myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: October 2, 2019

Fall, Winter, and Spring Holidays Reminder

Graphic of tree experiencing 4 seasons

As you plan for the end of the calendar year and the 2020 Spring Term, here’s a reminder of Penn’s upcoming holiday observances.


Thanksgiving—Thursday and Friday, November 28 & 29, 2019

Christmas Day—Wednesday, December 25, 2019

New Year’s Day—Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—Monday, January 20, 2020

Memorial Day—Monday, May 25, 2020

Special Winter Vacation

Each year, the President, Provost and EVP assess the feasibility of observing Penn’s traditional Special Winter Vacation. Based on this assessment, the Special Winter Vacation granted to faculty and staff will be December 26, 27, 30, and 31, 2019.

For a complete list of this fiscal year’s holidays and details on policies regarding work over Special Winter Vacation, visit the Almanac.

Developing a Powerful Presentation

Woman confidently presenting idea to colleagues

You’ve created the perfect slide deck for your big presentation. You’ve tried to prep for days in advance on how to express your ideas, but feel nervous about presenting in front of your colleagues. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many people experience anxiety at the thought of public speaking. Fear is the main reason most people avoid giving presentations or struggle to deliver a solid performance.

Penn’s Presentation Skills workshop will show you how to prepare for workplace presentations, develop the tools you need to captivate your audience, and get your message across clearly.

This free, on-campus workshop will be held October 29, from 12:30pm-1:30pm at 3624 Market Street, 1A South. In this class you will learn presentation fundamentals including:

  • The four “musts” to delivering a highly engaging and captivating presentation;
  • How to define the objective of your presentation to keep your efforts on target;
  • How to manage the interest and attention of an audience with a well-paced presentation that meets the demands of today’s listener;
  • Identifying the types of post-presentation follow-up that can satisfy your objective.

The workshop will also cover topics such as audience perceptions and how to field questions like a pro.

Get ready to sharpen your presentation skills by registering now for this free workshop.

More professional development resources are available at

Work and Family Month Highlights

Asian father and daughter at home spending time together.

October is National Work and Family Month, a time to focus on the relationship between your career, your home, and your community. To support work and family balance and integration, Penn offers Work-Life programs to help you care for yourself and your loved ones—whether you’re a new parent, searching for senior care, or working on your own personal development.

Here are some highlights from Penn’s Work and Family Month schedule. All programs are free for benefits-eligible faculty and staff. See the full list of events and register here, or click the dates below.

Balancing Work-Life-Family
October 3, 12:30-1:30pm

Participate in an open discussion on how to achieve your personal and professional goals when you have competing demands on your time. This workshop focuses on reducing stress levels while also giving effective tips on reducing feelings of discomfort and guilt as you work to balance work and home life.

Emotional Intelligence as Vital Skills – Responding in Difficult Situations or in Times of Change
October 9, 12:30-1:30pm

Discover the tools you need to respond effectively in difficult situations or in times of change. By gaining a better understanding of stress and emotions, such as why they matter and how to manage and express emotions, participants can achieve a new level of self-awareness.

Webinar: Managing Emotional Health at Work
October 9, 12-1pm

Register for this webinar to learn some of the many stressors that may impact an employee’s behavior or work performance, as well as what to look for as a manager and how to handle these concerns supportively for a positive outcome.

October Wellness Walk
October 11, 12-1pm

Join us for a walk through Penn’s beautiful campus and a chance to pump up your heart rate while gaining motivation and energy for your day! The two-mile walk begins at noon in front of College Hall by the Ben Statue. Bring your water bottle, a colleague, and your sneakers!

Penn Family Day
October 12, 10am-7pm

Get ready for family fun, food, and football during the 27th Annual Penn Family Day celebration! Enjoy free games, meals, sports, and cultural activities in a celebration of the Penn community and their families. Activities include skating at Penn’s Ice Rink, a visit to the Penn Museum, a tailgate party, and a live football game at Franklin Field. Register for tickets here.

Flexible Work Options
October 14, 11am-12pm

An overview of Flexible Work Options is provided along with guidelines for proposing and implementing flex requests within HR guidelines and policies. The presentation includes a review of a sample proposal.

New and Expectant Parent Briefing
October 15, 12:30-1:30pm

Learn about Penn’s many resources for supporting new and expectant parents or those new to childcare including nursing support, childcare locators, flexible work options and more. The session will also cover Penn’s time away from work policies including short-term disability (STD), parental leave, and sick leave policies.

Understanding the Opioid Crisis
October 21, 12:30-1:30pm

This presentation will highlight the impacts of the nation's opioid crisis on the Greater Philadelphia Region, including how it may impact us as individuals, families, friends, and co-workers, and what we can do to help someone we care about get the help they need.

Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning
October 29, 12:30-1:30pm

Marcie L.H. Merz, Executive Director of Planned Giving and Associate General Counsel, will explain the importance of estate planning and how to manage your estate during life and after through the use of wills, trusts, and other planning documents.

For more information about resources to support you and your family’s wellness, visit the Wellness & Work-Life webpage.

Models of Excellence from the Nominators' Perspective

Wendy Sparks, Director of Housekeeping in Facilities and Real Estate Services

Wendy Sparks, Director of Housekeeping in Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES), says “thank you” to her staff just for coming to work. It’s a gesture that might surprise some people, but Sparks sees it as a valuable investment in the people that keep Penn going.

“I take the time to thank my staff when I see them because saying thanks and recognizing their efforts is critical to the success of the University,” says Sparks, who leads a team of over 500 housekeepers and nearly 60 managers.

“It shows that I value them and what they do for the University each and every day.”

Given Sparks’ sentiment, it’s no wonder this will be her third year in a row of nominating co-workers for a Pillars of Excellence Award, one of the three honors in the Models of Excellence award program.

Sparks recommended FRES housekeeper Deidre Wood, one of the 2018 Pillars of Excellence honorees. The following year, Sparks wrote a glowing nomination of FRES custodian Lorenzo Jackson, who received the top honor. This year, Sparks has identified a FRES team she feels deserves recognition and is already well into the 2020 nomination process.

“A lot of people go above and beyond every day in their jobs and I want to make sure FRES is involved in showcasing what housekeeping does to support the broader University,” she says. 

For Sparks, the nomination process is a team effort that involves collaborating with the housekeeping leadership team to consider individuals who have done exceptional work. From there, Sparks and her team contact the managers, clients, and building administrators across the schools and centers to get feedback on those who they are considering.

Once the team selects a nominee or nominees, and gathers all of the content needed to complete the nomination, Sparks begins her submission online. Throughout the process, Sparks says she uses the Models Nomination Guide to make sure everything is in order.

“The pre-work and gathering the materials takes a little time… but loading the nomination into the online system is quick and easy; an hour at the most,” she says.

Joshua Gold, Professor of Neuroscience, Perelman School of Medicine, and Chair of the Neuroscience Graduate Group, agrees that the nomination process is straightforward and easy to navigate. He spent a nominal amount of time talking to the executive committee in his department about nominating Neuroscience Graduate Group Coordinator Christine Clay, identifying colleagues to write letters of reference, and actually preparing the nomination online. Clay received a Models of Excellence Award in 2019.

“The process is not overwhelming and the instructions in the Nomination Guide are very clear,” Gold says. “I took to heart the advice on the Models website to be specific and provide evidence of the nominee’s successes in the nomination, and I think that’s what made a big difference.”

Now’s your chance to help bring campus-wide recognition to your colleagues.

The online nomination form and guide are available at This year you can also refer to the Quick Start Guide to Submitting a Nomination to make navigating the nomination process even easier.

If you’re stumped on how to write a stellar nomination, you can attend a “How to Nominate” information session on October 10, from 12pm-1pm. The session will be held at 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South. Register at or

Sparks and Gold even recommend preparing in advance of the call for nominations by making notes throughout the year of coworkers you feel may deserve recognition. Gold says he decided six months before the 2019 call for nominations that he would nominate Clay.

“It’s totally worth it to nominate your coworkers because you get to express your appreciation for people who do an incredible job and make the University work,” says Gold.

Sparks adds, “You just need to be very thoughtful in how you are presenting the nomination, so don’t wait until the last minute. Block your calendar, dedicate the time, do your pre-work, use the Nomination Guide, and it’s simple.”

Nominations for fiscal year 2020 are open now through October 25. For more information about the Models of Excellence staff recognition program, visit the Models of Excellence website or contact Human Resources at

Update Your Beneficiaries in Workday

Asian couple seated, smiling with man holding smiling baby.Have you experienced a life event such as a marriage, divorce, or birth of a child? If so, it’s time for you to update your Penn life insurance and retirement plan beneficiary designations. With the new Workday@Penn portal, the benefits enrollment process has been simplified. Enrollment activities, like updating your insurance beneficiary, are easy and it only takes a few minutes.

By properly designating beneficiaries, you gain the peace of mind knowing your loved ones will receive the money you want them to have. If you don’t, the money you intend to leave could instead go to your estate and be distributed as part of probate proceedings.

Though not needed to update your life insurance beneficiary, qualifying life events may prompt you to do so. These include the birth or adoption of a child, domestic partnership or marriage, divorce or separation, death of a dependent, and a change in your dependent’s eligibility for benefits. The IRS limits the types of changes you can make for such events. For more information about qualifying events, check out Penn’s Guide to Managing Life Events.

If you have not selected a life insurance beneficiary or need to update an existing designation, log in to Workday and follow these steps:

  1. Select the Benefits application on the Workday homepage.
  2. In the Change column, select Benefits.
  3. In the Benefit Event Type field select Beneficiary Change from the drop-down list. (Note: Selecting Benefit Event Type → Beneficiary Change does not require you to change coverage.)
  4. In the Benefit Event Date field enter the date that the benefit event change happened.
  5. On the next page review, add, or remove beneficiaries. You can also update designations for existing beneficiaries. (Note: Once you add a beneficiary, you must designate him/her as a primary or secondary.)

To update your retirement plan beneficiary, log in to Retirement@Work to see your plan summary with direct links to TIAA or Vanguard, Penn’s investment providers. Remember that for your retirement plan accounts you must make beneficiary designations for each of the three plans – Basic, Matching, and Supplemental. Also, designations for your retirement plans and life insurance do not apply to each other.

If you have questions about updating your life insurance beneficiary designations in Workday or need assistance, you can also call the Penn Benefits Solution Center at Health Advocate at 866-799-2239, Monday-Friday, 8 am-10 pm. ET.

For more details about updating beneficiaries for your retirement plans, visit the Designating Your Beneficiaries web page.

Healthy Meals: Fruit Salsa

Fruit salsa with mango, kiwi, and papaya.

This tropical and refreshing fruit salsa is bursting with lots of color and flavor. Papaya, mango, and kiwi pack Vitamins C, E, and B6. Top with mint for the perfect garnish and cooling finish.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know? Time's Running Out for Free Family Day Tickets

Penn’s 27th Annual Penn Family Day celebration is happening Saturday, October 12. Faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars are invited to Shoemaker Green and historic Franklin Field for games, sports, cultural activities, and more. You can order up to four free tickets for the Tailgate Party and the football game. Additional tickets are $8 each. Order tickets at the Penn Athletics website by October 9.



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