At the University of Michigan, the central University Human Resources office provides overarching support and a distributed approach that allows individual schools and colleges to tailor their HR strategies to their specific needs.
“The beauty of that is that we get to design what our general HR practices, programs, and initiatives will be,” said Anna Ruszkiewicz, HR director at Michigan Ross. “It allows us to be creative and try new things.”
The Michigan Ross Office of Human Resources
Led by Ruszkiewicz, the Ross HR team is composed of eight staff members who orchestrate the various employee life-cycle processes. From recruitment and onboarding to navigating everyday work experiences, career development, and off-boarding, the Ross HR team is working hard to create a positive work environment. Michigan Ross HR also organizes events and workshops for faculty and staff, including the pumpkin decorating contest, flu shot clinic, self-defense training, Run-Hide-Fight, and all of the onboarding events.
As one might imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic brought recruitment and onboarding to a halt with a university-wide hiring freeze. Since the hiring freeze was lifted in the fall of 2021, Ross HR has been helping the Ross community fill vacancies and adjust to a new normal of hybrid work.
“The past couple of years have highlighted the challenges and implications of being understaffed,” said Ruszkiewicz. “Coming out of the pandemic, there was a lot of pent-up back-filling that we needed to do. In FY22 and FY23, we have filled about 120 positions each year. So far in FY24 (knock on wood), we are seeing turnover begin to stabilize, which has allowed us to turn our attention to more strategic initiatives.”
Recognizing Faculty and Staff
As part of their strategic initiatives, HR has been expanding and building on how they recognize faculty and staff for their contributions.
“One of our core goals for the year is to make Ross an employer of choice by contributing to a culture that makes Ross a great place to work,” said Ruskeiwicz. “We believe that our staff recognition programs can contribute to a positive culture.”
In addition to the Anniversary Lunch on Us program and Anniversary Celebration Luncheon, the Ross Way Excellence Awards have been expanded to include additional recognitions and awards for staff members, changes have been made to the Ross Stars program, and a new Celebrating You program has been introduced.
The Ross Stars program allows staff members to recognize and show appreciation for their colleagues’ work by sending them a Ross Star — a virtual certificate for excellence that includes a note from the sender. Anyone can be nominated for a Ross Star at any time. However, going forward, out of all the nominations received each year, one winner will be selected and awarded a special prize.
As part of the new Celebrating You program, each unit is given a budget to spend on employees at its discretion. That budget can be used to celebrate a job well done, birthdays, life events, the completion of big projects, or simply to show appreciation.
Besides the above-mentioned programs, Michigan Ross HR is always looking for ways to improve their practices and provide additional support and recognition to faculty and staff. They are also looking for ways to improve employee engagement and manager effectiveness.
“The school as a whole has doubled in the past ten years in both staff and faculty, so we’re still continuing to grow and do better,” said Ruszkiewicz. “We want to make Ross an aspirational place to work, and we want to set faculty and staff up for success when they get here.”