Mason wins Work-Life award for fifth consecutive year

(Photo credit: Amy Rose/Fourth Estate) 

Mason has again been awarded WorldatWork’s annual Work-Life Seal of Distinction. This is the fifth consecutive year that Mason has been granted the distinction.

This award is given to employers that, according to WorldatWork’s website, “demonstrate leadership in creating a culture that supports employees at work and at home.”

The university joined other institutions like George Washington University, Brown University, University of Michigan, Yale and 111 other corporate, government and educational recipients selected from a total of 142 organizations. WorldatWork is a non-profit human resources association that works to improve employees’ access to and use of a “total rewards program” of human resources benefits.

Janet Walker, life/work connections manager of the Human Resources Office at Mason, responded to the award in an email saying, “Recognition by WorldatWork is an honor and an opportunity.”

Walker attributed Mason’s continued success in part to its Quality of Work Life (QWL) Task Force. The QWL is made up of faculty and staff from Mason who conduct a triennial survey of Mason’s work force to observe its concerns. The QWL began in 2000 and has lead to new initiatives such as teleworking and flextime as well as transportation to the Science and Technology campus.

Walker pointed even further back to the creation of a Child Development Center in 1992 and Mason’s annual Health and Wellness Expo, first held in 1996. The university has also launched new resources in the last few years to address both the financial health and physical health of its employees. Some of these resources included financial resources offered through seminars, online programs and through partnerships with retirement vendors. Health improvements were linked in part to Mason’s decision to take part in the Partnership for Healthy America’s healthy campus initiative.

Rose Stanley, senior practice leader at WorldatWork, said in an email that the Work-Life Seal of Distinction “honors those organizations that work toward providing a positive employee experience by offering programs that enhance an employee’s ability to achieve better work-life integration.”

While the majority of this year’s applicants received the honor, WorldatWork does reevaluate those that do not qualify if they reapply in the future

Communication Professor David Miller, coordinator of the Media Production & Criticism Program, said he feels that Mason has enabled him to have a healthy work-life balance.

“I have found that in my immediate community of department colleagues, supportive leadership [are those] who do demonstrate care for one’s well-being,” Miller said.

Miller added that being a professor is a helpful in and of itself because he is able to set his own schedule. However, he said that the professors may end up doing more work because, “If we are not in [the] classroom, we are in the office. If not in the office, we are at home grading. If not grading, we are preparing or catching up on administrative tasks or committee assignments.”

Miller also said the responsibility of dividing one’s time time between work and family falls on employees, too — not just the employer.

Among the university-sponsored programs aimed to support faculty and staff, Walker said that staff support groups demonstrate the value of shared interests and understanding “individual faculty and staff members can and do create work/life opportunities for their colleagues.”

Walker said that while Mason’s Work-Life distinction is positive, it is not the end goal. “It means we are on the right track,” Walker said, “but we must always be evaluating how Mason can continue to support and enhance work-life opportunities for its faculty and staff.”