Category Archives: Human Resources

SMU Program for the Protection of Minors: The Manager’s Role

Do you, or your direct report, host camps either on or off campus and do your and your employees understand SMU practice with regard to state reporting and SMU record-keeping?
Are you and/or your direct report aware of the state requirement to be trained on recognizing and reporting abuse while working at these camps (SMU employees , non-SMU camp employees, and volunteers)?

SMU seeks to provide a healthy environment for all who visit SMU and/or interact with employees.  In support of this goal, SMU goes above and beyond state law by asking all employees to complete a training program on protecting minors from abuse.

In addition to the one time training for all SMU employees, those who host camps or are employed by these camps are required by the State of Texas to complete the state mandated training every two years.  Additionally, SMU asks Program Coordinators, those who coordinate camps on behalf of others, to also re-train every two years.  Learn more on the Program for the Protection of Minors webpage.

Each year the Office of Risk Management and SMU HR host a seminar to help Camp Operators and and Program Coordinators understand their role and responsibilities with regard to  the duty to report, state reporting and record keeping,  and healthy camp environments.

Camp Operators and Program Coordinators are strongly urged to attend this seminar:


2015 Seminar
Monday April 6, 2105
3:00-4:30 pm
HTSC Forum 

Facilitated by the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, ORM and HR.

As a manager, what can you do to support your employee in understanding their responsibilities?

All identified SMU Camp Operators and Program Coordinators recently received an email regarding the training on April 6 with information on how to enroll.  You can support your employee by:

  • Asking if they have received and reviewed the information in the email and if not, to self report to the Office of Risk Management via email to
  • Allow time for employees to attend the training
  • Ensure employees understand the importance of being compliant with state law and SMU Policy 9.31: Duty to Report
  • Review your employee’s plan to meet the state requirements and SMU expectations for record-keeping and reporting abuse, should it occur

With manager support, SMU can meet its’ goal of a healthy environment!


Email Risk Management for questions regarding the role of a Camp Operator and Program Coordinator at

HR-Icons-QuestionsEmail HR for questions regarding the state mandated training and access to SMU Blackboard at

Managing a Reduction In Force: Help Yourself and Your Team

woman at desk thinkingA reduction in force is arguably one of the most difficult situations you may face in your career as a manager.  Knowing that the decisions about what positions are eliminated affect both those exiting and those remaining in the organization can be a stressful burden to carry and a tough message to deliver. Although there’s not a painless path through this process, there are steps you can take to  both care for yourself and your team, while helping build a collaborative, supportive, and innovative culture. You can move from anxiety to exciting, but it takes effort. And that effort starts with taking care of yourself.

Staying Self-Aware:

It’s natural for you to experience a fairly wide variety of feelings,  thoughts, and physical reactions as changes are being communicated.

Common Thoughts and Feelings:

  • Relief and/or guilt that your job was not eliminated
  • Anger that you have to help communicate or manage the after-effects of layoffs
  • A desire to escape the situation and pretend it’s not happening
  • Anger or frustration with senior leaders regarding layoff decisions
  • Anxiety about how to handle an employee whose position is being eliminated (whether or not you have to communicate the news)
  • Fear about people reacting in an overly emotional way to the news
  • The urge to “take care of” everyone and to make everything “ok”
  • Concern about how the employees (and their families) leaving the organization will manage
  • Sadness over relationships with particular employees who are leaving or moving to other parts of the organization
  • Fear of additional position eliminations
  • Questioning your career and the role it plays in your life
  • Questioning whether or not you should stay with the organization

Physical Signs of Stress :

  • Fatigue or an overall decline in energy
  • Changes in appetite — both wanting to eat more or a loss of appetite are common
  • Difficulty maintaining your attention or in reaching decisions
  • Sleep disturbance — inability to fall asleep, problems staying asleep,  or wanting to sleep too much

Caring For Yourself

Being aware of and acknowledging your reactions to the situation is the first step in moving forward. Improve your ability to move through this time by actively caring for yourself. Choosing to implement tips from the following sections may be helpful.

Managing Your Thoughts and Emotions:

Respect your feelings and thoughts. You are most likely responding to stress in a very natural manner. The “grief cycle,” as introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, applies to significant changes at work, so expect that you may move through different stages (denial, anger and guilt, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance) more than once and over a longer period of time than you might anticipate.

  • Avoid the temptation to withdraw completely. Instead share the situation with friends/colleagues you trust, ask for or be open to support from them.
  • Practice patience—with yourself and others—during this time when irritability and anxiety may surface more often.
  • Seek clarity about your supervisor’s expectations of you and your team. Be sure you understand any new goals for your division and department.
  • Set your goals and make progress toward them, but don’t try to be perfect or all things to all people.
  • Dedicate 10-15 minutes to planning at the start (or end) of every day. Putting your plans in writing helps you be more productive.
  • Prioritize the most important tasks every day so that you use your time and energy toward your highest priorities.
  • Work a quick walk into your day. Even 10 minutes will help clear your head and help you think more clearly.
  • Work healthy foods into your diet and avoid leaning on caffeine and sugar to get you through the day.
  • Try keeping a consistent sleep schedule and know you may need more rest in times of intense change.
  • If you feel “stuck” in any particular stage of the grief cycle, consider contacting SMU’s confidential employee assistance program (EAP) provided by Magellan Health.
  • Consult a member of the Employee Relations team in Human Resources for additional specific strategies to help manage yourself and your performance during times of change.
  • Join Wellpower and choose to focus on just a few areas of your well-being.

Supporting Your Team Members

  • Acknowledge that the situation is difficult and if team members need to talk, try to listen without becoming defensive or impatient.
  • Be honest and avoid making promises you’re unsure you can keep.
  • Schedule extra time to stay in communication with your manager and your team so you can keep everyone informed as needed.
  • Individuals leaving the organization will be receiving a severance package which includes career support services. Although it may seem easier to dwell on the negative, try to remain optimistic about their ability to move forward successfully.
  • Allow others time and space to process the changes. Be a conduit for information and support, but try avoid the urge to “fix” the situation for others.
  • Explain or clarify the expectations for any new team member or one whose responsibilities have shifted. People want to understand both “why” their roles are changing and “what” they are expected to do differently.
  • Speak up when you have an idea you think might help your organization move forward. This is a time when creative problem-solving is in high demand.
  • Although we are striving for excellence, perfection is unattainable. Be gentle on your team, while challenging them to grow and adapt quickly.
  • If you see a member of your team struggling more than expected, suggest he/she talk with the EAP. It’s completely confidential and all phone calls are free as are the first three in-person visits.
  • Take advantage of technical expertise and support from OIT and any other types of education and support from Human Resources or other departments.

Taking these steps can help you feel more empowered in your role as a manager and move your team forward through a time of ambiguity and change toward a healthy culture and level of productivity.

If you have questions or want to consult with a member of the employee relations team, email us at or call the HR                                                        front desk at 8-3311 and ask to speak with a                                                      member of the ER Team.

Recognizing and Reducing Anxiety in Times of Health or Other Crises

You or a member of your team may be feeling worried and fearful about the recent cases of Ebola occurring in our Dallas community.

What can you do as a manager?

Situations like this can increase levels of stress and anxiety for some people, so it’s important to become educated about the sources of stress and to understand and be watching for some of the triggers or red flags you or others may have.

Uncertainty within the community can cause both physical, emotional and mental reactions. People may feel angry, enraged, confused, sad, or even guilty. When those feelings don’t go way over a few weeks, or when they seem to get worse, it may be appropriate to seek help.  Among the signs to look for over time are:

  • Feeling tense and nervous
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive crying
  • Isolation or withdrawal from others
  • Excessive alcohol and/or drug use
  • Difficulty concentrating/loss of productivity

When to seek professional help

You should get immediate help from a trained professional if you or a member of your team is experiencing any of these problems:

  • Inability to maintain a normal routine at work or home
  • Feeling helpless, overly agitated, or anxious about the future
  • Having thoughts of hurting oneself or others
  • Excessive use alcohol and drugs

Contact SMU’s Employee Assistance Program – Magellan Health

If you are concerned about a member of your team or a colleague, you may wish to let them know that free confidential support is available and provide them with the following information:phone

  • Our Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), offered through Magellan Health, provides access to tools and other resources online.
  • Employees can also call Magellan directly 24 hours a day to speak to a professional counselor who can provide free and confidential assistance immediately.
  • All faculty and staff, as well as their dependents, are eligible for up to three (3) face-to-face counseling visits per year through the EAP at no cost.
  • If further counseling is needed, an outside resource will be recommended by Magellan based on the issues involved and the individual’s ability to pay.
  • The cost of additional visits are covered under the individual’s medical plan.

Visit our webpage for more information or call (877) 704-5696. IfMagellan logo you have questions about using the EAP, or want more guidance in how to have referral conversations with an employee, email us at

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer specific information about the Ebola virus on their website:

This document is for your information only. It is not meant to give medical advice and should not be used to replace a visit with a provider. If you have specific concerns, please consult your medical provider. 

Updates to HR Policies – What managers need to know


41866685.thbThe Department of Human Resources is updating its policies in Chapter 9 of the online Policy Manual. Our goal entails completing the majority of the policies by the end of this fiscal year (May 2015). We are reviewing and updating multiple polies at each phase of the process. Our first round (9 policies) has been reviewed by representatives of several constituent groups and approved by the President’s Executive Council.

The following policies have been updated, approved, and are currently in effect. Here are the highlights of what you need to know as an SMU manager:

Paid Medical Absence for Staff, Policy 9.21
The main change to this policy is the elimination of the six-month waiting period for paid medical absence leave. Employees cannot plan when they are sick – it just happens. As a result, employees who come to work sick in order to be compensated often expose other employees to illness. Once employees have sick time accrued, they may take that time when they need to be absent due to illness. Instances where employees do not have enough sick time accrued will be handled on a case-by-case basis. For further information, contact

Staff Bereavement (New), Policy 9.39
In the past, time off for bereavement was taken from accrued medical leave. A new policy has been created where employees who need to be absent for family bereavement will be compensated for up to three days of paid bereavement leave. In circumstances where additional time off is warranted and approved, an employee may use two additional days of accrued medical leave. If paid medical leave accruals have been exhausted, the absence will be compensated from vacation accruals. If the vacation accruals have been exhausted, the employee may request unpaid leave, not to exceed a total Bereavement Leave of five days. Managers should read the policy for definitions of “family member” and further information about bereavement leave.

Tuition Benefits, Policy 9.28
Employees often wish to take advantage of the generous tuition benefits that SMU offers. The revisions combined two policies into one with the title of “Tuition Benefits” (formerly 9.28 Tuition Benefits for Dependent Children of Faculty and Staff Members and 9.29 Tuition Benefits for Faculty and Staff Members and their Spouses). The revisions also further define tuition benefits coverage and clarify that the cost of attending SMU non-credit bearing courses is not covered.

In addition, since hours can vary by degree program, there is no longer a stipulation that at least half of the hours spent in class must not involve time off from regular working hours. Aligned with current practice, “Domestic Partner” has been added to all references of the spousal tuition benefit. The policy also clarifies that the tuition benefit covers only one degree for a spouse or domestic partner. For more information about tuition benefits, review the Tuition Benefits webpage.

Personal Conduct, Policy 9.12
A section has been added to address attendance, absenteeism, and tardiness (section E). SMU expects employees to be reliable and punctual in reporting for scheduled work. As a manager, you have the right and responsibility to hold accountable those employees who have unapproved absences or continued tardiness. Be sure to document any corrective action that you take, as outlined in Corrective Action for Staff, Policy 9.13 (the policy listed next). An employee who is absent and fails to report to work without notification to the manager for a period of three consecutive days will be considered to have voluntarily terminated the employment relationship.

Corrective Action for Staff, Policy 9.13
This policy was previously titled “Corrective Disciplinary Procedures for Non-Faculty Personnel.” The language and procedures have been updated to accurately reflect the current philosophy and practices used in managing employee performance. This policy provides clarity on when a manager should contact the Department of Human Resources, and also clarifies the manager’s role, outlining expectations and proper documentation.

The updates to this policy define “good standing” and its impact on eligibility for transfer and rehire of employees. It also renames the three corrective action steps that are outlined. The third step, Final Notification, no longer allows for a day off with pay. As a manager, it is important for you to understand your role in the corrective action process. For further information, see the full policy and view the Corrective Action webpage.

Pre-Employment Screenings, Policy 9.8
This policy was previously titled “Employment of Persons Convicted of Criminal Offenses.” As an SMU manager, it is important for you to know that all employees must undergo a background check (pre-employment screening) prior to starting work at SMU. You will need to make sure your candidates submit the release form and wait to hear back from HR before making an official offer. This policy identifies categories of convictions that may/may not yield an offer of employment.

Also, SMU now reserves the right to conduct background checks on current employees under certain circumstances, at any time during employment. If adverse results are identified on the background check, the Department of Human Resources will initiate a review with other University officials and the manager to determine what action might be taken.

In addition, after being hired, employees should self-report to the Department of Human Resources within five (5) business days if they have been convicted, pleaded guilty, or received deferred adjudication or similar disposition before a civilian or military court for any criminal offenses (excluding minor traffic misdemeanors). If a current employee is charged with an offense, the University will conduct a review. A final decision regarding continued employment will be made by University officials and the Department of Human Resources.

Termination of Employment, Policy 9.16
The revisions consolidated two policies, 9.16 Termination of Employment and 9.17 Exit Process into one overall policy, 9.16 Termination of Employment. This policy outlines the amount of advanced notice an employee must give to his/her manager before leaving SMU. An employee should also submit a letter of resignation to his/her manager at the time notice is given.

Exiting employees are required to turn in their University ID card, pay any money owed to the University, and return all University property prior to leaving. Pay may be withheld from the final paycheck for any legal debt owed to the University.

Managers should note that based on feedback provided by exiting employees in recent years, an exit interview is no longer required. Instead, a checklist, Employee Frequently Asked Questions, and detailed information regarding the exit process will be emailed to the exiting employee prior to leaving SMU. Of course, exiting employees may request an appointment with a Benefits Representative if they have additional questions. Managers should view the Manager Checklist and Manager Frequently Asked Questions documents when one of their employees is leaving SMU. These documents may be found on the HR website under Resources/Manager Resources/Exiting Process.

Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse, Policy 9.31
This policy was originally written to capture a phased-in roll-out of the program across campus. Now that the roll-out is complete, wording referencing the roll-out has been removed. What remains refers to Texas law that requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities. State law also requires any individual employed in a position involving contact with minors at a campus program to complete a training program approved by the State of Texas. The training program must be completed within the two years prior to the start date of the program, and recertification is required every two years for the individuals in these programs. All SMU faculty, staff, and student employees are required at the start of employment to successfully complete an approved training program on sexual abuse and child molestation. Training may be accessed via SMU Blackboard at

If you or your employees suspect child abuse or neglect has taken place on the SMU campus or at any SMU function, program, or event, immediately make a report to the SMU Police Department at 214.768.3333. SMU employees must also report such conduct to their manager or department head, but merely reporting the incident to a manager or department head is insufficient. If there is an immediate threat, call 911. For further information, please read the entire policy and/or visit the SMU Program for the Protection of Minors.

Reorganization Policy, 9.40
This new policy is a formalization of current practices around various reorganization methods. The policy lists possible reasons that may prompt reorganization and includes current regulatory language. The policy indicates that the Department of Human Resources should be contacted prior to taking any action.

To review the full text of the policies, visit the online SMU Policy Manual. You will need to log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password.

Please have conversations with your employees about these policy updates, when appropriate. A post about the policy updates was announced in the HR Headlines e-mail that was sent out to all benefits-eligible employees on August 25. Additionally, employees who are subscribed to the RSS feed for the HR Blog would have received notification when the post was published. You may wish to share this post with them as another notification about the policy updates, as well as a lead-in to conversations about the updates.

For questions about any of these policy updates, contact

Read more about HR’s strategy to update all HR policies in the SMU Forum.

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