Staff Council met on Tuesday, December 18 at 12:00PM in the Champlain Room. Below are the meeting minutes (to be approved on February 19, 2019) for your review. These minutes can also be found on the K: Drive, located at K:\Staff Council\Staff Council – Meeting Minutes\June 2018 – May 2019 (Note for Windows 10 users: the K: drive is now the P: drive on your machine). Please send any recommended revisions to Cullen Bostock at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the February 19 meeting.
I. Welcome – Call meeting to order (Shaylea Scribner, President, Staff Council)
II. New Employee Welcome
- Diane Soboski, Director of Admissions, introduced herself to the group.
III. Approval of the November meeting minutes (see on Staff Council Blog at https://staffcouncil.champlain.edu)
- A motion was made to approve, motion was seconded, and the November 2018 meeting minutes were unanimously approved
IV. New Wellbeing Program: MotivateMe – Debra Dayman
- Cigna’s MotivateMe Program will be replacing what is currently referred to as the wellbeing reimbursement account at the start of 2019.
- Employees will still be eligible to receive up to $300 toward wellbeing activities. The major difference is eligibility is granted upon completion of a wellbeing related tasks/incentives. The first $150 will be awarded upon completion of 3 “gatekeeper” tasks – completing a Health Risk Assessment (HRA), receiving a biometric screening (likely performed by your primary care provider), and receiving a preventative dental cleaning (the basic dental insurance plan covers up to 4 cleanings per year). Debra noted that if employees received biometric screening within the last 6 months, it will be reflected as having been completed in their MotivateMe account.
- It was also noted that, upon completion of the HRA questionnaire, employees will also be eligible to receive a fitness tracker from Garmin or Fitbit provided by Cigna.
- A number of other opportunities for incentives are available to employees through their MotivateMe account. A complete list can be accessed through your MyCigna website and completing any 5 of the available tasks will make you eligible to receive an additional $150.
- A representative from Cigna will be on campus in January to detail the layout of the program and provide tutorials for how to navigate the MotivateMe incentives on your MyCigna site/mobile app.
- Debra also highlighted the Choosing Health Choosing You program being facilitated by Rebecca Schubert from the Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium (GMHEC). The program will be held at lunch time on Mondays beginning January 14 and provides participants a safe, nonjudgmental space to develop their well-being vision, set goals, and create an action plan to make that vision a reality.
- A question was asked regarding what happens to individuals’ health information submitted as part of these incentives (e.g. responses to the HRA questions, etc.). Debra replied that nobody at Champlain can see your health information. Cigna does as part the claims processing procedures, but does not share with the College. Rather, the College receives broad information related to participation in various incentives or claims submitted, but never the actual record-level data such as names, procedures, etc.
V. Discussion and Feedback Session on Faculty Senate Community Support Resolution and Cabinet – Shaylea Scribner, Jared Cadrette, Faith Yacubian, Megan Munson-Warnken
- Megan Munson-Warnken and Faith Yacubian provided a brief history of the Faculty Senate Resolution on Community Support, which was approved by Faculty Senate on November 26, submitted to the President’s Cabinet, and on December 5 received a formal response from Laurie Quinn. Megan noted her observation that staff appear to be leaving the College at an alarming rate, more specifically in the last year or so, which has had an impact on our ability to ensure student well-being. Through conversations with staff, Megan has heard that individuals are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and in some cases frustrated at not being able to do the work they were brought here to do due to number of variables.
- Since the resolution acknowledged a number of constraints experienced by staff across campus, the Staff Council Executive Committee designated this portion of the agenda to hear from the group. Jared provided the additional context for this forum that the response to the resolution focused primarily on what has occurred, rather than what plans are in place for the future to alleviate some of the noted constraints. The Staff Council Executive Board had also prepared a response, however, upon further feedback, it became clear that it did not represent the voice of all staff. Therefore, this forum is a collaborative opportunity for staff to share their experiences. The goal of this meeting is to ensure everyone is educated on the matter, be productive, and foster collaboration rather than confrontation.
- The concern was brought forward that by naming specific departments in the resolution, the focus of a response may not include other departments/student-facing areas that were not specifically named. The examples provided were Compass Student Services, Office of International Education, among others. Megan acknowledged these statements and noted that the naming of specific entities was the result of conversations with staff representatives from those areas. That is, the authors of the resolution were mindful of who did and did not necessarily want to be named. Alternatively, the inclusion of the language “such as, but not limited to” prior to the listing of departments was intentional.
- Experiences were shared regarding the current state of the institution. One member noted her observation that voices do tend to be marginalized and, when paired with the constraints/stresses named in the resolution, presented difficulties with how staff interacts across the institution. It was acknowledged that staff do not always have a safe space to speak up and there was appreciation expressed toward Megan, Faith, and the Staff Council Executive Board for “living” in that unsafe space and voicing these shared concerns.
- The question was asked whether or not the Staff Council Executive Board, in planning a formal response on behalf of staff, have considered a joint response with Faculty. Would that be more powerful, or is this an opportunity for staff to have their own voice? Jared replied that it could go either way. Part of today’s meeting and determining any potential next steps is to take a collaborative approach to responding. It would certainly be impactful for staff to have their own voice in the matter but it is also important to come together as a community. Megan added that it would be important for Faculty to gain a better understanding of staff experiences, through these stories for example, to better grasp the situation and to avoid misunderstanding. Faculty Senate could really benefit from a detailed, more elaborate account of the staff experiences in each office around campus.
- A representative from the SMART Space shared her experiences and provided context as to why they are represented in the list of affected departments in the resolution. Last year, SMART Space offered 60 hours of open office hours per week where students could study and work with academic coaches one-on-one, as well as 36 hours of free tutoring available (per student) in a number of subjects. Since opening 4 years ago, SMART Space has offered an average of 32 workshops/year, has had 36 student workers, all managed by 1 full time staff member and 2 part time staff members. Over the last year, SMART Space has had over 4,200 visits and over ¼ of the student population has visited the facility. One on one visits with students can be very intense, and there are apparent mental health needs among students which are referred to counseling. Due to budget reductions and fewer staff, the facility is now open 54 hours/week despite the student need being the same, if not increased. There is also no more ELL tutor on hand to assist students.
- Nic Anderson, Chair of the Communications & Engagement Committee, noted some of the themes from conversations the committee has had regarding the resolution and response. There is opportunity for conversations to be had so there is a better understanding of the situation and tease out why staff are leaving the College. Nic alluded to the pattern of positions simply being filled when there is turnover, however, no attempt at understanding why staff left in the first place. The resolution was clear about asking to reengage, or reopen discussions regarding the issues impacting staff turnover. Shaylea emphasized the importance of discussing the “why” in these matters. There is potential for staff to dig deeper and have those tough conversations and using an appreciative inquiry approach to identify the root of the issues.
- Jean-Marie Severance, Chair of the Staff Welfare Committee, noted the committee’s conversations in response to the resolution. The committee met last week and it was apparent that not everybody is on the same page. It is clear that there is a lot of pain shared among committee members, but not necessarily a clear path for expressing it. Jean-Marie encouraged staff who do not feel safe speaking up to share their stories with any member of the Staff Welfare Committee. Perhaps one of the unintended consequences of the resolution was managers being asked to go back to their departments and get a sense of how their staff were feeling. It is possible that in those cases, staff did not feel safe in responding truthfully. Jean-Marie emphasized that the Staff Welfare Committee is a safe place to share concerns and ensure anonymity. Megan followed up to these comments by encouraging staff who do not necessarily share the concerns outlined in the resolution to speak up as well. It is understood that there are positive experiences shared among staff and it’s important to not lose touch of that.
- There was a request for next steps to include a multi-year plan on how to address issues facing staff. The first step would be to have more of these conversations and outline the themes facing each department around campus. Then, once established, working collaboratively to outline an action plan to address said themes. It’s important to embrace that these concerns will not be addressed overnight and that it is a long term commitment for which we are all responsible.
- It was acknowledged that there are many varying experiences among staff and that the resolution does not necessarily strike a chord with the entire community. With that, it is important to come together collectively to discuss those varying experiences, and what we can do to support each other as a community. These conversations are much appreciated and a great first step in ensuring we remain a great community and a great place to work.
- It was discussed that the resolution could be read through different lenses. One member noted that upon initially reading the resolution, many of the concerns centered on budgetary constraints rather than a focus on the morale or work environment concerns alluded to during this meeting. In some cases, those two things can intercept, but are not necessarily named in the resolution, therefore the response seemed appropriate. The suggestion was made that, if Staff Council were to draft a formal response, that the concerns of morale be more explicitly outlined. It was also suggested that we not resort to a back and forth of resolutions, rather, sit down and have a mediated conversation to determine appropriate next steps for improving morale. This would help to ensure everyone is on the same page, voices are being heard, and the conversation results in understanding in order to develop into a positive organization.
- A comment was made that Staff Council is not a representative body, and does not have a shared governance structure as the Faculty Senate does. With that, there is some concern as to whether or not a response is appropriate. In response, it was asked of the group why it is that staff should not have that distinction or voice.
- It should be noted that this meeting was recorded using Zoom. To hear a full account of the comments expressed during this open forum, you can watch the video stream here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17k9TvXoIa15XgbqyLap0MlQSFhnjhPdN/view?usp=sharing
VI. Closing – if you have questions, feedback, ideas – please speak to me or one of our Executive Committee members