Tag Archives: work-life blending

Spring 2018 Lunch & Learn Schedule

Want to learn more about staying physically active, eating well, and reducing stress? Bring your lunch and join us for a wellness-themed Lunch & Learn. Previous sessions have included presentations on biking, starting a running program, eating well, knitting for stress reduction, and acupuncture, to name just a few. Subscribe to the Employee Wellness newsletter to learn about these events and more by emailing Shannon Brodeur, sbrodeur@mtu.edu.

LunchLearnPlateUpcoming Schedule:

January 21: Essential Oils 101 with Superior Essentials. From everyday applications to basic science, you’ll leave this information-packed session with invaluable tools to support your health with essential oils.

February TBD: Sample Vegan dishes with the Copper Country Vegans. Learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet and how to get started. The MUB will be catering this event and offering several vegan dishes to sample.

April 11: Get in Gear with the Campus Bike Initiative and BIKE!. Enjoy a “commuter bike” fashion show while learning about commuting by bike, bike safety, and Bike to Work Day, coming in May.

Have an idea for a wellness-themed Lunch & Learn? We’d love to hear from you.

Ann Kitalong-Will Elected to CUWFA Board of Directors

Ann Kitalong-Will, Executive Director, Business Operations & University WorkLife Connections Office, has been elected to serve on the Board of the College and University Work-Family Association (CUWFA). As a Board member, Ann will serve a 3 year term as the Chair of the Elections committee.

With member universities and colleges across the United States and Canada, CUWFA “provides leadership in facilitating the integration of work and study with family/personal life at institutions of higher learning.” The organization meets its mission by providing support to member institutions, sharing resources and developing best practices, and conducting research in the Work-Family field with regard to strengthening the integration of employee work and family/home lives that impact public policy and professional practice in higher education.

Congratulations to the 2017 Cohort of Trained Staff Mentors

Ann Kitalong-Will, Business Operations and Chair of the WorkLife Advisory Committee, is proud to announce that Michigan Tech’s second cohort of trained staff mentors completed the university’s Staff Mentor Training program on September 27, 2017. These mentors join our first cohort of staff mentors who are available to partner with staff wishing to develop professional knowledge and skills, create strategies for effective home-work blending, get to know Michigan Tech and the Keweenaw, or grow their networking skills.

Michigan Tech’s WorkLife Connections Office developed the Whole-life Mentoring Model, which is based on the philosophy that assisting employees to grow both personally and professionally empowers our employees to grow in their careers and to give back to our university and local communities. The Whole-life Mentoring Model was developed with funding received from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

If you are interested in being mentored, please submit a Mentoring Interest Form (click HERE). New staff members and union employees (UAW, AFSCME, POA) are especially encouraged to apply to partner with a mentor.

The 2017 Mentor Cohort graduates are:

  • Sharon Attaway (Career Services)
  • Nancy Banfield (IT–Operations)
  • Bobbie Dalquist (Financial Services & Operations)
  • Stacey Donnelly (Career Services)
  • Shelley Farrey (Career Services)
  • Jodie Filpus-Paakola (School of Business & Economics)
  • Beth Frederick (Facilities Management–Custodial Services)
  • Wendy Hackman (Facilities Management–Custodial Services)
  • Laura Harry (Memorial Union)
  • Kristi Kesti-Pieti (Sponsored Programs Office)
  • Karen Maki (IT–Business Operations)
  • Tanya Maki (Human Resources)
  • Tammy Monette (Facilities Management–Custodial Services)
  • Josh Myles (IT–Operations)
  • Kimberly Puuri (Compliance, Integrity, & Safety Office)
  • Brenda Randell (Office for the Associate VP for Administration)
  • Michelle Reed (School of Technology)
  • Heather Sander (Office of Advancement)
  • Lori Weir (Facilities Management–Administration Services)

Financial Wellness Lunch and Learn


WorkLife Connection offers the third Financial Wellness Lunch and Learn from noon to 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 28 in MUB Alumni Lounge A. Chris Riesgraf, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones, will discuss strategies to “Bring Balance to Your Budget.”

Learn about the basics of budgeting, how to sharpen your spending and savings strategy, and the importance of credit and debt. If you are saving for college, planning for retirement, or have any investment goals in mind, you’ll find this Lunch and Learn very informative and helpful to reaching your goals.

Feel free to bring your lunch; beverages will be provided.

Welcome to our New WorkLife Intern!

We recently welcomed our new WorkLife Connections Intern, Morgan Laajala, to our team. Please read on to get to know her a bit better. We are looking forward to her working with us and helping to build WorkLife Connections programs here at Michigan Tech!

Hi everyone! My name is Morgan and I’m the new intern for the WorkLife Connections Program. I have been working to help organize events, researching other university’s work life programs, and building awareness to the program by setting up social media pages.

I am a second yemlaajalaar business marketing student at Michigan Tech. There was never a question about what university I wanted to attend, as it was always this one. My mom and two sisters graduated from here, and I couldn’t wait to follow in their footsteps. While my classmates were researching and choosing colleges during our senior year, I was confident in my choice and I have not regretted it. I’ve been enjoying my classes so far and I’m excited to continue learning more. I’m not quite sure what I plan to do with my degree yet, but I have at least two more years to figure that out. All I know is that I hope it allows me to travel. During my time here, I would love to study abroad for a semester.

Speaking of travel, I got to do some this summer when my best friends and I took a ten-day road trip out east. We visited New York City for the first time, wandered around Washington, D.C., swam in the Atlantic Ocean, hiked Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, white water rafted in Tennessee, stayed in a cabin high in the Smoky Mountains, and finished off our trip in Nashville. I have always wanted to travel, and after that trip, I only wanted to see more beautiful places! I am so lucky to have these crazy friends that are always up for every new adventure. When I’m not dreaming about my next travel destination, I enjoy meeting new people and trying new things, painting, writing, and spending time with friends and family.

I am excited to be a part of this important program at Michigan Tech. I have been researching other universities such as Yale University, Michigan State University, and Brown University. There are many different dimensions that come with a Work Life program, and I am gaining knowledge on what those are. I hope I can be useful in helping the WorkLife Connections program meet its goals to help Michigan Tech’s faculty, staff, and students balance their work and home lives.

An Invitation to Staff to Join Michigan Tech’s Pilot Staff Mentoring Program

The Staff Mentoring Program Committee invites all university staff interested in working with a trained mentor to fill in the Mentoring Interest Form. Forms must be submitted by August 15, 2016 to be considered for participation. Click HERE to fill out the Mentoring Interest Form.

In 2015, Michigan Tech received a grant from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to develop a staff mentoring program, designed to train mentors here on campus who would like to work with their colleagues to assist with things like:

  • Finding ways to more effectively blend work and home life demands
  • Developing job skills to assist with career growth and advancement
  • Learning about the University and opportunities to become more involved
  • Improving professionalism and communication skills
  • Finding opportunities to network and meet people from other departments
  • Addressing challenging workplace situations
  • Learning more about University resources and benefits

Seventeen mentors have recently completed their training; about two-thirds of these trained mentors are members of the AFSCME and UAW unions. The overall goal of the Staff Mentoring Program is to provide staff with an opportunity to work with a trusted colleague to help with career growth and development here at Michigan Tech.

Questions? EMail worklife@mtu.edu or call Ann Kitalong-Will, Staff Mentoring Program Committee Chair, at 7-1809. See also the 2016 Staff Mentor List.

New Mothers’ Room in University Library

We are pleased to announce that a new lactation space, the Mothers’ Room, has been added in the J. R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. The Mothers’ Room is located in room G01B on the Garden Level of the Library. Users may stop at the Library Service Desk for directions to the Mothers’ Room.

Michigan Tech currently has nine lactation spaces for nursing mothers on campus. These spaces are available for faculty, staff, and students who are breastfeeding and who need a quiet, comfortable, and private space to pump breast milk or to feed your baby.

“I was contacted by Carol Makkonen from the Library to let us know they were interested in converting a single bathroom on the Garden Level into a new lactation space,” said Ann Kitalong-Will, Chair of the WorkLife Advisory Committee. “University Librarian Ellen Marks was very supportive of the project. I was happy to be able to collaborate with the Library to add this space.”

“Our newest mother has been using the space daily, and she loves it,” added Makkonen.

Visit the WorkLife Connections Lactation Support page for information on all our lactation spaces.

When Grandpa was like a Kid Again

By Amelia Newman

We used his old blue camper van for a long time after he passed. I remember when my dad took our grandpa in to live with us. With my grandpa’s failing health, my dad flew to Florida to pick him up and bring him to our backwoods place. We gave him a bedroom and had a newer, bigger shower installed. I was pretty young at the time, so I didn’t understand much of what was going on with his health and slower lifestyle. But I remember feeling very concerned as a young child when I noticed such things as drops of blood on his bed blanket. My dad would help him change and bathe, which was no easy task. I am told that I would sit on his lap and have big intellectual conversations with him; I just wish that I could remember those conversations. I do remember however, how Grandpa would have my brother go and fetch his cigars for him, and it makes me smile as I can faintly see the smoke gently rolling off one of his cigars as he sat on our porch.

I am grateful that my siblings and I were able to spend some of my grandpa’s last days with him, because now that is all we have. But, in-home elderly care is no shiny job, and in many ways can be similar to taking care of another child. Many employees do this all-consuming job for a parent in addition to holding their full-time job, yet few feel encouraged by it. Our elderly loved one feels restless because of being cooped up after all their thriving life experiences. Sometimes they are stuck in one of their own time eras, talking for hours on end, day after day about it. Sometimes they are extremely irritable or discontent because of their ailments. More often than not, the daily grind of elderly care leaves an employee wishing they could either get a cruise away from it all, or send their parent away on one.

As you care for your parent or elderly relative, remember that it will not last forever. Remember that one day you will be in their shoes too. Remember that just as you are frustrated, they are frustrated with themselves too. If they are overly cranky, stand up and do not let them get the better of you with their demands. Lay down some rules, so to say, because it’s your house now. Give yourself a break from them now and then too; this is vital. Getting your elderly involved in community groups and activities is good for both them and for you.

It’s really quite beautiful how life goes on through the passing of generations. In many cultures, such as African tribes, stories and values are passed on from the elderly to the younger. So hold on to the stories of your parents, grandparents, and great aunts. Write them down or record them if you can. This is an ancient practice and a valuable one. And last but not least, if there is any enjoyment to be had with your loved one, laugh a little!


Don’t Let the Water get Stagnant: Tips for a Learning Organization

By Amelia Newman

We are an output society. Education has taught us this. From the time we start college, for instance, we push out assignments. One after another, just to get it done, whether we truly understand what we’re doing or not. A common phrase in the scholastic world is, “I’m good at BS-ing.”

So we morph to fit into a society that’s more about the doing than about the understanding. And so do our organizations. At some point many of us shut our brains down and are no longer learning new things, but rather going off of what we already know.

Therefore the question is raised: how do we mix up the stagnant water? How do we keep moving toward a culture of learning organizations? Here are a few tips that any one of us can either initiate or start practicing to help keep our schools and work environments moving in a healthy direction.

Tip 101:

Be question-friendly. Show that you can both be asked a question and can answer one for someone too. This is huge. Many people either in school or in the  workplace get stumped on something with a simple solution all because they are afraid to ask a question. We’re afraid to appear dumb in a smarter and smarter world. So laugh a little about your mistakes, and in the process say what you’ve learned. This will help a shy person feel that you are approachable and they may come and ask you a question.  Maybe there are even some things you’ve thought you should ask your boss recently, but then you told yourself,”No, I’ll just figure it out.” Well, why not go ahead and ask?

Tip 102:

Out with the old, in with the new. Talking about what’s new, trying out new fads, new technologies, and new health options can really help make the workplace more exciting. When a work culture is too sedentary, it does not encourage learning and change within the organization. But showing a co-worker how you utilize your android phone for organizing and planning, sharing how your new version of software has really improved your job, or how your new desk chair has really improved your back posture, can help your organization overall to stay up to date.

Tip 103:

Read books related to what you do. One can always improve and learn more. Have some fun with this and don’t treat it like a college textbook that you want to avoid. There are many good, creative books out there with tips for a healthy workplace, and you are a big part of what gives your organization its own culture.

Tip 104:

Inspiration is key. This is fundamental for other things such as a creativity, innovation, invention, etc., so do what it takes to stay inspired. Maybe it’s certain people in your life that inspire you, a nature photography hobby you do on the side, or traveling to a place you’ve never been. Whatever it is, take some time between your work and personal life to stay inspired.

Tip 105:

Take a break to recharge. This goes along with focusing on your breathing, especially when you’re stressed out. It also means taking care of you. If you’re like me, stress takes a huge toll on you mentally and physically. I find that when I’m especially stressed out, I’m sitting there not breathing well and not really learning anything in class or at work. If I try to work on something I have to do, I can’t focus. So I have to stop and recharge with something relaxing, in order to re-feed the brain.

We are real people with real lives who need to make real decisions that have important things at stake. We are not computers, simply calculating and functioning—though sometimes we may feel like it. Whatever the case, we all need to stop a little and recharge, taking a little thought for what we are doing.

WorkLife Annual Survey Still Open

We in the WorkLife Advisory Committee appreciate the feedback you have provided to us thus far regarding your concerns and challenges when it comes to work-life integration.

Our first annual survey remains open, and will be open until December 28, 2015. This survey asks for information relating to challenges you face between work-related demands and home-life responsibilities, childcare needs, adult-care needs, and self-care needs. We also ask about what areas of work-life blending you would be most interested in or find most helpful.

Please help us out by taking about 10-15 minutes to provide your feedback. Click here to take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/worklife_connections .

All answers are completely anonymous.

Our goal in the New Year is to develop new programs for you, based on the data provided through the survey.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at worklife@mtu.edu . If you are interested in serving on the committee, please email us as well.

Thank you for your help.