Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Record Update Exclusive

Voices of the Staff teams report on successes, innovations

True to its annual meeting theme “Creativity and Innovation in Tough Times,” the Voices of the Staff volunteers summarized ideas, proposals and projects developed in the past year — some of which already are implemented — via spirited live presentations that included songs and call-and-response group performances.

The meeting, presented Friday at the Four Points Sheraton, welcomed new volunteers into the program and honored those who are completing their two-year commitments as they transition to the Voices alumni team. It also provides an ongoing forum for staff from all campuses to share ideas, dialogue with leadership, and establish a stronger and broader sense of community.

Highlights included a morning keynote presentation on creativity and innovation presented by Chief Health Officer Dr. Robert Winfield, presentations by the six 2008-09 network teams — each of which focused on a topic identified as a high priority to staff — and an afternoon workshop on leading innovation presented by professor Jeff DeGraff of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

“As more and more people become aware of VOICES through participation on the network teams and the alumni group, by making presentations and beginning grassroots efforts in other areas, VOICES is becoming an integral part of a staff member's experience on campus,” said Denise Stegall, director of Human Resources Information Systems and member of the VOICES Program Management Team.

Each network team developed a range of suggestions, which are detailed on the VOICES Web site at

Special highlights of the daylong annual meeting were “Good News Presentations” to the group by each of the six Network Teams. The teams summarized their core areas of focus over the past year and the outcomes and learning that have emerged from their exploration of those topics.

• The Benefits, Health and Well-Being Team recalled its efforts to partner with the Benefits Office to design and develop an enhanced dental care plan, and the implementation of Wellness Assessments to gauge employee health and promote healthy behaviors. The Career Development Team cited the 2008 launching of the Career Development Services Web site, adding they have been contacted by The Ohio State University for advice on career development services.

• The Diversity Team reported on the $5,000 grant they received from the U-M Diversity Council with matching funds from University Human Resources to develop the DVD “Can You See Me?,” which, when completed, will highlight diversity and social identities on campus.

• The Faculty Staff Communications Team is creating a video and supporting educational materials focusing on how to promote high quality connections between staff and faculty.

• The Parking and Transportation Team’s collaboration with the Parking and Transportation Department produced improvements for commuters including year-round extended service to 1 a.m., a year-round non-stop 6:30 a.m. commuter bus from Crisler Arena to the Health System, and the creation of the Green Ride car share program with 1,500 registered users.

• The Rewards and Recognition Team’s presentation emphasized the positive effect that supervisors can have on staff through compliments and recognition of good job performance.

“As a result of the MSpeaks meeting and survey, there are new network teams in the areas of environmental stewardship, leadership development, technology/best practices and work climate, so it will be an exciting year of learning and exploring in these areas,” Stegall said. “It contributes to an increased level of commitment and engagement in the university’s core work.”

In March VOICES earned a special certificate of tribute from Gov. Jennifer Granholm who praised the dedication, leadership and personal integrity demonstrated by the program’s volunteers.

The volunteer-based initiative was launched in February 2005 to give staff at all University campuses and the Health System, a stronger voice for developing and sharing ideas about the campus community topics that matter most to staff.