myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: October 30, 2019

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

Male caregiver of elderly woman in wheelchair assists her into the car

Providing care for an aging family member or someone who is chronically ill or disabled can be a full-time job. You may have to make sure medications are taken on time, provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, prepare meals, and keep the household running smoothly. That’s why Penn is here to help you navigate this time in a loved one’s life by providing resources to ease the anxiety, help you manage all the tasks, and identify the best care for those closest to you.

According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 65 million people in the U.S. serve as caregivers and spend an average of 20 hours per week looking after a loved one or friend. The value of services family caregivers provide for free when caring for older adults is estimated to be $375 billion a year. Caregiving is real work, and finding quality assistance can be expensive.

Here are some no-cost Penn resources you can use during National Family Caregivers Month to help you find the support you need.

  • Webinar: Maximizing Quality of Life as You Age, November 5, 1pm-2pm- Whether retirement seems far away or just around the corner, it’s important to maximize quality of life as we age. In order to do that, it’s helpful to consider how best to enhance well-being, independence and social connection. This seminar will cover topics such as livable communities, in-home supports, technology resources and the cost of long-term care. Click here to register.
  • Important Resources for Family Caregivers workshop, November 12, 12:30pm-1:30pm, 3624 Market St., Suite 1A South – As family caregivers, we are often confronted with a confusing array of choices. How can you sort out the various senior living arrangements, in-home services and care options so you can determine what’s best for your loved one? How do you find the right support for yourself so you can handle your caregiving responsibilities along with everything else? In this workshop you will learn about the long-term care landscape, including resources and costs so that you can be an informed and proactive caregiver. Click here to register.
  • Senior Care Planning services – Through Penn’s partnership with, benefits-eligible faculty and staff can access senior care advisors who can provide you and your family with caregiving strategies such as finding the appropriate level of care, proactively planning and paying for care, and assisting adult children whose parents do not want to accept care.

You can also contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), powered by Health Advocate for assistance. Benefits-eligible Penn faculty and staff – as well as their spouses, dependents, parents, and parents-in-law - can use this service at no cost to you. The EAP provides your family with experts who can provide a number of services, including identifying eldercare, in-home care, assisted living, and long-term care. Call 866-799-2329, Monday-Friday, 8am-10pm to speak with a representative. For emergencies, support is available 24/7.

For more important caregiving tips, visit the Caregiver Action Network website. You can also visit the Caring for Your Family webpage for details about Penn’s dependent care benefits.

Take Advantage of Free Flu Shots on Campus

"Get Your Flu Shot" on-campus graphic

It’s that time of year - the chills, coughing and aches. Flu season is here and Penn faculty and staff can get ready with a free influenza vaccine at one of these convenient on-campus clinics.

November Flu Vaccine Clinics Sponsored by Human Resources
Pre-registration is required for Human Resources clinics. Please bring your PennCard to the clinic.

Tuesday, November 12
9:00am – 2:00pm (limited availability). Register online to reserve your time slot.
Houston Hall, Bodek Lounge

Monday, November 18
9:00am – 2:00pm. Register online to reserve your time slot.
Houston Hall, Hall of Flags

Friday, November 22
9:00am – 2:00pm. Register online to reserve your time slot.
Off-Campus at New Bolton Center, Alumni Hall

Benefits-eligible faculty and staff will earn Bonus Action points for the 2019-2020 Be in the Know campaign when they receive a flu vaccine. For more information, visit the Be in the Know Bonus Actions webpage.

Tips for Staying Healthy

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination is “the single best way to prevent seasonal flu.” There are still more steps you can take to protect yourself and others. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Wash your hands often. Cleaning your hands protects you from germs. Hand-sanitizers are great for on-the-go sanitation.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Coughing and sneezing easily spread the flu.
  • Practice healthy habits in your surroundings by cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects at home and in the office, especially when someone is sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work, school, and other activities so you can rest and get well faster.
  • Proactively take care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, eating nutritious foods, drinking fluids, and managing stress.

For more tools and tips to defend yourself this flu season, visit the CDC’s Flu Prevention webpage.

Have Difficult Conversations with Compassionate Care

Worker thoughtfully listening to feedback from boss

When it comes to navigating difficult conversations with your colleagues, some people would rather head for cover than go face-to-face. You may worry about hurting the other person’s feelings, so you dance around a touchy subject secretly hoping that the issue will resolve itself.

You can approach serious subjects in a way that is respectful and engaging. Learn how to create this type of dialogue by attending the How to Train Employees to Have Difficult Conversations workshop on November 19, from 12:30pm-1:30pm, 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South. 

“I think people are increasingly conflict averse so when giving difficult feedback, or engaging in difficult conversations, people are generally hesitant,” says Amma Napier, Senior Consultant for Training and Development, Learning and Education. Napier will facilitate the workshop.

Thorough, in-person training is necessary for staff to be prepared to have difficult exchanges, especially if the discussion involves race, gender, ethnicity, or other sensitive topics.

During the free workshop, participants will view a TED Talk led by workplace culture coach Tamekia MizlLadi Smith, in which she shares a workplace training program called “I’m G.R.A.C.E.D.” The purpose of the program is to teach employees how to properly ask questions, understand why certain requests are made, and know how to respond with what Smith calls “compassionate care.”

“I hope people can walk away from the workshop with an understanding that it’s not just about the other person’s behavior, but also your own impact because yours is the only behavior you can change,” Napier says.

Register here for the How to Train Employees to Have Difficult Conversations workshop.

For more professional development opportunities, visit the Learn & Grow section of the Human Resources website.

The Bigger Picture for Tori Smalls

Tori Smalls, Associate Director of Human Resources for Development and Alumni Relations

In 2017, Tori Smalls decided to trade her five-minute suburban commute to one of the region’s largest school districts for a job in West Philadelphia within a budding call center. What prompted her to make this change? The opportunity to work for the University of Pennsylvania.

Smalls had a good eye for potential career growth and saw plenty of it at Penn. After a year and a half as a Specialist in the Penn Employee Solution Center, she was ready to transfer into another position within the University. Today, she’s the Associate Director of Human Resources for Development and Alumni Relations (DAR).

“I know who I am, I know what I want, and I know what my goals are,” says Smalls. That focus, plus her ability to see possibilities within a bigger picture, helped her to establish a career at Penn.

Before joining the University staff, Smalls had worked in HR for an educational non-profit and a large hotel in Philadelphia. When she applied for her first position at Penn, she was a Human Resources Coordinator with Cherry Hill Public Schools in New Jersey. She’d held that post for 13 years.

“Both personally and professionally, my life changed drastically over that time,” says Smalls. She earned a master’s degree while raising her children, now ages 10 and 12. Smalls describes the Cherry Hill Board of Education as a supportive employer. Although education was the right field for her, she says the school district no longer gave her room for further career progression. After 16 years as a human resource professional with a BS from Temple University and an MBA from Upper Iowa University, Smalls was ready to move on.

“I was very specific in where I wanted to go. So, I only ever applied for positions at Penn,” she says.

Smalls had submitted applications for a few Penn staff jobs before the Solution Center Specialists positions opened. The center was part of a new initiative. The specialist role would take Smalls away from the face-to-face Human Resources generalist work she enjoys most. Yet, she saw how the Penn Employee Solution Center fit into her overall career plans. Accepting the offer at the Solution Center was a relatively straight forward decision for her.

“That’s because I said I'm going to take the chance and look at the bigger picture than just the position itself,” says Smalls. “The benefits and the fact that this means my career is here at Penn.”

“She came prepared to do something completely new,” says Claudia Quinton, Manager, Penn Employee Solution Center and Onboard@Penn, Division of Human Resources. Quinton was Smalls’ supervisor in the Penn Employee Solution Center, which launched operations in January 2018.

Smalls’ first job at Penn was a fast track to develop and apply knowledge of nearly every aspect of Human Resources across the University. As a Solution Center specialist, Smalls trained on the Penn’s legacy systems to better support staff and faculty during the transition to Workday@Penn. She and her team members shadowed HR teams and other staff in related roles in different schools and centers.

“That was super helpful to see what their day-to-day looks like and what kinds of questions we were going to get. I feel like working in the Solution Center gave me that Penn institutional knowledge.”

While Smalls successfully used that knowledge to serve Penn employees and job applicants who contacted the Solution Center with questions, it was no secret that she was preparing to apply her learning beyond that space.

“Very early on when I met with Claudia, we always had the understanding that I want to help grow this position and this solution center. But my ultimate goal is to grow a career here,” says Smalls. “I always had that transparency and communication with Claudia.”

Claudia Quinton says, “Tori’s directness impressed me. If she had concerns or ideas, she expressed them without hesitation and with respect for the other people in the room.”

According to Smalls, Claudia’s support and the Solution Center environment empowered her to continue her career development. She felt free to work on special projects such as identifying trends at the call center and to take on more responsibilities while watching for new positions to apply for in the future.

“You can be engaged and know for sure that you want to move on,” says Smalls. Trusting her manager and receiving encouragement fueled her motivation. “I think that if you feel valued. that’s how you remain engaged until it's time to move on to the next thing.”

Small says she could have never imagined that just one year and eight months after she joined the Solution Center team, she would transfer into her current position in DAR. She’s been with DAR since August, 2019, reporting to Gretchen Ekeland, Director, Human Resources, Development and Alumni Relations as part of the team responsible for recruiting and retailing Penn’s vital fundraising and development professionals.

For Ekeland, Smalls’ experience with the Solution Center made her a top choice for the position. “Since Workday had just gone live it was an exceptional opportunity for us to bring in someone with prior HR Generalist experience and this critical Workday element.”

Smalls says, “I can absolutely say I was able to hit the ground running from day one in DAR without any lag because of the experience I had in the Solution Center.”

Recently, Solution Center staff sat in with her to observe day-to-day human resources activities in DAR, where she manages a team of two. It was Smalls turn to be shadowed. “I knew exactly what they were looking for.” Smalls says, “You know, it's like you're basically paying it forward.”

“That's what leaders do. They grow and develop their people. So, if you have a person who wants to develop themselves. It only benefits you.”

That kind of involvement helped Smalls establish herself at the University of Pennsylvania. Whether she’s participating in campus events like Penn Family Day, sharing one of her expertly decorated homemade cakes, or simply taking in the views on Locust Walk, she actively strengthens ties with her coworkers and the campus.

“It's a big place,” she says, “but I still feel like it's a community.”

Increasing Access to Professional Development Resources

African-American woman diligently studying resource materials on laptop

Penn offers a variety of professional development resources to enhance your skills and grow your career. Now, one of those resources has expanded. Penn’s online training library has merged into LinkedIn Learning, a website that offers video courses in software, creative, and business skills. 

LinkedIn Learning combines 100% of’s courses with LinkedIn data to give you personalized learning opportunities that are easy to use. Penn faculty and staff will be able to access more courses than ever before and stay current with LinkedIn’s constantly evolving learning network.

Personalized LinkedIn Learning access instructions were sent via email from October 25-29 to all account holders. If you haven’t received any LinkedIn Learning emails, make sure to check your spam folder. You can also access LinkedIn Learning at with your PennKey and password.

You have the option to link LinkedIn Learning to your personal LinkedIn account. If you decide to do so, please keep these considerations in mind:  

  • You’ll have the choice to share completed courses and showcase newly gained knowledge on your personal LinkedIn page. You’ll also be able to access comments, questions, and answers that other LinkedIn users post within specific courses while you’re taking the course.
  • In addition to logging in with your PennKey, you’ll need to log in with your personal LinkedIn account each time you access a LinkedIn Learning course.
  • The University of Pennsylvania will not have access to any of your personal information, and nothing will be posted to your personal LinkedIn account without your permission. For more details, please see LinkedIn Learning’s Privacy Information.
  • If you decide not to link your personal LinkedIn account at this time, you can always go back and add it later. If you do link your account, you can unlink it at any time. 

For more professional development opportunities, visit the Learn & Grow section of the Human Resources website

Healthy Meals: Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

This Mexican-inspired tortilla soup can be cooked to accommodate any busy schedule. Tender chicken thighs, vegetables, and spices are slow cooked together for a healthy, delicious meal that works for your lifestyle. Finish with crumbled tortilla chips and the juice of half a lemon.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips

Did You Know? PennRides on Request App Makes Transportation Easier

PennRides on Request, the free mobile rideshare app, makes it easier to use Penn’s transit shuttle services. You can request a ride immediately or schedule one in advance, receive estimated arrival times, get real-time information about the fixed-route vehicle schedules, on-demand shuttle services, and more. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play, and use your PennKey and password to log in. Click here for more information.



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