Well Ways to Work from Home:
Create a Commute
It’s great not having to drive to work. But creating a commute could help you get your remote work day started well. Do a little stretching during the time you would have been driving. Go for a brisk (or leisurely) walk. Take time on the patio with your coffee and enjoy nature. Listen to some music while you get your mind in gear for the day’s tasks. More helpful tips about “working well” from home can be found in this article by Elizabeth Millard in Everyday Health.
Financial well-being tips in troubling times: Keep it simple. Dave Ramsey suggests you always focus first on the “four walls” (food, shelter, utilities, transportation). Once you have those bases covered, try to save towards your emergency fund. Prioritize and pay other bills. This might not be the best time for your debt repayment plan. Don’t forget about your retirement savings. But first – make sure you have what you need for your day to day. And – from Dave’s blog: here’s 25 Free Things to Do with Kids during this time, by Rachel Cruze.
Other tips: Learn more about meditation’s health benefits in this article from Healthline.
More of every dollar you contribute stays in your account to help you save for retirement – fees have been reduced by 15%!
Fees cover the cost of program recordkeeping and other services, are based on your account balance, and are charged monthly per participant, per account.
New lower fees for the Texa$aver program starting May 1, 2020:
NEW MONTHLY FEE
$1,000.00 or less
$1,000.01 to $16,000.00
$16,000.01 to $32,000.00
$32,000.01 to $48,000.00
$48,000.01 to $64,000.00
$64,000.01 or more
Also on May 1, 2020, ERS is adding another new investment option to the Texa$aver program’s core lineup:
Due to COVID-19, changes may occur in an employee’s Dependent Care situation. Employees may decrease or stop their Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCRA) election as this is considered a “Family Status Change – Significant change in cost or coverage.” Employees have 30 days from the date the daycare closed or the date that a shelter-in-place order was put into effect, whichever is greater, to make a change to their DCRA election.
Employees will not be allowed to re-enroll in the benefit when the daycare re-opens if coverage is dropped. An employee can re-elect this benefit during Summer Enrollment and the benefit will go into effect 09/01/2020.
As a reminder, unused funds are forfeited at the end of the plan year per the IRS. The Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account enables you to pay for out-of-pocket dependent day-care costs with pre-tax dollars.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security):
We want to ensure our employees are aware of these potential options regarding taking withdrawals from your 403b voluntary savings plans during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Safe Harbor Hardship Withdrawals:
For states where FEMA has declared a major disaster (such as Texas) as a result of COVID-19, a safe harbor hardship withdrawal would be available for 403b plans to cover expenses and losses (including loss of income) if your home or workplace is located in an area designated for FEMA individual assistance.
For more information, go to the UNTS Netbenefits portal: https://nb.fidelity.com/public/nb/unts/home
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA):
1) Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
This leave is available to employees who have been employed by UNT World for at least 30 days. Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time, part-time employees hours will be prorated based on FTE. You may qualify for this leave if you experience one of the following:
• governmental quarantine or isolation order (the lesser of 100% pay or $511 per day, and $5,110 in aggregate),
• advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine (the lesser of 100% pay or $511 per day, and $5,110 in aggregate),
• caring for an individual who is subject to governmental or self-quarantine the lesser of two-thirds (2/3) salary or $200 per day, and $2,000 in aggregate),
• caring for the employee's child because the child's school or child-care provider is closed, (the lesser of $200 per day, and $2,000 in aggregate), or
• experiencing a substantially similar circumstance related to COVID-19 as specified by the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Labor.
2) Emergency Family and Medical Leave Extension
This leave provides up to 12 weeks leave for an employee who cannot work because the school or child-care provider of that employee's child is closed as a result of a public-health emergency. The first 10 days are unpaid, the remaining 10 weeks is paid at two-thirds (2/3) of regular pay for the number of hours per week the employee normally works. The maximum amount of pay is $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate.
Please note: Documentation must be maintained by the department for any employee using Emergency Paid Sick Leave. Those choosing to use Expanded Family and Medical Leave will apply through FMLA Source and required documentation will be maintained by Human Resources.
Additional note: The Payroll team in conjunction with Human Resources and ITSS is currently working on developing the eLeave and time reporting codes needed to report time on the timesheet or leave through eLeave.
For more information please see Working Conditions under COVID 19
For questions regarding these new options contact HRbenefits@untsystem.edu
Our Organizational Development & Engagement (ODE) team remains committed to providing professional growth and development opportunities to UNT World faculty and staff – even while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to sharpen your professional and leadership skills during this time through our virtual offerings. For the most up to date resources, please visit the ODE website frequently.
Included on the ODE website is a new podcast, “5 Minute Wisdom.” In this series, ODE asks UNT World leaders questions on the topic of leadership. Designed to provide quick nuggets of wisdom, the podcast is just five minutes long. ODE also offers staff recommendations on Linkedin Learning courses for employees. Additionally, ODE has partnered with UNT’s Diversity & Inclusion team to offer all of UNT World diversity and inclusion training. ODE has provided a link to UNT D&I training resources on our website.
ODE is also offering live training sessions via Zoom that are available on UNT World Learning. ODE is now recording all live trainings and offering it later as a pre-recorded webinar via UNT World Learning. Direct registration links for these opportunities will be posted to the ODE website. Finally, ODE will continue to offer free consulting services to teams from all UNT System institutions and UNT System Administration. For ideas on what virtual consulting services might look like, please visit the ODE website or reach out to email@example.com.
ODE is your free, in-house resource for growth opportunities as a faculty or staff member at the UNT System and the best way to keep up with our latest offerings is our website: hr.untsystem.edu/ODE.
Just weeks ago, phrases like ‘social distancing’ were unheard of. Now, it’s a regular part of our vocabulary and for many, our daily routines. While social distancing is incredibly important for keeping people healthy during this time, it can be difficult to adjust to. Socializing with peers, friends, and family is important for one’s mental health and wellbeing. But remember, just because many can’t be physically near their friends or family, there are other ways to remain connected! Here are four great ways to do so.
1. Do Something Together
One of the best ways to reach out to and connect with your friends and family is an easy video call! Hopping on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or your other favorite video conferencing method, and giving your loved ones a call will help keep you updated with one another. Kick your next video call up a notch and plan an activity to go along with it. For example, you can cook the same meal and chat as you eat. Not into cooking? Read a new book and plan to discuss your thoughts, pick a movie or album that’s just come out and watch or listen together, or get your bodies moving and take a virtual workout class together! Whatever gets you on the phone and connecting face-to-face is a great start for getting a much-needed dose of socialization.
2. Schedule Regular Check-Ins
During normal, day-to-day life, you probably grew used to talking to, or at least seeing, your friends, family, and peers. Maybe it was a quick call during your commute or a chat at the watercooler. But when you’re relegated to your own home for most hours of the day, it can be hard to remember those regular check-ins. That’s why we suggest giving yourself reminders to regularly call or text your loved ones.
Set an alert on your phone, pencil it into your calendar, or leave notes around the house that will prompt you to reach out! A simple text saying you’re thinking of someone can get the conversation going and help make you feel a bit more connected to others. Make a special note to check in on those who you think could especially use it, like seniors or those who live alone, as they may be struggling a bit more and will appreciate the effort.
3. Start a Group Chat
It might be hard to find a time when all of your friends or family members can get together for a video call, so a great way to keep lines of communication open and flowing is a group chat! Whether it’s for important updates, funny photos, or just a quick hello now and then, group chats are helpful in allowing you to connect with large groups of people at once. Plus, they work well for those with very different schedules and work situations, as there is no specific time anyone needs to be on their phone to stay connected.
4. Use Social Media
These days, constantly checking social media for news updates can make many feel overwhelmed and even more stressed than they already are. However, at its core, social media’s purpose is to help others feel connected, and it’s possible to still get that benefit as you use social media! Not only can you see updates from loved ones, and post your own, but you can keep up with neighbors, peers, and even those who simply share in your hobbies via social media groups on Facebook and other similar sites. For example, many neighborhoods have Facebook groups to post updates, important news, and other goings-on. Similarly, a quick search can reveal hundreds of groups dedicated to specific hobbies and interests you might be able to relate to! Finding that connectedness with strangers who are in the same situation can help you feel less alone and offer the community aspect you may be looking for.
Feeling connected to friends, family, and communities as a whole is something we need in our everyday lives. As we deal with the difficulties of social distancing, make things a little easier by continuing to keep your relationships with loved ones stronger than ever with these tips!
During these trying times, we want to remind you of a free resource available to you now. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is offered to all UNT System employees from all institutions, their household members and dependents.
The program offers free, confidential problem assessments, counseling (up to six sessions per personal situation, per year) and referrals. In addition, the EAP website offers a wide array of services in order to assist employees with creating a work/personal life balance.
To register and take advantage of all the FREE benefits available to you at no cost, please visit awpnow.com and enter our registration code: AWP-UNT-384 to get started. The plan overview is included in this video and additional resources in this blog.
All benefits can be accessed by calling:
Toll free: 1-800-343-3822
TDD: 1 -800-448-1823
Teen line: 1 -800-334-TEEN (8336)
*Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When predicting the success of faculty or staff groups during times of crisis, a team's awareness of their strengths is more important than the specific composition of those strengths. In other words – just knowing your strengths, as well as the strengths of your partners, leads to higher engagement and performance.
When team members value each other's strengths, they more effectively relate to one another, avoid potential conflicts, boost group cohesion and create positive dialogue.
One of the most difficult tasks for an individual is easily explaining what they're good at. You can say you're "organized," but that could mean different things for different people.
Because strong teams begin at the individual level, the research-based CliftonStrengths assessment is a powerful tool that gives people a common language and vocabulary they can use to better describe, communicate with and understand each other. After acknowledging the importance of teamwork in the workplace and the power of knowing your strengths, take the next step by giving power to those strengths through CliftonStrengths.
Consider these items that great teams have in common:
When you have people in roles that fit their strengths and talents, their energy and passion can fuel their own great performance and inspire the same from their partners.
Traditional change management focuses on processes and tools — the logistics of "what is changing" and "how it will change." Change management is typically about minimizing disruption, and it often underemphasizes the behavioral side of change.
When leaders understand human emotional dynamics — including mindsets, behaviors and cultural norms — they can create a work environment that energizes people to get ahead of change and push the organization forward.
Learn more about how to drive an agile culture in times of change:
Higher education is facing a unique set of challenges and opportunities as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Gallup, 70% of how team members feel is influenced by their local manager. How these leaders respond is critical; managers should purpose to have engaging and continuous conversations with their teams focusing on meeting basic emotional needs. The Gallup Q12 Survey focuses on measuring 12 core items linking strongly to key institutional outcomes. While in the early stages of dealing with a disruptive event, there are four elements in particular that team members need to feel have been met in order for them to perform well:
Utilize these points as a simple, research-based yes/no needs checklist to make sure team members are set up to succeed during this challenging time.
Employees everywhere want someone to coach them through this challenging time – staff and faculty are no different.
Coaching means frequent conversations that continues even as teams become more geographically distributed and affected by factors like childcare challenges. In Gallup’s article, How Managers Can Excel by Really Coaching Their Employees, the following three actions exemplify proper manager-as-a-coach technique:
Once parameters concerning these topics are introduced team-wide, one-on-one time should be devoted to understanding what team members can individually contribute through their talent. Gallup knows people are uniquely wired to respond to challenging times through their own talents and strengths. Consider how you process change personally and how your team members do it. Candidly discuss the following topics:
After facilitating such conversations, managers can feel confident to then empower their team members to assume responsibility for their own engagement – not forgetting to consistently have supportive conversations.