Presidential Recognition Awards: Now Accepting Applications!

Do you know some great people who deserve recognition?

Nominate them for the Presidential Recognition Awards!

Four Presidential Recognition Awards annually highlight the contributions and excellence of SMU staff members and will be presented at the Staff Association Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, March 3, 2016.

109462615The Awards include the:

  • Gretchen Voight New Employee Excellence Award
  • Continuing Excellence Award
  • Outstanding Leadership Award
  • Innovation Award.

Award winners will receive $1000 each.


Nominations must be received no later than 5:00 pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.

Questions about the nomination and selection process may be emailed to .

For more information on criteria and process, visit the Human Resources webpage.

Posted in HR General, Resources | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Presidential Recognition Awards: Now Accepting Applications!

The Five Languages of Appreciation at Work

HR is excited to announce a partnership with the SMU Staff Association to offer this interactive workshop during a February series of 4 Lunch and Learn sessions.

Why is Appreciation Important in the Workplace?

5 langaugesAuthentic appreciation increases employee motivation. Motivation is different for everyone and underneath it all rests a set of values. We all have emotion tied to what makes us feel appreciated.  A pat on the back, an award for our contribution, public recognition, or one-on-one time are all received differently by different people.  Motivation is maximized when individuals receive their ideal form of praise, encouragement, or reward for their efforts.

Effectively communicating appreciation and encouragement to employees, results in higher levels of job satisfaction, healthier relationships between managers and employees, and decreased cases of burnout.

During these sessions, you will learn:

  • the importance of appreciation
  • the 5 languages and what they mean – to you and others
  • ways to put the 5 languages to work
  • how to apply the principles of appreciation

In addition, each participant will receive a code to take the MBA assessment to learn their primary, secondary, and least valued languages.

Dates and times for these Lunch and Learn Sessions are:

All sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 11:30-1:00 on February 2, 10, 17, 24.  Feel free to lunch while you learn!

Please mark your calendars and check with your supervisor to ensure you can attend all 4 sessions before enrolling.

Enrollment is facilitated via my.SMU >Self Service>Learning and Development>Request Training Enrollment.

Thanks to the SMU Staff Association for sponsoring this training!

Questions?  Email HR at or the Ebonii Nelson of the Staff Association Board at

Posted in HR General, Learning and Development, Uncategorized, Working at SMU | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The Five Languages of Appreciation at Work

Spiritual Tools During Times of Transition

This workshop is being offered by Judy Henneberger, Associate Chaplain to the University.

business woman doing the time out sign with her arms

The session is offered to help members of our community adjust to change and transition. Together we will explore ways to experience faith in moving forward.

Tuesday, September 29

Noon – 1:15

Promenade Room, Hughes Trigg Student Center (lower level)

If you would like more information or have questions, please contact Judy at 8-4505.

Posted in Health & Wellness, Learning and Development, Resources, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off on Spiritual Tools During Times of Transition

Recent Market Volatility – Transamerica’s Perspective

Turn on the news or go online and it seems there are almost as many explanations and theories as there are people offering them. Transamerica feels the recent declines have been driven by numerous factors. Chief among them is what’s happened in China. In a nutshell, sluggishness in the Chinese economy has led officials there to significantly devalue the currency to make exports less expensive. The concern here is that this may make American exports to China more expensive, and hurt U.S. companies.

No matter what has caused the recent market volatility, what’s most important is that you weather this storm successfully and remain on course to have the kind of retirement you want, when you want it.  Suggestions from Transamerica…

Posted in HR General, Retirement | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Recent Market Volatility – Transamerica’s Perspective

Updated New Employee Packets Now Available for Student Workers, Temporary Staff and Adjunct Faculty

The new employee packets for student workers, temporary staff employees, and adjunct faculty have changed recently. The updates made in the employee packets reflect the following changes:

  • The Authorization & Consent for Release of Information Form that is needed for the background check now includes an important disclosure for the prospective employee to read prior to signing the document.  Other changes made to this form ensure SMU is following best practices for conducting background checks.
  • Employees now enroll in direct deposit & submit the Form W-4 electronically via my.SMU. The paper version of the direct deposit form are no longer being used by the payroll department.
  • The employment statement for temporary staff & adjunct faculty contains updated questions for federally required diversity & disability reporting. In addition, the employment statement now asks for details on the temporary/adjunct assignment.

Beginning August 24, 2015, HR will no longer accept out-of-date versions of the employment forms.

Hiring managers and other any other employees responsible for hiring student workers, temporary staff and/or adjunct faculty should avoid saving forms and employee packets on their individual computers for future use. Unintentionally this can cause out-of-date forms being disseminated to your new student worker, temporary worker, or adjunct.

Business success team in an office in front of a laptop computerAvoid any confusion and frustration that may result from the completion of unnecessary paperwork by obtaining all forms and employee packets directly from the Recruitment Forms section on HR’s website. Consider sharing the link to the appropriate new employee packet with your  student worker, temporary employee, or adjunct faculty member.

Detailed information about the hiring process for each employee classification is available on HR’s website.

Questions? SMU’s Talent Management Team is here to help! Email the team at

Posted in HR General, Recruitment, Resources | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Updated New Employee Packets Now Available for Student Workers, Temporary Staff and Adjunct Faculty

Independent Contractor Determination Process at SMU

icd3The University must correctly determine whether the individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors.  HR has created a process to evaluate the work to be done and provide approval to proceed with the hiring process.

Please follow this process in order to minimize the risk to the University including, but not limited to, the cost of back taxes and social security contributions.

The process starts with the Independent Contractor Determination Form which should be submitted as soon as the dates and services are agreed upon.  Approval should be received before services are performed. Please note the form is recently updated and should be used for all future requests.

Once the form has been submitted, it is reviewed and you will be contacted if there are any questions.  You will also receive an email informing you of the committee’s determination for approval.  Once approved you may move forward with enlisting the services of the Independent Contractor.

Visit the Independent Contractor Determination webpage to learn more about the process, requirements, and approval timelines.

Questions?  Email

Posted in HR General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Independent Contractor Determination Process at SMU

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

The following information is provided by SMU’s EAP provider, Magellan Health Services.

noisycoworkerWhen a person experiences a traumatic or dangerous event, a series of chemical reactions are triggered within the body. These reactions are designed to help handle a threat and prepare to fight or run away from the threat. Physical changes include increased heart rate, change in blood pressure, and an increase in overall adrenaline.

What is PTSD?

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) defines PTSD as a disorder that can occur following a traumatic event. PTSD causes a person to become caught in a pattern that may increase anxiety, sleeplessness, anger or fear.

It may take a few days or weeks to overcome a traumatic experience and during those days of recovery one may experience signs and symptoms similar to PTSD. This is a normal reaction of the body and mind processing and healing from the experience.  When someone becomes caught in a constant pattern of re-experiencing their trauma for months and years, they are experiencing PTSD.

Events that can lead to PTSD:
• Natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes
• Car accident or a plane crash
• Terrorist attack
• Sudden death of a loved one or friend
• Rape or sexual assault
• Kidnapping
• Acts of violence such as a robbery or murder.
• Physical abuse
• Childhood neglect or abuse
• War

Symptoms of PTSD:
Re-experiencing: This is when a person continues to have the same mental, emotional, and physical experiences that occurred during or just after the trauma. This includes thinking about the trauma, seeing images of the event, feeling agitated, and having physical sensations like those that occurred during the trauma. Trauma survivors find themselves feeling and acting as if the trauma is happening again: feeling as if they are in danger, experiencing panic sensations, wanting to escape, getting angry, and thinking about attacking or harming someone else. Because they are anxious and physically agitated, they may have trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating.

Mentally re-experiencing the trauma can include:
• Upsetting memories such as images or other thoughts about the trauma
• Feeling as if the trauma is happening again (“Flashbacks”)
• Bad dreams and nightmares
• Getting upset when reminded about the trauma
• Anxiety or fear—feeling in danger again
• Anger or aggressive feelings – feeling the need to defend oneself
• Trouble controlling emotions because reminders lead to sudden anxiety or anger
• Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly

Although re-experiencing symptoms is unpleasant, such re-occurring symptoms are a sign that the body and mind are actively trying to cope with the traumatic experience.

Avoidance: People who have been through traumas usually seek to avoid reminders. Ways of avoiding thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with the trauma can include:
• Avoiding conversations and staying away from places, activities, or people that might be a reminder of the trauma
• “Shutting down” emotionally or feeling emotionally numb to things
• Trouble having loving feelings or feeling any strong emotions
• Feeling disconnected from the world and feeling alone
• Avoiding situations that might cause an emotional reaction
• Loss of interest in activities that use to bring enjoyment

Avoiding thinking about trauma or avoiding treatment for trauma-related problems may keep a person from feeling upset in the short run. But avoiding treatment of continuing trauma symptoms prevents progress coping with trauma so that people’s trauma symptoms don’t go away.

Secondary Symptoms of PTSD: Secondary symptoms are problems that come about because of having post-traumatic re-experiencing and avoidance symptoms. Associated symptoms are problems that don’t come directly from being overwhelmed with fear, but happen because of other things that were going on at the time of the trauma.

All of these problems can be secondary or associated trauma symptoms:
• Aggressive behavior toward oneself or others: This can happen due to frustration over the inability to control PTSD symptoms. Some people are aggressive because they grew up with people who lashed out when they were angry and never taught them how to cope with angry feelings. Because angry feelings tend to keep people away, they can create a barrier and make it difficult to create positive connections and get help.  Anger and aggression can cause problems at work and in relationships.
Self-blame, guilt, and shame: PTSD symptoms make it hard to fulfill current responsibilities.  People suffering from PTSD begin to question what they did or didn’t do at the time of a trauma. Often, when people try to make sense
of their experience, they blame themselves. Self-blame causes distress and can prevent a person from reaching out for help.

PTSD and co-occurring conditions:

People who suffer from PTSD often have additional conditions that co- occur with PTSD. This may include:
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Sleep disorders
• Substance Abuse

Next steps:

If you or a loved one has PTSD it is important to get help right away.  The earlier PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. It is natural  to want to avoid any painful memories or feelings from a traumatic event,  but this will only cause the PTSD to get worse.

Contact Magellan!36236426.thb

SMU’s EAP program, administered by Magellan, provides access to tools and other resources online or call us directly to speak to a professional counselor who is available everyday and at any time to provide confidential assistance at no cost to you.

Visit or call us at 877-704-5696.

Learn more about SMU’s EAP program.

Posted in Health & Wellness, HR General, Resources | Comments Off on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

Retirement and Healthy Aging

The following information is provided by  Magellan Health Services, provider of SMU’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Prepare for an active, healthy retirement

37739777.thbIf you’re nearing retirement, do you have a well-defined plan for your retired life? Today the average American spends nearly 20 years in retirement, so it’s important to prepare a life plan that closely fits your situation and needs.
As you’re nearing retirement, it’s good to consider how certain key realms of your retired life will look. Things to define include your overall mission in life, daily activities, health and wellness strategies, financial plans, social supports, and your travel wish list.

Your answers to the following questions can help you sketch your high-level retirement map.
• What is most important to you in life?
• What would you like to accomplish in the years ahead?
• What achievements have been missing from your life to date?
• How could you best use the skills you’ve acquired to make a difference for others?

Log on and learn! Look for Retirement and Healthy Aging on the Magellan member website under the In the Spotlight section on the welcome page.

To learn about other services provided by the EAP, visit the HR webpage.

Focusing on your future

futureHere are ideas for some potential new challenges to consider as you plan your future.
• Be active! With more time to yourself in retirement, be sure to get outside in the fresh air to walk, jog, hike, ride or canoe. Find buddies with whom to exercise!
• Pick a favorite cause, and volunteer some of your time. It’s a great way to help others while meeting new friends.
• Keep your brain challenged and moving forward with learning. Do online games, puzzles, chess, blogging or in-depth study.
• Explore a new path. Learn a new skill, language or art form. Attend a tai chi, yoga or cooking class. Start a new part-time career.
• Teach others the way. Draw on your experience to mentor young people.

Challenges of the sandwich generation

sandwichMillions of adults in the U.S. are active caregivers taking care of aging relatives. At the same time, over half of these caregivers are also caring for children under the age of 18, while trying to balance full- or part-time work outside the home.

If this is your situation, you may be able to ease your caregiving load by taking these steps.

Foster Family Communication
Good communication among elders, parents, and children is vital. Talking about boundaries and family member roles at the beginning of the caregiving arrangement will help everyone know what is expected of them, and will provide a sense of belonging. Don’t leave younger kids out of the discussion.

Remain Flexible
Expect care arrangements to change over time. For many families, one decision rarely settles the matter forever. Involve the children in planning for any changes.

Be sure to ask for help!
Don’t “wish” that someone would take mother to her appointment or Billy to soccer practice. Make it known to others that these are shared responsibilities and it is someone else’s turn to drive this time. Friends will likely be willing to pitch in if you ask.

Tap community services
Many organizations are designed to help caregivers. Check out your local senior center, place of worship or hospital to find out what’s available. Respite care services are often available to provide a break for caregivers.

Take care of you too!
Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and get adequate sleep and regular exercise. Carve out time to nurture your relationship with your partner or spouse; having a close, loving relationship will provide you with a continuous and much needed source of strength.

Planning your retirement finances

Assess your situation19162926.thb
Take some time to organize and review all your savings and investment assets.
Save as much as you can!

Set a savings goal and consistently work toward it
The SMU 403(b) Retirement Plan is one of the most powerful ways to build your retirement savings. Try to contribute the maximum allowed and strive to not touch any of your retirement savings before you retire.

Understand Medicare and Social Security
Medicare and Social Security will play an important role in your financial security during your retirement years. Look for email invitations to the Retirement Readiness Workshops sponsored by the SMU Department of Human Resources. The workshops, typically held in September and in the Spring, provide valuable information about these programs.

Consult with an expert!
Talking with a financial advisor can give you a valuable second opinion on your retirement readiness. Joe Valiquette, SMU’s Transamerica Retirement Planning Consultant is available on campus Monday – Friday to discuss your retirement planning needs, investment allocation, and any questions you have regarding your SMU 403(b) account.

Posted in Health & Wellness, HR General, Resources, Retirement | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Retirement and Healthy Aging

Hiring Student Workers for the Summer?

helpHiring a new student worker this summer or plan on continuing employment through the summer for a current student worker?

It’s important to understand the student’s academic status during the summer months to determine the appropriate employment and payroll paperwork.

Payroll Authorization Form (PAF):
Student Worker vs Temporary Staff – It is important that you understand the correct classification for the student for the summer with regard to the PAF.

  • If the student is not enrolled in a credit-bearing summer term class (either session 1/2/combined), they should be classified as Temporary Staff and will need a Temporary Staff PAF for the summer.
  • If the student is enrolled in a Summer Term credit-bearing class (either session 1/2/combined), they will remain classified as a Student Worker and will need a Student Worker PAF for the summer.  This applies to undergraduate and graduate student workers.
  • If the student graduates in May 2015 and is not enrolled in summer term classes, they should be classified as temporary staff.


  • All current student worker PAFs will expire on May 15, 2015.  A new PAF must be submitted if the student will be working past May 15th and will not be paid until received in Payroll.
  • International Student Workers:  After determining the appropriate PAF to use for summer, departments will continue to follow the instructions for hiring international student workers provided by the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSS).

Other Required Paperwork:

Employment classification (student worker or temporary staff) will determine the additional employment paperwork required for summer employment.  The following forms may be impacted:

  • studentForm W-4
  • SMU ID card (student vs. staff).
  • A background check may be required

The attached document highlights the classification and the required paperwork for each classification.



Student Worker Employment Packet

Temporary Staff Employment Packet




Posted in HR General, Recruitment, Working at SMU | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Hiring Student Workers for the Summer?

On-Line Beneficiary Designation Required for Insurance!

SMU provides Basic Group Life Insurance to benefits-eligible faculty and staff.  In addition, you may have elected voluntary Supplemental Life Insurance and/or Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance at some point during your SMU career. At the time you were enrolled in one or more of these plans, you were asked to submit a paper beneficiary designation form to the Department of Human Resources.

life insuranceEffective January 1, 2015, The Standard replaced Reliance Standard as the insurance carrier for these plans.  With this change, we are replacing paper beneficiary forms with on-line beneficiary designation.  All benefits-eligible faculty and staff are required to enter their beneficiaries via The Standard’s Online Beneficiary Designation System as soon as possible.

  • You must first register by entering your SMU ID or SSN, your date of birth and Company Key: standardbendes
  • Establish your User Name and Password
  • You will need name, SSN (optional), date of birth, address and phone number for each beneficiary

You must designate one or more beneficiaries for your Basic Group Life Insurance.  If you don’t have Supplemental Life and/or AD&D Insurance, bypass those sections of the online form.  It you don’t recall if you enrolled in Supplemental Life or AD&D insurance, please review your Benefits Summary by logging into> Employee Self-Service> Benefits> Benefits Summary.

checkmarkThis will only take a few minutes of your time and you will always have immediate access to your beneficiary information and the ability to make changes at any time going forward. 

Additional information regarding the SMU Life and AD&D plans can be found on the Human Resources website under the Life & Disability tab.

Posted in Health & Wellness, HR General, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on On-Line Beneficiary Designation Required for Insurance!