August 8, 2019 Employee Forum Vice Chancellor Representatives’ Meeting
Attending: Rocky Riviella, Ashley Belcher, Linc Butler, Timothy Carville, Stephanie Forman, Shayna Hill, Becci Menghini, Clint Miller, Katie Musgrove, James Stamey, Carol Tresolini, Anna Wu
Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 10 a.m., leading the room in a round of introductions. She noted receiving numerous e-mails and phone calls from older employees who feel they have not received the same courtesy and treatment as younger employees. She said that this practice seems to require intergenerational training to get beyond stereotypes that new employees have lots of energy or that senior employees are resistant to change. She said that older employees have a great deal of institutional knowledge that remains valuable to departments, even following retirement.
Linc Butler said that years ago the Office of Human Resources offered a training & development course on this subject. He had recently spoken with Organization & Professional Development Director Mark Haapala about developing such a program to address intergenerational concerns. Butler cautioned that Haapala and his area will need time to think through how to present this material. Nonetheless, Haapala was excited to add this idea to the University’s training portfolio. He trusted Instructional Design Consultant Jen Baker to do the on-line design work for this course in an effective way.
Becci Menghini said that Human Resources has considered creating more effective teams given the number of campus workers aged below 30 and above 55. She said that changing general campus culture will require hard conversations. She added that the University is doing a great deal in this area and has capacity to build beyond its current capacity.
Stephanie Forman said that supervisors often unfairly assume that employees below age 30 possess technical knowledge and the ability to train others in this knowledge. At the same time, she said that employees here with decades of service have no idea how to use tools available such as social media and Qualtrics survey software. She hoped that supervisors would temper their assumptions.
Shayna Hill thought that the issue of elder employees in the workplace is indicative of a broader problem. She had heard comments from supervisors like, “I have a youth bias.” She said that older employees can develop technological skills when needed. She said it was strange in Forman’s example that management would assume younger employees would carry out instruction of needed technical skills. She added that senior employees are perfectly capable of embracing change and innovation. She said that supervisors cannot talk down to these employees. Ashley Belcher said that some version of intergenerational training should be in the University supervisory training portfolio.
Butler cautioned that not all supervisors act in the way that Hill had described. He asked how the University and its supervisors can support employees of all generations. Hill recalled the stress that older employees face when caring for their older parents. She thought that providing flex time like that provided for younger employee parents would be an appropriate first step.
Katie Musgrove recalled that the new Graduate School Dean has worked to engage adult learners. She thought that increasing staff opportunities to pursue career changes through campus degree programs would be a good idea to respond to these questions. Carol Tresolini noted the recent appointment of Todd Nicolet as Vice Provost for Digital and Lifelong Learning.
Anna Wu recalled the continuing subject of group apprenticeships and the growth of trades positions. She noted the interest of housekeepers and other tradespeople in obtaining administrative roles. Musgrove noted her background as a history major which has contributed to her knowledge base as an administrative support employee.
Rocky Riviella asked about the process for making buildings more friendly to employees and students with disabilities. He recalled his experience with a temporary disability having trouble opening and closing bathroom doors in the Medical Biomolecular Research Building (MBRB). He said that the difficulties he experienced during his temporary disability would likely be deemed unacceptable by the ADA. He asked the location of the list which says which building will receive remediation first, and how could the MBRB be placed on this list.
Anna Wu said that a list exists, but even new buildings have these sorts of difficulties. She said that as in many other things, the question comes down to available funding. Riviella asked why ADA projects could not divert funding from lower-priority projects to things like improving access doors. He was shocked at the use of funds for things like lowering restroom sinks.
Becci Menghini said that the limited pot of funds for this purpose is distributed according to the number of permanent employees using the building (??). She said that the answer to funding questions often seems unsatisfactory but said that it was important to communicate needs to the Equal Opportunity Commission and to Facilities Services. These organizations do their best to meet needs that they know about. She said that when areas are published on the federal list the University admits that these areas are out of compliance. In turn, the University must demonstrate to federal regulators that it is working to restore compliance.
Anna Wu commented that installing door openers has not been a compliance issue. There may be pushback, but the University must follow the law, which may specify that funding water fountain placement has higher priority.
Katie Musgrove thanked Anna Wu and the Facilities Services staff for their work renovating the Forum Office. She asked about the place of the 134 East Franklin Street building in the University’s Master Plan, given recent media reports. Wu said that there is no current timeline to renovate the Porthole Alley space as had been reported. Musgrove assumed thus that the Forum could rely on keeping its 134 East Franklin Street office. Wu said that the decision to replace the upstairs windows in that building is indicative of the University’s position.
James Stamey asked the prospects of making annual performance appraisals paperless. Butler said that he did not know what would occur. He said that the University has established a contract with Cornerstone on a range of projects including performance appraisals. He commented that the University had experienced challenges with the PeopleAdmin software that would lead to the implementation of this new programming software, if funding becomes available.
Butler said that this shift would be a large, multiyear project. He recalled that the ConnectCarolina build out had been painful and not user-friendly. This situation led decision-makers to choose between diverting resources to maintain ConnectCarolina or tackling talent management through final funding for different software from the UNC System Office. This latter step should improve the University’s hiring process and shift to a fully on-line process, with subsequent on-line professional development and appraisal tracking all in one place.
Stamey commented that during his time at Western Carolina University, he found that an on-line system significantly reduced the amount of paper used for performance appraisal. Paper is wasted in performance appraisals revisions here at UNC-Chapel Hill. He said that correcting mistakes and obtaining signatures for appraisals is much easier with an on-line system. Butler agreed and said that the PeopleSoft functionality is not there for this project. He said the Cornerstone software system should work better.
Shayna Hill noted that the Forum has approved several resolutions and proclamations in recent months making requests of University administration. Menghini said that University administration will try to work as better partners. Hill said that the Forum provides print and electronic copies of resolutions and faces questions from employees about the result of its work. She granted that the situation is layered and complicated with the interim status of the Chancellor. However, she said that she had not even received an email acknowledging these resolutions in many cases.
Menghini understood the need to acknowledge receipt of these resolutions. She had heard that previous administrations have sent written responses to Forum resolutions. Menghini said that this is a different time. She would be happy to put responses in writing but preferred to use the existing Vice Chancellor representatives’ meetings to talk about administrative responses to Forum resolutions. She recalled that the UNC System Staff Assembly had followed up with UNC System Vice President Matt Brody concerning its adverse weather resolution. She envisioned establishing an ongoing dialogue with the UNC-Chapel Hill Forum rather than relying on a static document. She wanted to explain the nuance of these situations face to face. However, she said that administrators would acknowledge receipt of resolutions electronically. She would update the Forum if anything happens regarding adverse weather or other resolutions.
Shayna Hill noted a question concerning health care exclusions for those with alternative gender identities. She said that the Forum hoped to advance this discussion through its resolution. Menghini said that UNC officials have discussed these concerns with UNC System Office counsel. She said that the fertility treatment question sounds like a non-starter following these conversations and those with State Health Plan officials.
Hill asked for confirmation that the State Health Plan does not intend to add coverage for fertility treatments for individuals with alternative gender identities as this coverage is not provided in other states. Regarding the other procedures raised in the Forum resolution, Menghini said that an upcoming Supreme Court case will provide clarity going forward on discrimination questions.
Timothy Carville asked if listeners could provide an update on adverse weather policy, particularly if the Condition 2 status would go away. Linc Butler said that this change would not occur in the foreseeable future. He said that UNC-Chapel Hill’s policy concerns align with the UNC System Office but that there is no appetite for a policy change among decision-makers in Raleigh. Butler said that the State Personnel Commission fleshes out policy approved by the Legislature. The State Legislature has mandated the current adverse weather policy. The UNC System Office could modify the policy if given an authorizing grant by the State Personnel Commission. This hypothetical revised policy would likely have many exceptions and caveats, Butler said.
Carville asked why the adverse weather policy applied to the recent water main event. Butler said that the policy is officially entitled the “adverse weather and emergency closure policy.” Ashley Belcher asked if administrative leave would allow employees to go home in these emergency situations. Butler said that these absences must fall under the current policy. Absences are not left to departmental decisions as they were previously. Belcher said that this policy serves those who can take their work home with them. Others are stuck using leave in these situations.
Becci Menghini said that a stalemate still exists regarding the State budget. A question arose as to whether last year’s allocation for Annual Raise Process (ARP) would stand. Menghini said that if the Governor and the Legislature are unable to agree to pass a budget, and the Legislature is unable to override the Governor’s veto, the State will use last year’s allocation. Employees will remain where they are now on salary. Linc Butler said that the ARP will not move forward until a new budget is approved.
Rocky Riviella asked where last year’s allocation for raises had gone. Butler said that there is a need for a new policy to provide new raises.
Katie Musgrove asked if Community Service Leave (CSL) could be used during University Closed Days in December. She recalled prior supervisory permission to use CSL for this purpose. Butler said that under the condition that the policy is followed, including obtaining prior approval from one’s supervisor, the permission still holds.
James Stamey asked if there were any change in budgetary language related to grievance policies. Linc Butler said that there have been no discussions in this area.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary