myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: October 6, 2021

Caring Is a Strength

strength caregiving grandmother and granddaughter

People in caring roles make a tremendous difference in our world, whether they’re professional care providers and educators, or loving spouses, children, and friends assisting others at home. Care work is at the heart of our communities, but it can take a toll on anyone. Sometimes the most empathetic and responsible caregivers can pay a price for those strengths, especially if their sense of duty leads them to ignore their own needs. This can result in a loss of compassion, or compassion fatigue, and burnout.

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” However, it’s more than feeling other’s pain. It’s the desire to help relieve the suffering. Usually, fulfilling that desire makes us feel good and it can boost our own well-being. But like any other work, active caregiving takes energy. When we don’t recharge and repair our compassion drive, it can shut down. That’s why it’s important for caregivers to step back, turn those helpful powers of observation inward, and check in with themselves regularly.

This basic list of Self Care Questions from Health Advocate is a good place to start.

  • Know your compassion fatigue warning signs and your own personal 1 to 10 scale of impact. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is a 4 for you and what is a 9?

    Some common warning signs are:

    • Regularly waking up tired in the morning and struggling to get going
    • Feeling as if you are working harder but accomplishing less
    • Becoming frustrated/irritated easily, or overly judgmental
    • Aches and pains
    • Avoiding social connections
    • Losing compassion for some people while becoming overly involved with others
  • What things do I have control over?
  • What things do I not have control over?
  • What stress relief strategies do I enjoy?
  • What stress reduction strategies work for me?
  • What stress resiliency strategies can I use?


Unlike compassion fatigue--which is marked by feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and negativity--compassion satisfaction adds to caregivers’ strength, sense of value, confidence, meaning, and respect for others. To build compassion satisfaction and refresh your strength, Health Advocate recommends these mental exercises:

  • List one mini-escape or diversion that worked well to restore and renew you
  • List one thing that brings you joy
  • Name three things you feel grateful for today
  • Think of something that has brought you a sense of joy
  • Reach out to someone you love
  • What made you laugh today?

You can record your responses in a journal or simply keep them in mind when you need a lift.


You can learn new ways to restore your strength or take a fresh look at practices you’ve used in the past at these upcoming Work and Family Month workshops and related personal development programs:

Virgin Pulse Wellness Platform “Whil” Programs
Log in to Virgin Pulse with your PennKey, then go to the “Programs” tab in the top navigation bar and search “Build Emotional Intelligence” or “Reduce Stress & Anxiety.”

Depression Anxiety and Burnout: Moving Toward Hope and Health
October 7, 10:15 a.m. -11:15 a.m. and 4:15-5:15 p.m.
October 14, 10:15-11:15 a.m. and 4:15-5:15 p.m.

Mindfully Moving Through Change - 4 Week Mindfulness-Based Program
October 14, 21 and 28, and November 4, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Virtual Workshop: Balancing Work Life and Family
October 19, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Mindfulness and Social Justice
October 21, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Assertiveness Skills
October 27 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Caregiving and the Holidays-What to do when a Visit to Parents Raises Red Flags
November 2, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Reach Out

Even the toughest caregiver doesn’t need to do everything for themselves. If you don’t expect everyone to go it alone, don’t you have every right to reach out to friends, support groups, religious and spiritual communities? Sometimes, finding the right resources can be a challenge. Fortunately, Penn faculty and staff have access to networks of support groups and counseling services.

Visit the Caring for Your Family page for links to these benefits and resources, such as:

Penn’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Call 866-799-2329

Penn Cobalt

Caregiver Connections

A New Look at Penn’s Buildings and Landscape Features 

College House WestFaculty and staff who returned to on campus work in September may have noticed a few changes in the otherwise familiar West Philadelphia landscape. Over the last two years, the University continued to develop its landscapes and architecture. Some of these newly opened features are hard to miss, while others are tucked away. Whether they’re right next door or off the beaten path, it’s helpful to be familiar with recent additions to the Penn campus. Take advantage of these gorgeous fall days and rediscover our unique urban park.

New Spaces Match Quiz

See if you can match the names and locations of these University facilities that opened in 2021. The answers are at the end of the article.

1.  40th and Locust Streets

A. Biotech Commons


2. 37th and Spruce Streets

Academic Research Building[

B. New High Bay Laboratory

3. 40th and Sansom Streets

Tangen Hall
photo: University Communications

C. University Meeting and Guesthouse


4. 38th and Walnut Streets
meeting and guesthouse

D. Tangen Hall

5. 250 S. 31st Street

High Bay
photo: University Communications

E. New College House (West)

6. 3610 Hamilton Walk

Biotech Commons

F. Academic Research Building


Check out the New Maps

Fortunately, if you missed a few answers on the new spaces quiz, you can always refer to Penn’s new and improved outdoor maps. These updated maps, located throughout campus, are perfect for those moments when visiting scholars, parents, or families of Penn Medicine patients wave to you and say, “Excuse me, but how do I get to…”

What’s New in Penn’s Large Parks

Penn’s familiar green spaces are worth a fresh look this fall since new features have been added. You may discover a new favorite destination for outdoor dining, collaboration with your coworkers, or a dose of NatureRx at Penn.

Penn Park Farm and Orchard
Just south of Penn Park’s athletic fields, you’ll find a small farm and food forest, which is part of Penn Food and Wellness Collaborative. Faculty and staff are invited to volunteer and enjoy nutritious local fruits and vegetables.

Shoemaker Green
The lawn and gardens in front of the Palestra feature the sculpture, Atmosphere and Environment XII, by Louise Nevelson, installed in July 2019.

Blanche P. Levy Park
This campus hub, adjacent to College Green, first opened in 1977. Today, Brickhouse by Simone Leigh, now stands by its entrance. The celebrated sculpture was installed in November 2020.

James G. Kaskey Park
Every season brings some renewal to Kaskey Park, also known as the Biopond. This garden, located behind the Richards and Goddard Labs off of Hamilton Walk, offers plenty of outdoor tables and seating for mindful moments.

Weitzman Plaza
This open space near 34th and Walnut Streets has been redesigned to enhance the East-West connection on campus. The Plaza features a stairway down to 34th Street that functions as a casual seating area.

Hidden Gem Outdoor Spaces for Breaks
In search of an alternative to popular outdoor seating along Locust Walk or on 35th and Walnut Streets? These nooks are perfect for small, informal outdoor meetings and/or solo fresh-air lunch breaks. Be sure and pick up some grab-and-go food at one of our Shop Penn dining locations or at the University Square Farmers Market, open Wednesdays in front of the Penn Bookstore.

Geology Garden near Hayden Hall, off Smith Walk

Lauder College House lifted lawn, near 33rd Street, Chestnut Street and Woodland Walk

Lenape Garden at Penn’s Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC) at 37th and Chestnut. Visit the front desk for access.

James G. Kaskey Park (Biopond)

Shakespeare Garden, adjacent to the Duhring Wing of the Fisher Fine Arts Building

Penn’s spaces, historic and contemporary, continue to attract talented people to our University while offering plenty of room and fresh air for all. Be sure to take full advantage of working in and around this beautiful campus.

New Space Match Quiz Answers:
1-E. New College House (West), 2-F. Academic Research Building, 3-D. Tangen Hall, 4-C. University Meeting and Guesthouse, 5-B. New High Bay Laboratory, 6-A. Biotech Commons.

Fire Up the Flavor with a Virtual Cooking Demo

Man Heating Pan

October is Work and Family month, a time to focus on your work-life balance. Healthy eating is a major part of achieving that balance. Preparing nutritious meals doesn’t have to be a complicated process with dishes that end up falling flat in flavor. Discover how to create two quick and tasty recipes that the whole family will enjoy by attending the virtual Cooking Demonstration with Corporate Wellness Nutrition (CWN), one of Penn’s wellness partners, on October 13, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Christine Steerman, a registered dietitian from CWN, will prepare Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese and Nutrient Packed Popsicles. Each recipe can be made in less than 35 minutes and you can prepare them right along with the live presentation in your own kitchen. No need to worry about having Emeril cookware and fancy herbs and spices to keep up with this demo. These recipes only require the listed ingredients and a few basic kitchen items. All participants will receive copies of the recipes via email after the demo.

Steerman says CWN chose to feature these treats “to highlight how to make some kid favorites healthier and more in line with our dietary guidelines. They also highlight a number of budget-friendly and convenient foods for the whole family to enjoy.”

In addition to the cooking demo, CWN also provides these six cooking tips to help you and your loved ones eat well:

  1. Plan your food groups according to MyPlate guidelines. Use the plate model to give you a visual guide to get a healthy combination of food groups in each meal. Try to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, one-quarter whole grain, and one-quarter lean or plant-based proteins. Keep the whole family involved in the planning process as much as possible. Ask children, “how do we fill this part of the plate” or “what do you think we should buy or have on hand to make for the week?” Do the planning before you make your grocery list so you will have all the ingredients you need. Visit the MyPlate website for details and interactive tools to help you make meals that are 15 minutes or less.
  2. Don’t be afraid of frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen vegetables are an easy, time-saving way to ensure you get your serving of colorful plant-based foods without sacrificing nutrient value. For convenience and to cut out prep time, select frozen produce that can be microwaved. The Nutrient Packed Popsicles recipe will highlight this concept by featuring naturally sweet frozen fruits.
  3. Incorporate beans and legumes at least once per week. Canned beans often get a bad reputation because of their sodium content. However, they are one of the easiest ways to get in plant-based protein that is also full of fiber, and they are budget-friendly. Just be sure to buy the low-sodium or no salt added canned beans and rinse well before adding to your dish.
  4. Explore aromatics for variety. Change up the flavor instead of the food by experimenting with different aromatics to help bring variety to your dishes. Aromatics are vegetables that deliver deep, rounded flavor and aroma when heated or crushed. These can include garlic, onions, chilies, and ginger. Each vegetable contains different health benefits and cooking qualities that make it unique. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for more information.
  5. Get to know your spice rack. Go beyond the salt and pepper and explore your spice rack to incorporate different seasonings into your meals. It’s a great way to elevate the flavor of your dishes. Get the whole family involved in making different spice blends. For some ideas on how to get started with spices, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
  6. Make and freeze soups and chilis. This can be a quick and easy go-to meal each week, especially when you’re on the run to children’s sporting events or other activities.

Samantha Bluj, CWN Client Success Manager, says when you’re planning healthy meals remember that healthy eating does not have to look the same for everyone or be a strict way of eating.

“Maintaining healthy eating habits start with the mindset of choosing small, realistic, gradual action steps that can be built upon and added up to a bigger change over time. So, have patience and fun along the way with new ingredients, recipes, and learning about different foods,” she says. 

To learn more about healthy eating habits, sign up for one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling at Penn’s Corporate Wellness Nutrition’s Sign Up page. A team member will reach out in 1-2 business days to book your appointment. All Penn employees, spouses, and dependents are welcome to sign up for their first visit to determine insurance coverage. In the event you are not covered, your first visit will be complimentary. Penn’s health plans offer six free nutrition counseling sessions per year (only virtual at this time), with many non-Penn plans also offering similar coverage.

Additionally, 2021-2022 Be in the Know participants can earn points towards Virgin Pulse rewards for completing up to six nutrition counseling sessions per campaign year.

Register for Cooking Demonstration with Corporate Wellness Nutrition (CWN) online.

For more Work and Family Month activities, visit

Develop Confidence to Handle Everyday Situations


Are you assertive no matter what the circumstance? Think back to a time when a colleague asked you to work on a project that would have substantially increased your workload, and you wanted to say “no,” but didn’t. Maybe you agreed to help a friend with a weekend event before getting all the details and this little favor turned into a big effort, delaying more important tasks on your own to-do list. By using assertive behaviors in every situation, you can clearly and respectfully express your views and goals without violating the needs of others in the process. Learn how to create better, more effective interpersonal relationships at work, at home, or in your community at the Assertiveness Skills virtual workshop on October 27 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Jamie Apgar, Training and Development Consultant, Talent Development, says one of the assertive behaviors that is most challenging for people to demonstrate is saying “no” when asked to do something. 

“This is especially true in a work environment where you may want to be seen as a team player, be a supportive colleague, and value team priorities even when you already have plenty of work and priorities of your own,” she says.

Apgar adds that people may also resist saying no to avoid hurting the person’s feelings or to prevent damaging a relationship.

“It’s very natural for us to want to be liked. We may be nervous that if we say ‘no’ to a friend, colleague, or boss that it could jeopardize their perception of us. However, explaining why you can’t help can sometimes dispel any imagined fears we have about saying ‘no,’” she says.

In this workshop, Apgar will highlight three ways to use assertive behaviors in everyday situations: 

  1. Practice effective ways of saying “No”- Saying “No” can be difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you must, be polite, firm, clear, and direct. Don’t say “maybe” when you actually mean “no,” and don’t give a reason if you don’t want to. Use assertive body language such as direct eye contact, a confident posture, and - when appropriate - a genuine smile. Also, eliminate hinting because being indirect is the enemy of assertiveness.
  2. Offer an alternative to saying “No” – You may need to ease into the process of saying “no.” You can do this by offering an alternative response, such as:
    • “I’d like to help you with that project, unfortunately, that deadline won’t work with my schedule. Is the deadline flexible?”
    • “I’d love to participate; however, I’m not comfortable with the role you are proposing for me. Is there a different way I can help?”
    • “Could we discuss other ways I might contribute?”

    By using this approach, Apgar says, “you are still being clear and direct that you cannot help, given the current circumstances, but if those circumstances change, then you may be open to helping. Just be mindful that if those circumstances are met, it’s important that you follow through. If those circumstances aren’t changed to meet your needs and boundaries, continue to be firm in your stance.”

  3. Say “Yes,” but set your boundaries – Agree with conditions. Say something like: “I can get it done by (date)….” or “I can only offer you one hour.” Also, make sure you get complete information before committing yourself. That means finding out what exactly needs to be done, the deadline, and how long it will take.

Assertiveness Skills will also show participants how to recognize the assertiveness matrix (from passive to assertive to aggressive), identify personal blocks to assertiveness, and demonstrate assertive language and behaviors. Apar says the workshop is important to improving work relationships.

“I think it’s a healthy practice for staff members to feel comfortable expressing their needs, wants, viewpoints, and knowing that just because you have an opinion and are expressing an opinion doesn’t mean that you’re being aggressive,” she says.

“As long as you’re still keeping in mind the thoughts, values, and needs of others; we can set our teams up to have more clear, honest, and productive conversations with stakeholders, colleagues, and leadership.”

Register for the Assertiveness Skills workshop to develop confidence for everyday situations and create win-win solutions for you and your coworkers.

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

Securing a Financial Legacy 

Grandfather and grandson

Are your retirement plan’s beneficiary designations up to date? Please take a moment today to review the designations for your financial accounts at TIAA.  This is an important step to protecting your legacy. As you may recall, during the retirement plan’s transition to TIAA in April, beneficiary designations for mutual fund contracts couldn’t be transferred to the new contracts at TIAA.

When retirement plan contracts don’t have a beneficiary designation on file with TIAA at the time of the participant’s death, the assets are distributed according to legal defaults.  For participants who were married at the time of death, the assets default to the surviving spouse.  For participants who were single at time of death, the assets default to the participant’s estate and are then distributed by the courts through a process called probate.  Probate can be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful for the decedent’s surviving family. 

A member of the Penn retirement plan team at TIAA shares a personal experience with probate:

“Probate costs both time and money, and larger estates may cost more to settle, both in court fees and if an attorney is required.

“However, the worst part of probate will be the stress. Not having a proper will, named executor, and beneficiary on accounts like these makes someone’s death so much harder to deal with at the same time one is grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Letting your retirement plan default isn’t the same as naming a beneficiary.  If you haven’t designated your beneficiaries for the Basic, Matching, and Supplemental Plans, please consider doing so today and give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve. 

For more details and to access your retirement plan account at TIAA, visit the Designating Your Beneficiaries website. You can also call the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-736-6738.

Also, make sure you register for one of TIAA’s October webinars to learn about Health Savings Accounts, income options in retirement, transitioning from career to retirement, and more.

Healthy Meals: 15-Minute Butternut Squash and Bean Sauté  

Butternut Squash and Bean Saute

Fall temperatures are here, and that means it’s time to add some hearty dishes to the menu. This flavorful sauté will warm you up – and it’s quick and easy to make. You can make it with white beans or garbanzo beans. The dish is perfect for a weeknight dinner or serve as a part of your Sunday brunch with friends.

Recipe inspired by Grab A Plate website; December 2017 and provided by Corporate Wellness Nutrition, Penn’s Nutrition Counseling Partner.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.



2 Tbsp olive oil

1 bag frozen butternut squash (enough for 2 cups), microwaved per package

¼ cup medium yellow or white onion- diced 

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup low sodium or no-salt added diced tomatoes with juice

1.5 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt added white beans or garbanzo beans- drained and rinsed

1-1/2 cups, baby spinach, packed


½ tsp salt

¼ tsp of ground black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp dried thyme

Optional Toppings: Parmesan or feta cheese for garnish.


  1. Add the oil to a skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Add onion and cook for about 4 minutes, or until they soften.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Mix while cooking so it does not burn.
  4. Add the microwaved squash, tomato, and juice,and premeasure vegetable broth and add to skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash softens and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add beans and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted
  6. Add optional garnishes of choice and enjoy!

Meet With a Registered Dietitian Today!

  • One-on-One, virtual nutrition counseling
  • 100% covered under many insurance plans and available to spouses and dependents
  • Simple Sign Up Process – Visit Penn’s Corporate Wellness Nutrition’s Sign Up page, provide your information and a customer service team member will reach out in 1-2 business days to book your appointment.

Did You Know: Penn’s Flu Shot Clinic Ends Friday

Penn’s annual Flu Vaccine Clinic, offered by Wellness at Penn, ends on Friday, October 8. Staff, faculty, and post-docs can visit the free, walk-in clinic in Gimbel Gym at  Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, 3701 Walnut Street. You do not need to register, but you must wear a mask, bring your PennCard, and show a Green PennOpen pass on the day of your visit. For clinic hours visit the Student Health Service website.



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