After completing the first three phases of Be Heard (Phase 1: Personal Resilience, Phase 2: Leadership Foundations, Phase 3: Innovation and Change Management), Be Heard participants were charged with proposing initiatives to improve the working lives of staff and faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and have a positive impact on students.
Participants brainstormed in small groups to propose a variety of potential initiatives, which were then presented to the group as a whole. Each participant was asked to vote for the three initiatives most important to them. Five initiatives in the spring of 2019 won the majority of votes:
Participants self-selected to serve on an initiative team, and each team was asked to select two co-captains. Teams were then assigned a Be Heard liaison to provide support as teams navigate the proposal process.
Teams are currently in the process of defining and researching their initiatives in order to craft a proposal to present to college leadership, the college staff and faculty at large, and other key stakeholders. Each initiative varies in complexity and scope, so teams are at varying stages in the proposal process.
The goal of these proposals is not only to present changes for adoption and implementation by the college leadership and community, but also to provide the College of Arts and Sciences staff and faculty a vehicle to discuss issues that impact the college work environment and the subsequent service provided to students.
Throughout the proposal process, there will be opportunities for the college community to engage with the Be Heard change initiative teams and provide feedback. We will issue communications about these opportunities as they arise.
(Re)Defining Office Coverage
The (Re)Defining Office Coverage team is tasked with proposing policies and best practices around office closure and coverage for the College of Arts and Sciences. The driving assumption underlying this initiative is that College of Arts and Sciences staff are devoted to supporting students and faculty and providing office coverage to meet student needs. Effectively supporting students and faculty includes recognizing that we also need to support staff by enabling staff to close offices in order to engage in professional development opportunities and under certain circumstances, such as during low-traffic periods, inclement weather. By (re)defining what office coverage could look like, we seek to identify opportunities for staff to use accrued leave in periods when core business hours are not essential to the operation of the office or the delivery of student needs. We recognize that external conditions have changed and our services are no longer only provided in person. Often, now, we are able to respond to student needs and maintain business continuity through multifaceted communication methods (e.g., phone, email, zoom, websites, other office referrals). In addition to creating best practices, our group will develop ideas for consistent communications around closure, how coverage may look during office closure, who students can contact with urgent needs, templates for door signs, out-of-office emails.
Faculty/Staff Relationships at CU Boulder
Recent initiatives and events have generated interest in and discussions about faculty/staff relations within the College of Arts and Sciences. By all indications, there is room for improvement. Our Be Heard subgroup was formed around this theme and is working to develop an action plan to enhance communication, instill confidence, and provide feedback on faculty/staff relations within the college.
Results of the campus-wide 2017 employee engagement survey indicated that “... faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences showed less satisfaction, engagement and confidence—compared to the CU system and to the CU Boulder campus—in each of 11 measures: affinity, career growth, compliance, department head, engagement, executive leadership, innovation, pay and benefits, quality, supervisor/chair and teamwork.” Late in 2018, reaction to the College of Arts and Sciences Strategic Plan was captured through a Staff Advisory Committee response to the plan and in a concurrent survey of staff. Results highlighted staff and student interest in having a stronger role in planning initiatives that affect all members of the college. A subsequent Be Heard initiative sponsored by the college provided a forum for further discussion and brainstorming. A consensus formed around the desire for more inclusion of staff voices, representation and equity in the college.
Equity of College of Arts and Sciences Staff Salaries
The ultimate goal of the "Equity of College of Arts and Sciences Staff Salaries" initiative is to identify the inequities of salaries for Arts and Sciences staff relative to other schools and units within CU Boulder and glean an understanding of the classification standards and how they impact staff compensation and ratios. To this end, our committee will gather data from the College of Arts and Sciences, the CU Boulder Staff Engagement Survey and reach out to Campus Human Resources for an explanation of the classifications and compensations set to better understand the reasons behind this problem. Once the committee has this information, we will deliver our findings to the Dean’s Staff Advisory Council, CU Staff Council and those individuals tasked with working on the College reorganization.
Be SEEN: Staff Training and Mentoring
A need for improved staff training and job resources in the College of Arts & Sciences was identified in the 2017 Fall Engagement Survey. This Be Heard initiative—Better Engaged Staff through Effective, Efficient Networking, or BE SEEN—will address these needs. This initiative will engage and support college staff as valuable members of the CU Boulder community by providing greater accessibility for staff connection and networking, establishing formalized training and position resources, and investing in professional development opportunities. The goals of BE SEEN are to increase job satisfaction, bolster retention, enhance productivity and promote supportive, collaborative and sustainable working environments for all staff in the College of Arts and Sciences. An enduring investment in these formalized structures will help college staff succeed in their positions and ensure that college goals are met.
Flexible Schedules and Work from Home
In the Fall of 2017, an employee engagement survey was distributed to all faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences. The survey found that, while employees are often proud of the work they do, they are often underpaid and overworked. At a time of change in the way employees perform their work and an increased competition for the recruitment and retention of qualified employees, it was determined by a task force that increasing Work Flex options—like Flexible Schedules and Work from Home—would be a cost-effective way to address employee concerns and empower local unit individual unit leadership to:
Thus, letting local leadership identify and accommodate their own employment needs while still meeting those of the university and students. As well, this proposal serves to put parameters around the campus’s existing “Alternate Schedules and Work from Home” policy.