Update on 2011 Objectives

These select updates represent some of the initiatives advanced out of the 2011 survey recommendations. The 2011 survey instrument, charts and tables are available on the Institutional Research and Planning Employee Survey webpage. The  2011 recommendations and subsequent response from President Skorton, VP Mary Opperman, and Cornell leadership can also be read in full.

Employee Excellence Awards

The inaugural Employee Excellence Awards were presented in 2013 to three staff for Individual Excellence, Management Excellence, and the President’s Award Winner. A fourth award was added in 2016 to recognize excellence in diversity work. Recipients receive a monetary award, and all nominees are invited to a luncheon with the university president and vice president Mary Opperman.

In 2017, the Awards Committee further streamlined the procedure and clarified criteria in response to feedback that the nomination process was not easily understood and generally burdensome.

A fifth award for Excellence in Innovation was also introduced. Consistent with President Martha Pollack’s focus on innovation during her inaugural address, this award was created to recognize staff who bring fresh ideas to their work, inspire a spirit of innovation, or are willing to take a calculated risk.

Details and criteria for each award and a list of past winners can be round on the Employee Excellence Awards website.


Lean Process Improvement

At the time of the initial 2011 response, Lean process improvement had been piloted in several units with positive results.  The committee recommended the university focus on the further implementation of Lean and communication of other existing change tools, professional and personal development offerings and solutions to manage workload. 

As of FY16 end, 90 processes were reviewed using the lean methodology with 600+ participants, resulting in more than $6.3 million saved. An overview of Lean, online request form, and results metrics are all available on the HR website. 



Workjoy is a call to reduce stress, burnout, and to bring joy, meaning and satisfaction into day-to-day work. The program is uniquely designed for Cornell employees who want to learn about mindfulness and meditation and how to apply this knowledge and practice wisdom at work. The June 2017 pilot with 24 staff members featured a one-day workshop is followed by 90 days of support and learning. Feedback was positive. One particpant wrote: "It’s been pretty life changing. During the first call someone said something that really stuck with me. She implied that doing this is really about self-respect – do I respect myself enough to care for myself? Through this program, I’m happy to confidently say yes. I’m glad you’ll be bringing it to more here at Cornell. Thank you!"


Workplace flexibility

The 2011 survey response called for deans and vice presidents to recommit themselves to the principles of our flex policy which is intended to permit staff to work in flexible ways – including flexible hours.  Staff should be able to work with their supervisor and/or HR person to knit together the priorities in their personal lives with their commitment to their jobs. We believe that when staff, supervisors and, when needed, HR, work together and plan in advance, there should be ways to accommodate for wellness plans and other personal development priorities. 

More robust flex work support and resources were developed on the HR website including an online request form intended to assist employees in developing a flexible work arrangement proposal for their supervisor’s consideration.

Efforts continue in FY18 as the Work/Life team reviews cutting edge flex policies and drafts a proposal for a new strategic approach to workplace flexibility. A new flex workshop, "Tech tools that help you work remotely and collaborate: a crash course" was implmemented.  Additional programmatic improvements include a review of the Flexible Work Arrangement Agreement Form, Wellness Release Time Guidelines, and related website content with recommendations for improvements to the workplace flexibility tools.