myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: February 12, 2020

Prepare for a Mindful Journey

Path of round stepping stones floating above water in peaceful, green, forest-like environment

One of Penn’s most popular work-life and wellness courses returns to campus this spring. Mindfulness in the Workplace, presented by the Penn Program for Mindfulness, runs May 5 through June 24. The course blends ancient mindfulness techniques with the latest cognitive research to manage stress, lift your mood, increase mental clarity, and improve well-being.

Mindfulness in the Workplace includes weekly two-hour classes and a full-day retreat on Sunday, June 14. The University offers this mind-body health experience at no cost to benefits-eligible faculty and staff.

If you’re considering this in-depth program, register for Introduction to Mindfulness. This one-hour introductory presentation orients you to the complete Mindfulness in the Workplace journey. Attendance is recommended before you register for the eight-week course.

The next Introduction to Mindfulness sessions will be held in March and April at Penn Learning and Education, 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South. Register online for the session that best fits your schedule:

March 30, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
April 16, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Mara Wai, M.Ed., Associate Director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness, facilitates the introductory session as well as the eight-week course. Wai will facilitate a guided mindfulness practice and discuss how it can be used as a powerful stress management tool.

Dozens of faculty and staff members have completed Mindfulness in the Workplace. The response from past participants has been glowing. These are just a few samples of their positive comments:

"I feel so much calmer overall. I have employed several of the techniques to reduce stress at work."

"It taught me to be present even when things aren't great. Instead of blowing up, I will stop, breathe and wait."

"This program was tremendously valuable and will enable me to be more effective both in my job and personal life."

Participants who finish the Mindfulness in the Workplace course will receive a certificate of completion and 60 Bonus Action points for the Be In The Know wellness campaign.

For more mindfulness and stress management information, visit the Wellness & Work-life pages.

Take Charge of Your Heart Health

Stethoscope curled around glossy red heart-shaped toy.

February is American Heart Month and Penn is providing staff and faculty with wellness opportunities to raise awareness about preventing heart disease and to offer guidance for healthier eating.

Preventative screenings are a good first step to healthier living. No-cost heart health preventative screenings are available at local MinuteClinic locations inside CVS pharmacies on February 13 and 20.

The screenings will provide you with the five key personal health numbers that can help determine your risk for heart disease: total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index.

"We know that nearly 80% of cardiac events can be prevented... MinuteClinic provides an easy and convenient way to get this important health data, during February and all year long,” says Angela Patterson, CVS MinuteClinic chief nurse practitioner officer, and CVS Health vice president.

To receive a free screening, visit to download and print a voucher then bring to a MinuteClinic registration kiosk. You can also use your mobile device to show the voucher to the provider after you register. To find a MinuteClinic near you click here.

After your screening, learn how your heart health is impacted by what you eat by attending Penn’s Eating for Heart Health workshop. The free workshop will be held on February 24 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in Houston Hall, Ben Franklin Room.

At Eating for Heart Health, Family Food Registered Dietician Christine Steerman, MA, RD, LDN, will talk with participants about recommended foods that protect the heart and those foods that can be enjoyed in moderation.

Register today for Eating for Heart Health and learn about the foods to fuel your heart. 

For more information about wellness activities, visit the Wellness & Work-life website.

Turn Difficult Dialogue into Effective Conversations

Two men shaking hands in agreement and understanding

It’s never easy to have hard conversations with colleagues. This type of exchange can create stress, anxiety and tension in the workplace, and distract you from important matters and priorities.

While you can’t always avoid these conversations, you can learn how to handle them more effectively while maintaining a productive work environment. Penn’s Navigating Difficult Conversations workshop will show you how to manage these discussions and deliver challenging messages with poise and empathy.

Navigating Difficult Conversations will be held March 5, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A-South. Elena McClelland, Manager of Programs for the Learning and Education Department, will facilitate the workshop. McClelland says part of what makes conversations difficult is our fear of hurting people’s feelings, making them angry, disappointing them, not being liked, or losing respect.

“I would recommend this class to anyone who is experiencing those fears because you can overcome them by learning best practices for preparing, initiating, and delivering the difficult conversation,” McClelland says.

In this workshop participants will learn how to talk face-to-face with coworkers during unpleasant situations. Through exercises and discussions, you will explore and learn the seven stages of navigating a difficult conversation.

  1. Prepare for the conversation
  2. Initiate the conversation
  3. Deliver the message
  4. Listen and respond
  5. Explore alternatives and solutions, if appropriate
  6. Close the conversation
  7. Follow up, if appropriate

Additionally, the session will help you--and the people you speak with--listen with empathy and understanding, stay focused on the facts of the situation, and discover constructive solutions.

By developing the ability to handle challenging conversations, you will increase your confidence and productivity, improve relationships, and put yourself on a path to better career opportunities.

Register today for Navigating Difficult Conversations. There is a $75 charge for this workshop. Once registered, please send your department’s 26-digit budget code to to complete your registration.

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

Penn Updates Protecting Minors on Campus Policy

African-American woman smiling while assisting little African-American girl in a computer lab or other classroom environment

Penn offers hundreds of programs, services, camps, and other activities that enrich and educate children year-round. That’s why in February 2019, the University of Pennsylvania improved its background check process for programs that involve minors by launching the Protecting Minors on Campus Policy. Due to recent amendments in Commonwealth legislation regarding contact with children, Penn has updated this policy.

All University faculty, staff, postdoctoral trainees, students, and volunteers having direct contact with children in connection with University activities are now required to complete all three parts of the background check process prior to employment. The three-part background check process includes: 

  • Pennsylvania State Police Search (known as PATCH)
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance
  • FBI Criminal History Record

This change went into effect January 1, 2020. In previous years Pennsylvania allowed individuals to be employed on a provisional basis provided they had completed the two state-required clearances (PATCH and PA Child Abuse), and offered receipt of their FBI Criminal History Background Check. As a result of ACT 47 of 2019, this provisional period is no longer permitted. 

This policy update eliminates the ability for the University to hire employees on a provisional basis when working with children. This also ensures that those who have contact with children meet state and federal requirements, and enhances the safety of environments where children are served.

For more information, review the updated Protecting Minors on Campus Policy. If you have questions about the policy, please call the Penn Employee Solution Center at 215-898-7372, or email

Healthy Meals: Seared Mahi-mahi with Tomato-Cucumber Relish

Seared Mahimahi with tomato-cucumber relish on top of cooked mixed quinoa.

If you’re searching for protein, flavor, and vitamins this season look no further than this delicious Seared Mahi-mahi. Loaded with lean protein, omega-3s, and vitamin B, this fish is great for your taste buds and your well-being. Homemade tomato-cucumber relish adds the perfect zesty finish. Serve with mixed quinoa or fresh salad.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know? Penn's Safe Drug Disposal Place

You can safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins at the Penn Division of Public Safety (DPS) Prescription Drug Drop Box at 4040 Chestnut Street. It’s a simple way to keep unused opioids and other medicine cabinet items out of the wrong hands, our soil, and water. The Drop Box accepts pills, patches, and ointments for people and pets 24/7. Check the DPS website for details.



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