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March 7, 2016

Campus WorkLife Office opening in April

Michigan State will be opening a new WorkLife Office in April. The office will serve as a single point of contact for all MSU faculty and staff, helping them manage workplace and life transitions, providing programs and resources for MSU faculty and staff and providing support for the fit between work and personal life.

According to Barbara Roberts, founding executive director, some of the most frequently asked questions have been about the restructuring of the Women’s and Family Resource Centers, to combine services for employees under a broader mandate, and to provide a unified, central resource for work-life issues. Some familiar programs will continue and new enhanced services will draw on the long-standing successes of these units as well. Roberts responds here to questions related to the launch of the office, as well as its role within the MSU community.

1. When is the WorkLife Office opening? When are the Women’s Resource and Family Resource Centers moving?

New office space is anticipated to be ready April 1, on the first floor of Linton Hall. I anticipate that both the Women’s and Family Resource Center staff and services will be fully moved in by the beginning of May.

2. Who is taking on services for student parents and women students?

Because the WorkLife Office will focus on MSU faculty and staff, an additional position has been created in Student Affairs to assist student parents. A search is underway for the resource coordinator for student parents, whose office will be located in the Student Services Building.

Leadership programs, resources and events for women students formerly supported by the Women’s Resource Center are anticipated to be integrated with various units with common interests in Student Affairs and Graduate Student Life and Wellness. Close liaison with a variety of related student organizations will facilitate transfer of resources, functions and information.

3. What will the MSU WorkLife Office do/be responsible for?

The WorkLife Office will support family care needs, career transitions, workplace challenges and relocation needs, along with research into best practices for flexible work arrangements in a contemporary employment setting. Educational programs, support and advocacy around workplace dynamics, resources and climate will be provided. There will be an announcement when the new, updated website goes live and people will be encouraged to visit the site to learn more.

4. Why is the WRC part of this office?

The Women’s Resource Center has expanded its mission to include people of all gender identities, and that expertise will contribute to all our work, informing programs and services to be more responsive to the wide range of needs represented in our diverse community. Work-life issues are not just women’s issues, but many work-life initiatives have their genesis in women’s participation in the workplace, and that experience will be richly informative in designing and implementing work-life programs for employees.

5. Why is the Family Resource Center joining this new office?

The Family Resource Center has been at the forefront of developing family-centered resources, programs and services as well as helping to found the national association for work-life offices for many years. It’s only natural that this expansion would include the FRC’s background, expertise and programs going forward.

6. How will new and current employees locate services previously provided by the centers?

When the new WorkLife Office website is live, the former units’ sites will redirect to the WorkLife Office. Particular programs may be found in their new locations via keyword search functions on the MSU homepage search engine.

7. Have the needs of women been addressed so that there is no longer a need for the center or will another campus unit provide these services?

The needs of women, and all people on campus, are not met solely by services or programs that are based on identity characteristics. Rather, it is time for services across campus to meet the needs of all their constituents; to take responsibility for being aware of and addressing needs formerly served by identity-based organizations, designing more broadly for inclusion so everyone is included wherever they choose to participate. Inclusion and advocacy are everybody’s business.

8. Aren’t there already a number of services available across campus to help employees? How is the WorkLife Office different?

The WorkLife Office leads the community in partnership to create an inclusive, responsive work environment where all employees are respected and supported toward well-being in work and personal lives. As the one-stop shop for work-life issues, the WorkLife Office will collaborate with partners across campus to connect employees with what they need to fit together their busy lives. The initiation of the WorkLife Office reflects MSU’s desire to meet the needs of our employees with high quality, coordinated and contemporary services. Whether we provide consultation, education, resources, or referrals, the staff of the WorkLife Office will coordinate services to provide compassionate and understanding consultation and support to employees at MSU to ensure more satisfying and productive careers.

People are encouraged to visit the office in Linton Hall or visit our website to learn more. The WorkLIfe Office will host a symposium on work-life from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 1 at the Kellogg Center. Seating is limited, so please register through the registration link.

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