’s/supervisor’s could prove useful.
If it appears that technology changes may result in changes to your job, whether these are minor changes to your position description or significant change that could mean the elimination of your position, the steps outlined above are still recommended. In addition, consider contacting Human Resources for help with updating your resume and to learn about the process for applying for other positions at Brown. Finally, try to remain positive and productive at work. The Faculty/Staff Assistance Program provides resources in a number of areas, including managing stress at work and at home. (See below for link to website.)
- The Ombuds Office provides an independent, confidential, neutral and informal resource for faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows and associates, and graduate students. The Ombuds Office offers an alternative, informal, safe place to be heard and begin to discuss any workplace concerns 'off the record.' To learn more about the Ombuds Office, please visit the website http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/ombudsperson/
- The Faculty/Staff Assistance Program offered through the Wellness Corporation can be reached by visiting http://www.wellnessworklife.com. For first time usage, you will need to register and create a personal username and password within the Wellness website. Please use the word “BROWN” for the company name. If you are calling by telephone at 1-800-828-6025 to speak with a specialist, please indicate that you are covered by “Brown.”
- Problem Resolution Process: http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/human-resources/policies/probl...
- Policy on Involuntary Termination: http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/human-resources/policies/invol...
Staff expressed concern that the newly created on street parking spaces have had a particularly negative impact on hourly employees. Because these employees now have to park further away from their buildings, it takes longer to move their cars so they have to punch-out and punch-in rather than move their cars on their breaks. This has created a real hardship, especially since buying a parking pass isn’t feasible for many of these employees. At the same time, some have felt forced to buy a parking pass which feels like a $450 pay cut.
There was also a question of what will happen once it snows and there is a parking ban on the street. Staff also expressed concerns about the parking lots being used by students, visitors, etc. who don’t have a parking pass. This creates a problem when a staff member goes to their assigned lot and doesn’t have a space they paid for. Should this happen, please report it to the Transportation Office immediately.
Only staff and faculty are eligible for On Street Leased Daytime Parking spaces. For further information on parking rates and applications, please visit http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/transportation/parking/parking....
Staff who attended the forum suggested several improvements to the current system:
- Tiered rates of parking fees based on earnings (similar to the child care model)
- Space sharing
- The current “3-strike” ticket rule unfairly affects staff members that remain at Brown for 10, 20, 25+ years because the clock never resets. It was suggested that the policy should take this into account, and should allow for re-setting the strikes against after a certain number of years.
A parking committee that included staff evaluated several of these ideas before implementation but decided against them for a variety of reasons. SAC will pass these ideas on to Transportation again for consideration as part of their evaluation of the first year of operating these new parking spaces.
If you do acquire a parking ticket, you may make an appointment online to appeal it with the Parking Appeals Board. For more information about the appeals process, please visit http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/transportation/parking/parking....
Several staff asked if the Holiday Bazaar could be brought back because it provided a sense of community and is still missed by some staff. This event, which ended a few years ago, was organized by HR and provided a venue for staff to sell food, crafts, art, etc. It was held in Sayles Hall during the holiday season.
It is not likely to be brought back in its original form for two reasons. First, it used to take place on a weekday during work time so essentially staff were making money at the bazaar while they were getting paid to work for Brown. Secondly, there was no quality control for the products being sold, i.e. no way to ensure that food was being stored at a safe temperature or that something was solidly crafted.
Possible resolution: It may be possible to bring the bazaar back after work hours, for example, 5-7 p.m. during the week or sometime on the weekend. The group at the forum was split between which of these suggested time frames they would prefer. Perhaps further investigation should be undertaken to determine community interest in bringing this event back.
Other events that provide an opportunity for staff to come together are the BEAR Day reception and Staff Development Day. Also, SAC hosts an Ice Cream Social every September that usually coincides with the first Farmers Market of the semester, and the Staff Holiday Party may continue this December. SAC also hosts after-work networking opportunities and lunch-time sessions. Look for details on our website (www.brown.edu/SAC) and via Morning Mail announcements.
It was noted that staff play a crucial role in ensuring the University’s success, but staff do not always feel as valued as faculty and students. Brown is excellent at planning for and meeting the needs of faculty and students, but staff feel left out in many instances. For example, staff are not included in the University’s mission statement. Some points that were raised include:
- Understand the President’s view of staff and their role in the University.
- Enhance manager and University administrators’ knowledge of how much and what staff do in their day-to-day jobs.
- Increase recognition for staff’s contributions.
- Staff are recruited to serve on a variety of University committees, such as Human Resources Advisory Board (HRAB), University Resource Council (URC), and the Diversity Advisory Board. SAC is working to compile a complete list of these committees for reference.
Participants noted the difficult position in which staff who operate under grant funds typically find themselves - upon the grant ending, the staff member no longer has a job. What opportunities exist for staff who have an excellent skill set that may be useful elsewhere on campus?
- Brown likes to hire internally when there is a strong skills match.
- When a grant funded staff member knows his/her position will be coming to an end, s/he should reach out to their HR Generalist to learn about available positions that may match their skills and experience.
- HR Generalists can help ensure that application materials (e.g. cover letters and resumes) are effective and can work with hiring managers to ensure that they fully review an internal candidate’s background, skills, and experience.
The implementation of Workday Financials was discussed at length, particularly the difficulty some areas continue to have both with obtaining the information they need and getting assistance with challenging tasks. Staff expressed anxiety and frustration about using tools that they do not feel they have been fully prepared or trained to use. Some important discussion points included:
- Workday HCM (Human Capital Management, i.e. HR/Payroll) and Workday Financials were implemented to replace antiquated systems that were nearing the end of their usefulness. Workday will result in improved information for decision-making and compliance; will provide additional functionality not available through our prior systems; and will improve self-service and workflow for all system users.
- There is a difference between Workday HCM and Workday Financials in that HCM is a more mature product. Financials functionality is newer and is still being developed for use in higher ed.
- Staff, particularly those experiencing issues with Workday Financials, are encouraged to remain in communication with the Workday Project Team to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed. It is likely if one staff member has a specific issue, another also is struggling with that same issue.
- Attend scheduled meetings/trainings and participate in open labs.
- A suggestion was made to follow the lead of Workday HCM by offering post-go-live “Lessons Learned” sessions for those with Workday Financials security roles.
- Other ideas should be emailed to email@example.com.
- A great deal of information regarding Workday functionality can be found on the Workday website and in the weekly communications that are sent to staff with Workday roles.
Communication in any large organization is challenging. How does Brown ensure information is distributed to everyone who needs it? President Paxson named improved communication with staff as a topic she would like to see SAC tackle. The University already has several leadership group meetings in place to help disseminate crucial information (for example: Administrative Leadership, Department Managers), but not everyone in attendance passes that information on to their departments. SAC also receives good information from senior administrators that should be communicated to the campus more effectively. Some thoughts and ideas discussed include:
- Contacting specific areas directly with questions is useful.
- The Benefits Office usually is great at answering questions directed to them.
- Individuals who bring concerns to SAC typically get questions answered by senior administrators.
- Brown bag lunches on specific topics of concern (an example was flexible spending accounts) are very useful.
- Continuation of University discussions and planning to ensure staff have a voice in decision-making.
- Other ideas should be forwarded to SAC@brown.edu.
Participants noted a couple of concerns regarding performance appraisals. One was the perceived lack of correlation between one’s annual appraisal rating and increase (or lack thereof) in pay. Others questioned how many staff qualify for the highest rating (“Consistently Exceeds Expectations”). Additional points included:
- Staff performance appraisals are governed by HR Policy 40.042 (“Merit Increases and Performance Appraisals”).
- It is important to discuss performance expectations with your manager and inquire as to what s/he wants to see in order to achieve a top ranking.
The University will roll out the plan in September and October, and SAC will be among the groups to review the plans directly with senior administrators. Information about the plan can be found on the Brown University Strategic Planning website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/
What is being done to help with staff labor shortages? Since the economic downturn and organizational review process, some areas continue to feel short staffed and overwhelmed by the volume of work and implementation of new systems/policies.
Staff who are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work in their unit should discuss this issue with their supervisor or department manager. They are usually in the best position to make changes to streamline or redistribute work in order to reduce the burden on individual staff members. The staff in Human Resources can provide assistance on these efforts. Please contact your HR Generalist for more information.