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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 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:

  • Allows participants to take penalty-free withdrawals up to $100,000 if you meet criteria related to COVID-19
  • Qualifying Coronavirus-related Distributions (QCDs) include:
    • Adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or having work hours reduced
    • Being unable to work due to a lack of child care as a result of COVID-19
    • Closing or reducing hours of a business you own/operate due to COVID-19

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:

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

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
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:

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.

They include:

  • LawAccess
  • HelpNet
  • WorkLife
  • SafeRide

To register and take advantage of all the FREE benefits available to you at no cost, please visit 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.

Week 3

How can managers strengthen their teams during times of disruption?

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:

  • Team members can name and understand the individual talents of everyone on the team.
  • Team members can see a clear connection between each other's strengths and behavior. They can see the link between strengths and success.
  • Everyone on the team has partnerships that encourage their strengths development.
  • Team members use their knowledge of each other's strengths to plan, strategize, analyze and direct their actions.

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.

Embrace times of disruption as an opportunity to show your organization’s agility.

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:

Week 2

What are best practices for managing in challenging times?

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:

  • Focus Me: Do team members know what is expected of them right now to keep the organization focused on the top priorities?
  • Free Me From Unnecessary Stress: Do team members have the materials and equipment they need to be free of unnecessary stress during this time?
  • Know Me: Do team members feel like managers know them, understand any unique challenges they might face at home right now and are supporting them to do what they do best during this challenging time?
  • Help Me See My Importance: Do our faculty and staff feel personally connected to the ways they are helping the organization navigate the crisis to emerge strong?

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.

Mangers are at their best when acting as a coach.

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:

  • Establish expectations that are clear, collaborative and aligned with the organization’s goals
  • Have frequent, focused and future-oriented conversations
  • Create accountability that is fair, accurate, developmental- and achievement-oriented

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:

  • What talent do you bring to navigating this challenge? For example, a team member may have a talent to help the team develop a contingency plan to meet a specific student or internal/external partner need.
  • What do you need from the team to navigate this challenge well? For example, a team member may need regular touch points in a certain format to feel they are in the loop.

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.  

Week 1

What do the staff/faculty you manage need right now?

Gallup has studied the needs of followers and discovered four basic requirements: trust, stability, compassion and hope.

These four needs intensify in challenging times and become guideposts for how we should interact and communicate. ­­Consider the following in relation to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Trust: Communicate openly and authentically. Provide avenues to listen and respond.
  • Stability: Highlight what is staying the same for your team. For example, your mission to serve students/partners likely won’t change; how you deliver it might.
  • Compassion: Show you care. Make regular check-ins a priority with your team, even if they are virtual. Ask how they are doing and what they need.  
  • Hope: Provide a sense of hope. Help your team see that these challenges cause us to innovate and grow in new ways.

As team leaders and managers craft outreach strategies, these four dimensions are critical to keep in mind. They provide a useful structure to evaluate all outgoing communications, both for faculty, staff, students and partners. They are also useful to consider as a guide for one-on-one manager discussions as well as wider team discussions.

What are top considerations managers should weigh as more employees work from home?

Higher education institutions less frequently have home-based or virtual teams than other industries. For faculty and staff who are working from home for the first time, inventive management techniques are necessary.

This is a time where basic needs – which Gallup describes as expectations and materials/equipment issues – are critical. Effective communications, from the organization and reinforced and made relevant by the manager, are essential.

It is also important organizations remain focused on their values during the COVID-19 crisis. It is important to focus on values during times of disruption, not dismiss them. It is also a time for leaders to remain humble and authentic. This is new for everyone, and all organizations and leaders are adjusting as best they can, based on the latest information. Setting the expectation that the organization’s response will evolve and that we are all learning will help team members recognize that they would expect the situation to change.

Emanual George III, Associate Dean of Student Engagement & Alumni Affairs and Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy, College of Pharmacy, UNTHSC, talks about creating a motivating environment in the “Leaders on Leading” audio clip series.  This series features quick, entertaining, and motivating Q&As with organizational leaders on having an impact and developing people.  Listeners will get real-world advice, learn practical tips, and hear inspirational stories to help improve their own leadership skills.