Washington State University: No standing Friday meetings becomes standard following survey feedback

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Based on feedback from the 2022 Work‑Life Balance Survey, Washington State University is incorporating the no standing meetings on Fridays pilot program into its standard practices.

The university is also encouraging all units and departments to start meetings at the top of the hour and ensure that they last no longer than 45 minutes whenever possible. Doing so will help to alleviate concerns among employees about constant back-to-back meetings, particularly with the prevalent use of video meeting platforms such as Zoom that eliminate needing to physically travel from one location to another. The concerns over back-to-back meetings were commonly expressed in response to Human Resource Services’ Work‑Life Balance Survey conducted in April.

HRS is encouraging further changes — including avoiding sending emails, texts and messages to employees during off‑hours and implementing no‑camera or camera-optional meetings — in response to survey results.

“When asked to help make Washington State University the most supportive and efficient employer possible, our faculty and staff brought forward thoughtful suggestions and feedback,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said. “The insights and willingness to share practical and innovative suggestions based on their own experiences and those of their colleagues are helping us reshape a work culture built on a collective desire to see WSU continue to grow.”

Department and unit leaders are also being asked to consider several other steps to support employee’s well‑being in response to survey results:

Support flexible and hybrid work schedules
Evaluate the necessity of existing meetings
Create agendas for meetings and setting time limits for presentations
Communicate when payroll lock days are occurring
Limit events, meetings and additional tasks to administrative and fiscal support staff responsible for data, time and payroll entries at least one day before payroll lock days
Support and encourage staff professional development
Limit non‑essential meetings between noon and 1 p.m.
Nearly 11,000 active faculty and staff received the 2022 Work‑Life Balance Survey in April, yielding more than 2,000 responses for a response rate of 18.73%. More than 1,100 comments were receive and reviewed by HRS staff. The subject of comments ranged from working schedules and teleworking to recruitment and retention efforts to compensation and benefits.

HRS has committed to addressing many of the concerns raised by employees, Theresa Elliot‑Cheslek, vice president and chief human resource officer, said.

“The feedback we received as part of this survey will be instrumental in guiding our efforts in the months and years to come,” Elliot‑Cheslek said. “Our employees are the best resource we have for making WSU a place where people want to come and work as well as where they want to stay long‑term.”

The department is working to increase wellness and mental health information, training and resources, as well as enhancing the learning management system. It’s also implemented a pilot hiring and referral incentive program, which allows current employees to receive up to $1,000 in bonus payments for referring candidates to hard-to-fill positions and gives departments the option of offering a one‑time lump sum payment to someone hired to fill a difficult vacancy. Both of these pilot programs are scheduled to run through June 2023.

HRS has also hired new recruitment specialists to assist in outreach and recruitment efforts, as well as a learning and organizational development specialists. Staff are also reviewing methods of streamlining working and the employee recruitment process. The department has also implemented an enhanced compensation plan for administrative professionals, establishing a process for evaluating a range of performance factors to bring pay equity and consistency across the WSU system.

Moving forward, HRS is exploring further ways to enhance the WSU employee experience. Among these are looking at parking costs, commuting options, employee child care options, tuition waivers for online courses, tuition waivers for family of employees, and compensation. Schulz has said in recent months that employee compensation remains the university’s top legislative priority.

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