HR Bulletin | February 2021
Save the Week!
Staff Resources Virtual Fair
March 2 – 5, 2021 | Microsoft Teams
This year, the Staff Resources Committee has had to pivot and plan for a new direction: a virtual fair week scheduled for March 2 – 5, 2021. During this week, the committee will host a series of live Q&A sessions via Microsoft Teams.
What can you expect?
- A chance to view and listen to several department updates, per division.
- Attend a virtual interactive fair that offers multiple sessions and a flexible schedule.
- A chance to connect with different department representatives on different days.
- Learn about new services, resources, and/or organizational changes across campus.
Even though this will not be an in-person fair, we will still have great prizes and raffles for our virtual attendees! So, remember to mark your calendar for March 2 – 5, 2021. Dates and times are coming soon!
HR Updates for COVID-19
If you are looking for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 for staff and faculty, please visit Human Resources Workplace Updates for COVID-19. There you will find important updates, including Frequently Asked Questions. The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) was not extended beyond December 31, 2020 by the U.S. Congress. Employees not able to work remotely should use accrued leave balances to cover time away from work. After reviewing the FAQs, the Benefits team can help with your follow-up questions.
Academic Release and Tuition Support Forms Due Soon
Forms Due By February 3!
If you are taking credit courses this spring and are requesting paid leave, opting-out of fee and designated tuition waivers, and/or requesting departmental reimbursement, please remember to complete the online form by February 3. The e-form is available in SAP under ESS+. Please note that you do not need to complete this form to receive fees and designated tuition waivers. Student Business Services (SBS) will identify eligible employees and automatically apply the waivers after grades post.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
You can learn more about the program by viewing our new Academic Release & Tuition Support video or by visiting the Academic Release & Tuition Support website. For guidance and instructions on the process and form completion, please review the Employee User Guide and Supervisor User Guide. You may also review UPPS 04.04.35 Professional Development and Educational Opportunities for more details on the requirements and restrictions about this program.
Please contact Elizabeth Cruz at 5.2283 if you have any questions.
Getting a Tax Refund?
Consider starting or increasing your contribution to a voluntary retirement savings account. Texas State staff and faculty are eligible to contribute to tax-sheltered retirement plans in addition to your TRS or ORP retirement accounts. These are great ways to save additional money for your retirement to help you achieve your financial goals. You can start with as little as $17 monthly up to $19,500 annually (or more if you are age 50+). Find more details on the Retirement Programs Website
Email the Benefits Office, visit Benefits in JCK 360, or call 5.2557 for more information.
Get Fit Texas! Challenge
It's Not too late to join!
Texas State is competing with other state agencies to encourage more physical activity. Successful completion is counted as 150 minutes of physical activity each week. If you reach this goal for 6 weeks between now and March 20, you will have met the challenge.
All Texas State employees meeting this overall goal will be entered into a drawing for some fabulous prizes provided by WellCats.
Registration and logging your activity is easy. Check it out at on the Get Fit Texas! website and help show that Texas State employees are serious about wellness!
Staff Educational Development Leave Program
Are you thinking about going back to school? Did you know that the Staff Educational Development Program provides a wonderful opportunity each fall and spring semester for up to seven full-time benefits-eligible staff who have been part of Texas State for one year to receive special support for degree work?
What are the benefits?
If you meet the requirements for eligibility, you may receive up to 20 hours per week of release time for courses taken at Texas State or other accredited higher education institution. Selected employees can earn nine to 12 credit hours for an undergraduate program, and six to nine hours for graduate programs. And guess what? Fees and tuition are waived! Plus, even though you have the option to work part-time, you will keep your full-time rate of compensation.
Where can I find more information?
For more info, please visit UPPS 04.04.35 Professional Development and Educational Opportunities for details regarding eligibility and application procedures.
How to apply?
Each semester members of President’s Cabinet nominate employees within their division for a chance to participate in this program. Applications are due to your cabinet member by March 1. You can learn more and apply on the Staff Educational Development Leave Website!
Who to contact?
Please contact OD & Communications at 5.7899 if you have any questions.
Tips from the Training Corner
Working from Home
The pandemic has forever changed the workplace as we know it. According to a survey by Gartner, 88% of organizations across the globe have had to pivot to remote working due to COVID. The transition to remote working has been drastic and challenging for many employees. A comforting thought is that we are all in this together. As we navigate through these unpredictable and unprecedented times together, our team would like to share a few resources and tips that can help you stay on track and be successful this year.
Focusing On You
Before we focus on how you can help your team, let’s focus on you as an individual first. Are you having a difficult time adjusting or getting accustomed to your remote setting? Do you find yourself falling behind on deadlines? Are your new “coworkers” (e.g. children, roommates, pets, etc.) distracting? Here are a few tips that can help you better adapt to your remote work environment.
- Create a designated workspace that helps you maximizes productivity and avoid distractions.
- Find a space in your home that allows you to focus on work.
- Make sure you have the right technology and supplies you need to effectively complete your tasks.
- Avoid multitasking – turn off the TV, social media, and if possible, your cell phone ringer.
- Set clear boundaries with your new “coworkers.”
- Communicate with your family members and/or roommates about your needs during your work hours.
- Create a schedule for you and your children to minimize interruptions
- Consider scheduling activities that keep your children occupied while you work on time sensitive tasks.
- Get yourself organized and set your daily top priorities
- Create a to-do list with all your tasks for the day. Prioritize your big project(s) around your reoccurring tasks.
- Remember to review your to-do list every morning before starting your workday so that you have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish that day.
- Take control of time. Learn how to manage your calendar and email.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Make sure you are constantly communicating with your supervisor and team. Don’t be afraid to over communicate. With the majority of teams working remotely, communication is more important than ever.
- Let your team know the status of your current projects and duties. If you need feedback on a project, try sharing it virtually using OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams or other online tools.
- Try using video calls when possible to interact with your teammates. We know it’s hard not being around each other. Video calls helps bridge this gap!
- Focus on your self-care.
- Schedule time for breaks and wellness time.
- Give yourself a break from your screen.
- Remember to use your wellness time. Employees are allotted two and a half hours of wellness per week. (Visit UPPS 04.04.32 for more information.)
- Stick to your work schedule! Now that you are working from home, it is easy to continue to work afterhours. Avoid overworking and stick to your normal schedule.
Focusing On Your Team(s)
Now, let’s focus on your team(s). Supervisors, are you having trouble building relationships between your staff? Does your new employee feel disconnected? Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you and your team members can do to assure your team is building and maintaining rapport - even from a distance. Here are a few tips that can help.
- Listen to your team.
- Check in with your team! Just because you are remote does not mean you have to put a pause on regular 1:1s to check on project updates and goal tracking.
- Active listening goes a long way! Create a safe space where employees can share how they are doing and what their needs are. Ask what you can do to help them adjust.
- Continue to have an “open door” policy.
- Make yourself available and virtually approachable to your staff.
- Make sure your team knows your working schedule and your preferred communication method. (e.g., is it easier to reach you through Teams, email, phone?)
- Be flexible.
- Remember, these are difficult times. Now is the time to adapt to the changes that are occurring. Unexpected hurdles can arise that may signify a need to move project deadlines, at times.
- If possible, allow your team members to flex their schedule as long as the work is being completed in a timely manner.
- Encourage your team to build relationships.
- It takes effort from everyone on the team to maintain relationships. Ask your team if they have ideas on how to have some virtual fun with activities where the whole team can participate. (e.g., virtual coffee meetups, virtual games, etc.)
- Aside from continuing the practice of having frequent team meetings (now in a virtual space), encourage time for virtual team check-ins. Allowing time for casual conversations and temperature checks helps team members feel connected and builds morale!
- Take advantage of our multiple technology platforms.
- ITAC has an incredible menu of online tools to help you and your teams stay connected. Teams and Zoom are the most frequently used for virtual meetings, but discover other tools and resources ITAC has put together to help collaboration while working remotely.
- Gartner. (2020, March 19.) Gartner HR Survey Reveals 88% of Organizations Have Encouraged or Required Employees to Work From Home Due to Coronavirus. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-03-19-gartner-hr-survey-reveals-88--of-organizations-have-e WebMD. (2020, May 2.)
Ergonomic Tips for a Home Office. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/ss/slideshow-ergonomic-tips-for-a-home-office
Pollak, Lindsey and Coombes, Eileen (2020, March 17.) 23 Essential Tips for Working Remotely. Inc Magazine. https://www.inc.com/lindsey-pollak-eileen-coombes/remote-work-home-productivity-communication-self-care-morale-team.html
Additional Resources for Remote Working:
If you need additional resources, LinkedIn Learning has created a learning path specific to effective remote working. Topics include: Productivity Tips, Leading at a Distance, Managing Virtual Teams, and Leading Virtual Meetings. Also, check out the following bonus resources for you, too!
- Designating a Home Office
- Setting Boundaries
- Building Relationships
Do you know of other similar resources your fellow Bobcats would like to learn? We’d love for you to share it with us! Email the ODC team with details.
W4 Forms Due Soon!
All employees who claim “exempt” on their federal income tax withholding (i.e., have no income tax withheld) must file a new W-4 form each tax year. If a new form is not completed, the university is required to withhold at the “single” filer tax rate until a new form is received.
All W-4 forms should be entered via SAP Employee Self-Service or submitted to Benefits by February 8, 2021. Please send your form to Human Resources in J.C. Kellam, Room 360, or fax to 5.1942. Do not email your new W-4 as it contains sensitive, personal information. You will find a new W-4 form on the HR Forms website in the Payroll section.
New Year, New Mentality
By: Katelin Bailey, Meagan Gardner, and Emily Lowry
WellCats Group Exercise Instructors and Doctor of Physical Therapy Students
As the year of 2020 comes to a close and 2021 begins, it’s important to look back and reflect on how things have changed and what you want in the future. One good way to reflect is by writing in a journal. Below are multiple prompts that can help you get started with journaling!
- In what ways did I grow as a person this year? In what ways do I want to grow in the new year?
- How well did I take care of myself this year? Where could I have done a better job? How?
- What was my mindset this year? On what did I focus my thoughts on?
- How can I improve my mindset in the next year?
- What did I accomplish this year? What are my top three goals for next year?
Exercises aren’t just for the body - they also exist for the mind! Challenging your mind on a daily basis is an incredibly important aspect of overall health! There are plenty of mental activities available that can allow you to exercise your brain. Take a few minutes out of your day to give your mind a workout!
Virtual Youth Mental Health First Aid
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | 10 a.m. -3:30 p.m. | Zoom
The current environment has impacted us all, including our children. In this hybrid course, you will learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth. This training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial support to children and adolescents (ages 6-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.
What does this training cover?
- Common signs and symptoms of mental illness in this age group, including:
- Eating disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
- Common signs and symptoms of substance use
- How to interact with a child or adolescent in crisis
- How to connect the person with help
- NEW! Expanded content on trauma, addiction and self-care and the impact of social media and bullying.
What requirements should participants expect?
- Prework: (2 hours)
- Participants must complete a two-hour, self-paced online course the day before the training.
- Live virtual course: (4.5 hours)
- The instructor-led live course is from 10 a.m – 3:30 p.m. on February 24. Participants must register in the SAP Portal to attend. Registration will close one week prior.
- Participants must have audio and video capabilities on the day of the virtual instructor-led training. Active participation is expected.
Faculty & Staff
Do you know of any graduating seniors or student workers that would benefit from this training? If so, please have your students email Organizational Development & Communications for access to this course.
Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) Plans Universal Eligibility Notification
Saving For Retirement
A Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Plan is a voluntary 403(b) retirement program that allows you to save additional income for retirement through pre-tax or Roth after-tax contributions. Contributions are made through payroll deductions and may be invested in mutual funds, fixed or variable annuities with any one of the authorized vendors. There is no employer contribution with the 403(b) Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) Plan.
All employees who normally work at least 1,000 hours per calendar year and are not student employees are eligible to contribute to a TDA.
You can get started for as little as $200 a year and contribute up to the general limit ($19,500 for 2021) or 100% of your salary, whichever is less. In addition, you can contribute more if you are at least age 50 by year’s end or if you have worked for Texas State for at least 15 years. Contact Human Resources for more information regarding how much you can contribute.
Contact a representative on the list of authorized vendors found on the Human Resources website. Complete the account application and other documents the representative will have. The completed documents must come to Human Resources before the payroll deduction can begin. The effective date of your plan will always be the first day of the month following the date Human Resources receives the paperwork.
You can start or stop your account or change the amount of your contributions at any time during the year. You can also change the company your contributions are going to anytime. Contact Human Resources if you want to make changes to an existing account. If you want to change how your funds are being invested, contact your vendor directly.
Follow up questions about the program may be directed to the HR benefits team at 5.2557.
Join us in welcoming our new employee Bobcats!
Employees hired between December 1 - December 31
Saidat Adelakun, Administrative Assistant I, Procurement & Strategic sourcing
Michael Bade, Grant Specialist, Texas School Safety Center
Wendi Hall, Administrative Assistant II, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Sarah Makepeace, Compliance Specialist, Institutional Compliance
Loren Maybrier, Major Gift Officer, Office of Development
We remind all new staff employees hired during the past month that N.E.W. is designed to provide useful information to new staff regarding the resources, benefits, and opportunities associated with employment at Texas State University. For more info and to connect with other new bobcats access the official new employee website.
New Employee Welcome: Friday, February 12, 2021
In accordance with CDC guidelines of social distancing, monthly N.E.W. II sessions will be held virtually via Zoom from 8:30 – 11:00 a.m. Visit our updated N.E.W. II website for more information.
Contact the Office of Human Resources with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 5.7899.
Bobcats On The Move
Congratulations to the following employees who were promoted or reclassified. Employees promoted or reclassified between December 1 - December 31.
Richard Batey, Promoted to Senior Research Analyst, Office of Institutional Research
Stacy Evens, Promoted to Business Process Analyst, Technology Resources Administration
Ross McEwen, Promoted to Senior Programmer Analyst, Mobile/Web Systems
Carmelita Mendoza, Promoted to Assistant Director, Accounting Office
David Sambrano, Promoted to Supervisor, Grounds & Waste Management Operations
Texas State Employee Discount Program
The Texas State University Employee Discount Program is the exclusive discount marketplace for you and your fellow employees. Thank you so much for all your hard work and continued support!
- 1-800-Flowers | Get 15% off same day delivery.
- Dylan’s Candy Bar | Save 25% when ordering confections, sweets, and nostalgic American treats.
- Palm Beach Jewelry | Get 25% off plus free earrings when spending $50 or more!
February 3 | Bobcat Online Scholarship System (BOSS) Refresher
February 4 | Balancing Career and Classroom: The OWLS Approach (NEW!)
February 4 | From Foster Care to College Student
February 10 | Learn About the Library! (NEW!)
February 11 | Understanding How Perceptions Influence Decision Making
February 16 | Kuali Research Overview
February 17 | Diversity 101
February 17 | BOSS Award Training
February 24 | Virtual Youth Mental Health First Aid (NEW!)
February 25 | Pre-Award Services Available to the University Community
February 25 | Texas State Retirement Process
February 26 | LGBTQiA Allies Training
Employee of the Month
Due to a voting delay, the January Employee of the Month Winner will not be announced until early February. Both the January and February Employee of the Month winners will be announced in the upcoming March bulletin. Stay tuned!
Texas State Quarterly Team Award
College of Science and Engineering (CoSE) Clean Team
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic this team came together and employed their diverse skillset to create conditions for a safe return for our students, faculty, staff, and external constituents. They worked diligently on several engineering, administrative, and supplies/personal protective equipment issues including:
- Writing, designing, and implementing safety protocols aimed at minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These protocols enabled resumption of research activity in SRO lab spaces on June 2 and were shared with the Continuation of Research workgroup for distribution to other lab managers across campus. (Alissa Savage, Casey Smith, Juan Gomez, Melvin Cruz, and Renee Ness)
- Designing, fabrication, and distribution of ~400 low-cost 3D-printed face shields and more than 3000 “ear savers” for many departments across campus. This project utilized the resources of the Ingram Hall Makerspace. (Dean Koehne and John Ivey)
- Manufacturing of more than 70,000 3D-printed nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing used by Sonic Healthcare, headquartered in Austin, Texas. This group exhibited extreme dedication to meeting/exceeding the weekly quota and spent a significant number of hours outside their assigned work schedule on evenings and weekends to keep the resin-based printers running continuously. This project utilized resources of the Physics Department. (Juan Gomez, Matt Candelas, Aaron Gonzales, Karla Pizana, and Tom Myers)
- Modifying conventional shop air blower/filters to include a high efficiency MERV filter capable of capturing airborne droplets of saliva (that may contain and transmit COVID-19) from the room. This has the effect of artificially increasing the number of air changes in a given space and thereby decreases the chance of occupants inhaling COVID-19 bearing particles. This project utilized resources of the MARC Advanced Prototyping Lab. (Dean Koehne, Juan Gomez, Marcus Goss, Nate England, Matt Candelas, Max Casares, Aaron Gonzales, and Tom Myers)
- Designing, fabrication, and installation of acrylic barriers in office spaces where student workers or administrative staff interact with the public. This project utilized resources of the MARC Advanced Prototyping Lab. (Marcus Goss, Matt Candelas, and Max Casares
- Synthesizing hand sanitizer dubbed “CoSE Clean” for use at ingress/egress points at labs, classrooms, and offices. This project initially addressed needs within SRO and other CoSE departments, but word spread around campus and demand grew amid a nation-wide critical shortage of hand sanitizer products. This team quickly ramped up production to supply hand sanitizer campus wide, now available at more than 200 hand sanitizer stations on the San Marcos Campus with more than 500 gallons of the product produced in-house. This project utilized resources of the Chemistry and Biochemistry department. (Casey Smith, Carlos Baca, Alan Martinez, and Jacob Bisbal)
- Conducting complex and fast paced purchasing of materials in support of the projects by the SRO administrative staff Karla Pizana and Kelsie Crumpton.
Congratulations to the CoSE Clean Team on its achievements and outstanding efforts!