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K-State Today

February 26, 2019

A letter from vice president for Human Capital Services Jay Stephens

Submitted by Jay Stephens

Dear University Community,

To increase Human Capital Services' communication with campus I will be providing quarterly updates on initiatives we are working on and ways we are partnering with university stakeholders to improve the employee experience and contribute to achieving our K-State 2025 goals. 

I recently hung in my office a print of a painting titled "Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog" by German artist Caspar David Friedrich. It depicts a man on a rocky outcrop looking over a valley shrouded in fog. I think the message for me is about taking the time to gain a different point of view and gain some perspective. Down in the fog-shrouded valley, the view might be obscured but getting up on the rocks a beautiful vista is revealed. There is a lot going on for the university right now: strategic enrollment, new budget model work is ongoing, and the legislature is back in session. As I think about perspective on all the strategic initiatives, climbing to the overlook I see a great future. I love this university and the people who make it special every day. All of this work is about making the university better, giving us more stability, pushing to the future and keeping K-State a great place to learn, work and make amazing contributions.

With that in mind, I wanted to provide information on the following efforts in Human Capital Services:

  • K-State New Employee Welcome: This new employee welcome program will go live April 10 and from there on will occur on the second Wednesday every month, "Welcome Wednesday." We will provide new employees with an outstanding introduction to K-State. Once a decision is made to hire someone, there is a process we go through bringing them onto campus and completing all of the necessary steps. We are aiming to make that experience more efficient, faster and to provide people with an amazing introduction to becoming a part of the K-State family. Among those who will be involved in this employee welcome are: the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the K-State Alumni Association, faculty from the College of Human Ecology and the K-State Polytechnic campus, and HCS staff.

  • Paid parental leave: Late last year then Gov. Colyer issued an executive order granting paid parental leave to state employees. He exempted the Regents universities and indicated they could develop their own policy. The Kansas Board of Regents asked the universities to come together to draft a policy to take to the board. I was tasked with coordinating this effort among the regents universities' HR departments and am happy to say we have completed that work. The proposed policy went before the Council of Presidents last week and will be taken up next by the Kansas Board of Regents Fiscal Affairs and Audit Committee. Hopefully, this will lead to full adoption by the board and we can get this amazing benefit in place as quickly as possible. 

  • K-State Supervisory Foundations: I could not be more pleased to announce that the K-State Supervisory Foundations training program will be kicking off with its pilot group in March. This effort is a direct response to what the university told us it needed in the needs assessment and climate survey. I cannot say enough about our own Learning and Development team and all the partners we have. Participants are going to receive content from some of our amazing faculty members and other experts. This is an investment in all our supervisors, those they supervise and is a strong statement about the kind of culture we want for our employees. 

  • Global Competency Framework: Work on a global competency framework continues with four teams filled with people from all parts of the university focusing on competency modeling, career paths, performance management and career development. You can view these teams on our website and see what they are working on. The teams have explored what other universities are doing, found best practices and are providing recommendations on what might be the right approach for K-State. This initiative is a multiyear effort that will move at a deliberate pace that recognizes our ability to absorb change, the capacity we and our partners have to make it happen and the priorities of the university as a whole. 

  • Process improvement: We also are looking at internal process improvement. Some of our groups, specifically payroll, the resource center and benefits in partnership with the Information Systems Office have been pushing through process and procedures to streamline and make things more efficient. The ISO has been such a valuable partner and I want to thank Betsy Draper, Darci Potroff and Loren Wilson particularly for making this such a value-added experience.

In all of this work, we are fortunate and happy that so many university stakeholders are engaged with us, have responded and teamed up with us. 


Jay Stephens
Vice President for Human Capital Services