NDSU Staff Senate Well-being Initiatives

Last updated: July 8, 2024

Coming off the pandemic conditions, the past few years have been a wildly unpredictable time for staff. A period of rapidly changing guidelines and rules about the very nature of the work they do, NDSU employees have been challenged with staff cuts, increased work requirements, and looming threats to their continued happiness and engagement at the institution.

According to Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report, only 21% of employees feel truly engaged at work and 33% report feeling like they are thriving in their overall well-being. Conversely, most would say that they don't find their work meaningful, don't think their lives are going well, or don't feel hopeful about their future. The level of well-being of many individuals at NDSU seems to follow this trend and has diminished, resulting in them becoming disengaged in their careers or even leaving NDSU all together for one of many job opportunities in our area.

The members of Staff Senate want to see that trend turn around and make NDSU an engaged destination for the best people in our community to thrive, create meaningful careers, and to build upon our history -- together creating a legacy of the next chapter of what our institution will become.

Well-being is a cornerstone of this work and must be placed correctly as it impacts everything else built upon it. Only people in a positive mental and physical environment can be expected to build upward together and create a place where excellence across all facets of NDSU is expected and celebrated.


Well-Being Priorities

  1. Create a culture of engagement. We need to strive to have a continuous culture of improving engagement at NDSU. An institution-wide survey followed by a department-level action planning phase is one method. In order for this to be most effective, the process must be repeated on a yearly basis with timely and effective communication of the results and involve all stakeholders across the university.
  2. Promote mental health support. Make taking mental health days acceptable and promote and communicate services like EAP as a preemptive option before more serious issues arise. Explore ideas like having EAP resources on campus or having the Counseling Center work with staff and faculty as well as students.
  3. Improve the level of kindness. We want NDSU to be known as a kind environment for everyone. Living an authentic mindset like this will create additional kindness when experienced by others – kindness begets kindness. Overall, this results in a positive and healthy culture. Accomplishing this priority will also impact recruiting future students, staff, and faculty.
  4. Recognize the achievements of staff. While there are current processes in place to recognize staff such as Campus Kudos, they do not adequately cover everyone. Coming up with a different, more proactive process could involve new ideas such as point systems or simply improving the number of individuals recognized.
  5. Improve acceptance of physical breaks during workdays. By embracing the concept that health includes both our minds and bodies, we would like to promote methods to help staff take meaningful physical breaks. This requires both an activity (such as coordinated campus walks) and the willingness of managers to allow their staff to take part in them.
  6. Promote volunteerism. Understanding that a part of a person’s individual well-being is the level of outward activity they provide to others, making space for volunteerism in all of our daily work lives will help accomplish this while also providing service to our community. A current Staff Senate ad-hoc is working on a recommendation to include a percentage of volunteer time in everyone’s job description.
  7. Provide specific education/communication about our values. Staff report a need to be better grounded in the common values of NDSU. By determining who we are and communicating these values clearly and often, we can provide consistency and ensure that everyone is on common ground and knows how they fit in (and provide quality value) to NDSU.
  8. Look for and make recommendations to reduce redundancy in processes. Having to redo simple tasks wastes time and creates frustration. By identifying those procedures that take time away from other tasks, we can help explore new methods of completing them. Examples include the process of hiring graduate students; the expense report process (which requires complete start overs vs. simply fixing errors); and reporting of safety issues (needs an easier online form to streamline process).
  9. Ensure that everyone knows career development opportunities at NDSU. Each staff member should be aware of the job ladder or career path they are on, the next steps they can take, and their place in the greater organization. This needs to include both upward and lateral advancement opportunities.
  10. Promote and provide professional development opportunities. Providing funding for professional development is as important as is providing the time to take advantage of it. An application process for individuals to participate in professional development could be coupled with campus-based opportunities featuring internal and external experts. Also, managers should afford their staff members the time to take advantage of the education waivers benefit.

Ideals of Well-Being
The well-being cornerstone is composed of foundational concepts. The members of Staff Senate report these as critical ideals:

  • promoting altruism
  • empowerment in decisions
  • transparency
  • positive mental and physical health
  • creating a kindness culture
  • reinforcing values
  • effective recognition
  • less redundancy
  • trust
  • ensuring everyone’s value
  • safety
  • engagement in our work
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