P&S Council's strategic initiatives cover some common themes

The Professional and Scientific Council has proposed five big-picture goals for the upcoming year, based on the strategic initiatives it discussed at its Aug. 12 meeting. 

The council sets strategic initiatives annually, developing them in July committee meetings. The proposed 2021-22 initiatives include several topics the council has identified in prior years, including improved supervisor training, consistent salary increases and recognizing the value of P&S staff.

Council committees and executives are charged with developing ways to accomplish the initiatives, but president Chris Johnsen reminded council members -- many of them attending their first in-person meeting, as the council met virtually from April 2020 through July 2021 -- that it's important to manage expectations. The initiatives often cover repeated themes because the issues are complex and take years to address.

"It doesn’t have to get done this year. There is no pass-fail. A lot of these take a lot of time," Johnsen said.

The full text of the strategic initiatives:

  • Expanding efforts with university leadership to improve employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction through meaningful supervisor training with a focus on the fundamentals of being a supervisor at Iowa State, addressing basics such as supervisory processes in hiring and onboarding practices, recruiting diverse candidates, robust employee evaluations, and standardizing compensation practices across departments and divisions.
  • Advocating for a revised university budget model that prioritizes annual performance-based increases for P&S employees with a satisfactory performance review, ensuring that competitive, market-driven salary increases are a recurring, budgeted expense through secured funding, without sacrificing or reducing existing leave policies, benefits, and services.
  • Continuing to build and cultivate the P&S employee experience to create a work environment where P&S employees are safe and feel welcomed, supported, included and valued by the university and each other.
  • Expanding efforts to highlight the value of P&S employees and the advantages of including P&S employees in shared governance, including increasing P&S employee participation in large-scale university committees and helping to connect employees with resources that highlight the value of P&S staff, such as university awards.
  • Aiding in addressing recruitment and retention inequities through active engagement in the discussion and decision-making process during the development of the 2022-2027 ISU strategic plan, ensuring that the interests of all professional and scientific employees are represented.

The council will vote to approve the strategic initiatives at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Service satisfaction rising

The leaders of the human resources and finance service delivery teams -- associate vice president for central finance and finance delivery Heather Paris and associate vice president for HR service and strategy Dwaine Heppler -- presented a summary of service team performance in fiscal year 2021, using statistics drawn from the second annual report by the service delivery advisory committee.

Based on post-transaction surveys, ISU employees were more satisfied with the service they received from finance and HR specialists in FY21 than they were in the prior year. The portion of respondents who were satisfied or very satisfied with their interaction with a finance specialist increased to 93%, up from 88%. Respondents were satisfied after 86% of HR interactions, up from 80%.

Leading by example

With cases rising due to the more contagious delta variant, vaccinations remain the most effective tool in protecting against COVID-19, but setting a mask-wearing example also will be important this year, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the council.

Last week, senior leaders announced an adjustment in the university's face mask guidelines. Face coverings were required indoors throughout the 2020-21 academic year, but the mandate was dropped in May, though people who weren't vaccinated were encouraged to continue to wear a face mask around others. The current guidance encourages everyone, regardless of vaccine status, to wear a face mask around others indoors, though it remains a choice.

Wickert said he chooses to wear a face mask in group settings, for instance. And when he has visitors in his office, he offers to don a mask. He encouraged council members to consider wearing a face mask, too.

"I’m optimistic, personally, that with some encouragement and modeling of behaviors, we’ll see a lot of people falling back in the groove of wearing a mask," he said.