Princeton cultivates community and relationships for staff in new ways
A new interactive storytelling project called princeton together is the latest example of how the University is cultivating a community for staff that values inclusion and belonging.
In recent years, the Human Resources Office (HR) launched new health and wellness programs, benefits, professional development courses, discussion groups and community events to welcome new hires and connect all employees. Many of these initiatives are aimed at supporting Princeton employees in their roles at the University and as people, as well as fostering connections between office and departmental staff.
“We believe employees thrive when they feel valued and have a sense of belonging,” said vice president of human resources Romy Riddick. “That’s why HR, in partnership with colleagues on campus, is committed to putting in place policies, services and programs that take into account the full spectrum of employee needs and interests so that people feel empowered and supported to do their best.”
What was your favorite childhood toy? Where did you grow up and what was it like? What keeps you up at night? What drives you out of your comfort zone and why? Here are some of the questions that staff addressed while participating in princeton togetheran HR initiative launched in collaboration with Adam Mastoon, storyteller, author and educator.
“Princeton Together is an opportunity to strengthen the feelings of friendship, community and common purpose that bind us together,” said Kimberly Tiedeken, HR Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “It’s a fun and meaningful way to engage with others on campus, broaden our perspectives, and create a greater sense of inclusion and belonging in our workplace.”
During a pilot phase last year, 70 staff members were matched and got to know each other through brief Zoom conversations or in person. The partners asked each other guided questions aimed at encouraging dialogue and sharing.
“At its core, Princeton Together demonstrates the power of understanding the experiences and needs of others. When two people sit down at 1 p.m. as strangers and at 2 p.m. have shared many aspects of their lives, it builds trust, connection and a sense of belonging that strengthens our community,” said Tiedeken.
“Princeton Together definitely allowed me to connect with someone I never would have had the chance to meet,” said Paryn Wallace, undergraduate administrator at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.
Wallace was paired with Yan Bennett, deputy director of the Center on Contemporary China. “We had a great conversation about our childhood and our life experiences. I was very surprised to find that even though our cultural backgrounds were different, we both grew up in the South and we had many experiences and points Our parents were integral to our success and our support network,” Wallace said, adding that she and Bennett plan to continue meeting for lunch and check-ins this year.
In addition to Princeton Together, HR has launched, expanded or enhanced many other programs and benefits that support employees and help build community.
Employee Resource Groups
More than a third of Princeton employees participate in at least one of 12 HR Employee Resource Groups (ERG). Employee-run volunteer organizations include staff members from across the University who come together based on common interests, experiences, or identities. ERGs strive to create a more inclusive environment and sense of belonging within the University, and also connect with local communities through volunteer and service events.
The ERGs include the Princetonians of Color Network, Military Service and Veterans and Women of Princeton, as well as the most recently added group, the Parents and Caregivers Network. Membership and participation in all GREs are open to all employees, regardless of their identity.
Professional development opportunities
HR has always offered a range of professional development opportunities and in the last academic year, the University hosted more than 140 professional development courses and trainings.
More recently, HR has seen increased interest in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) learnings and created the Princeton Inclusion and Diversity Certificate Program, which educates employees on diversity skills. inclusion and diversity, communication, appreciation and respect for differences, and emotions. intelligence.
Over the past year, HR has also introduced a new learning journey program developed with staff feedback from employee engagement surveys. Learning paths focus on DEI-related topics and emphasize regular on-the-job learning opportunities, rather than one-off courses.
“Learning paths are useful for creating a community of language, expectations and experience for employees,” Tiedeken said.
Trainings are led by external and internal facilitators, and HR has partnered with the Office of Disability Services, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, and Princeton faculty to facilitate sessions. They include trainings that explore topics such as inclusive language, generational diversity, identity, and unconscious bias. Over 700 employees have participated in a learning journey session over the past year.
Employee benefits and wellness programs
Human resources are an integral part of supporting employees in the workplace and beyond. health and wellness benefits and programs. In April, HR announced enhancements and increased funding for a range of employee benefit programs, in order to ensure equal access for employees. Enhanced programs include the Employee Child Care Assistance Program, Educational Assistance Plan for Children, Long-Term Disability, and Adoption and Surrogacy Benefits.
“Benefits changes not only improve fairness in accessing benefits, but in many cases, they also improve the future of employees and their children,” said Assistant Vice President of Human Resources Linda Nilsen.
Also this year, the new Employee Wellness Center opened at 350 Alexander Road, where employees can access a variety of resources to minimize healthcare costs and maximize health and wellness. Resources, offered free of charge, range from online tools for making better healthcare decisions to on-site personal health coaches. These are in addition to the regular health and benefits packages offered to full-time staff. Free, confidential appointments are available at the Employee Wellness Center with My Health Coach; Carebridge, TIAA, CAPTRUST, Isles and Doctors in Your Office.