Mason Recognized in Great Colleges to Work for Survey

Posted: July 30, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: July 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm


By Catherine Ferraro

For the third year in a row, Mason was named one of the Great Colleges to Work For in seven different categories by the Chronicle of Higher Education, a newspaper covering academic news and issues. Mason was also named to the Honor Roll of four-year colleges or universities that were cited most often across all of the recognition categories.

“Mason is honored to once again be included in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2010 Great Colleges to Work For survey,” says Linda Harber, associate vice president for Human Resources and Payroll (HR). “I want to thank our leadership and all Mason faculty and staff members who create and live in our ‘Great Place to Work’ every day.”

She adds, “This recognition is a testament to Mason’s collaborative culture and the Mason community’s willingness to work together to support both the university and each other.”

This year, the Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For survey is based on responses from more than 43,000 employees at 275 institutions. Of the participating institutions, 97 were recognized for specific best practices and policies.

For the survey, administrators and faculty and staff members rated their satisfaction with 18 workplace benefits. These answers helped determine the 12 Great College recognition categories, such as collaborative governance and compensation and benefits. According to the report published in the Chronicle’s July 26 online edition, these categories are regarded as the core attributes of a great academic workplace.

In the survey results, Mason is recognized as having best practices and policies in the following categories:

  • Collaborative Governance: Faculty members are involved in decisions related to academic programs.
  • Professional/Career Development Programs: Employees are given the opportunity to develop skills and understand requirements to advance their careers.
  • Job Satisfaction: Overall job satisfaction.
  • Work/Life Balance: Policies give employees the flexibility to manage their personal lives.
  • Confidence in Senior Leadership: Leaders have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary for institutional success.
  • Supervisor or Department Chair Relationship: Supervisor makes expectations clear and solicits ideas.
  • Respect and Appreciation: Employees are regularly recognized for their contributions.

Following are some examples of why Mason received such high marks in these areas.

Support for Career Development

Through the wide array of opportunities available through HR, Mason employees are offered many opportunities to enrich themselves, both personally and professionally.

One example is the New SUPERvisor Series, a program targeted to people who supervise one or more employees and have fewer than five years of supervisory experience at Mason. The program helps Mason supervisors with professional development regarding their responsibilities and duties and helps them navigate people-management issues.

Those employees who have successfully completed the New SUPERvisor Series program or who have more than five years of supervisory experience can take advantage of the Experienced Supervisor Leadership Seminars. This program includes professional-development workshops, reviewing case studies, undertaking a professional project, networking opportunities and a mentoring program.

Mason also offers other opportunities for mentoring, including Mason Horizons for tenured faculty and Mason Footsteps for administrative/professional faculty and classified staff. Each program is designed to help employees gain perspective on their future paths by shadowing a senior administrator.

Mason also offers classes and seminars on such topics as computer training, health and wellness, and personal financial management.

Recognition in Many Forms

To ensure that faculty and staff members feel appreciated for their hard work, Mason encourages employee recognition and is constantly creating new ways to tell someone, “Job well done!”

University recognition ceremonies include the Outstanding Achievement Award, Exceptional Support Award and Sustainability Hero Award. Other recognition programs include Employee of the Month and Presidential Citation.

Immediate recognition for both small and large achievements can be given to Mason employees through awards ranging from gift cards to umbrellas and beach towels.

Programs for Work-Life Balance

Although the survey indicated increasing stress among employees in higher education because of heavier workloads, Mason offers a wealth of programs to help maintain a work-life balance.

Mason has had a formal flexible work policy in place since 2002, and approximately 700 Mason administrative/professional faculty and staff members currently take advantage of one of the university’s flexible work options. These include telework, flextime, compressed schedules, remote work, job sharing and alternate work schedules.

Through these flexible work options, with supervisor and department head approval, employees may adjust their work schedule to something other than the traditional workday. Some employees can also arrange to work at home or on an alternate campus that is closer to home for a portion of the workweek.

Summer Flex, which provides departments with an opportunity to “test drive” flexible work options, is underway and ends Aug. 21.

To help employees balance the responsibilities of work and caring for their families, the university offers such programs as support groups for working mothers and elder caregivers.

Wellness by Mason, an interdepartmental program for faculty and staff members and students, focuses on wellness, exercise and preventive screening. The program is centered on getting people moving, setting goals and encouraging activity in a noncompetitive way.

Faculty and staff members are also encouraged to take advantage of Mason’s many transportation options, such as the Commuter Choice, which provides up to $230 per month for full-time employees who use public transportation to get to work. In addition, Mason’s Parking and Transportation office oversees van and car pools and an array of free shuttles.

For more information about the opportunities available through HR, visit the website or call 703-993-2600.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu