Office of Human Resources                                                            November 2011



 Your Source for University Human Resources News and Information

Upcoming Workshops


Two New Computer Classes In 2012!


Microsoft OneNote

OneNote makes it easy to take notes, store and file information and capture ideas in one electronic file. You can write your own notes, insert files from other software, and download web content in a searchable, easily organized tool. Quickly and easily consolidate your notes, refer to them, and share information with others.

January 14, 1:00-4:00 p.m. Register here.


Dreamweaver: Newsletters

Many of us use Dreamweaver to add, update and maintain content for our web pages, but did you know you can use it to generate the html for professional, polished newsletters as well? Use graphics, links, and customizable text to design newsletters you can email to your readers.

January 17, 9:00 a.m.- Noon. Register here.



Employee of the Year 2012 Nominations Brown Bag

HRD545: Writing Compelling Employee of the Year Nominations


Is there someone in your department who goes above and beyond his or her normal duties, is dedicated and effective, and deserves to be recognized? Has he or she worked full time at Northwestern for three or more continuous years? If you've answered yes to both those questions, then this class is for you. In one lunch-time session, you will learn how to write an Employee of the Year Nomination Form that is both specific and meaningful. 

Registration starts November 1st.  For more information.


Inside This Issue
Upcoming Workshops
Benefits Briefs
HR Services
Work/Life Resources
FASIS Updates
Learning and Organization Development
Quick Links
Perspectives FSAP - New and improved! 



Update on Office of Equal Opportunity and Access


After serving for more than five years as the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, Ms. Pam Pirtle has informed us that she will not return to that position following her current leave of absence. Pam has achieved numerous accomplishments during her time at Northwestern, and we all extend to her our best wishes in her future endeavors. She has agreed to serve as an OEOA advisor to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources during the coming weeks while a search is conducted to fill this important position.


In the meantime, Ms. Leah Gidron, EEO Consultant in the OEOA office, has agreed to serve as the Acting Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. Leah has worked in this office over the past two years, and she has demonstrated a strong commitment to the mission of the office and developed a reputation for her fair and thorough investigative abilities, among other talents. Leah holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley and a JD from the Northwestern University School of Law.


Many thanks are extended to Leah Gidron, Tasha Shelton, Tina Curry and Gloria Young for all of their efforts to ensure that the activities of the OEOA office continue to be addressed during this period of transition.


The Office of Equal Opportunity and Access is located at 720 University Place, and the telephone number to reach an OEOA representative is 847-491-7458.


Employer Assisted Housing Program  

Northwestern University is offering an Employer Assisted Housing pilot program to help eligible faculty and staff take advantage of Live Evanston, a City of Evanston initiative that makes attractive, high quality homes and condos affordable for moderate income families. For more information.


Help the NU Cares Program Grow!

NU Cares offers faculty and staff an opportunity to make contributions to assist fellow employees who may be experiencing a crisis. Thanks to the many generous contributions received to date, we have met our initial goal, and are accepting applications. To learn more about the fund, how you can help, and how to apply, please click here.

Benefits Briefs


Health Insurance Premium Holiday


We are happy to announce that November 2011 is a health insurance premium holiday for active Northwestern University faculty and staff. Individuals enrolled in the Premier PPO, Select PPO, Value PPO, HMO Illinois or Cigna International will not have regular health insurance premium deductions on the biweekly paychecks dated November 4 and 18, or on the monthly paycheck dated November 30. Although these deductions will not appear on your paycheck, there is no gap in your insurance coverage for you and your family members.


You will continue to see your regular premiums for dental, vision, and other non-medical plans throughout the month of November. If you were contacted by the Benefits Division regarding a special retroactive charge for a prior month of coverage, this will still be deducted.


If you have any questions, please contact the Benefits Division at 847-491-7513 or



Benefits Briefs - Open Enrollment Reminder


With Open Enrollment coming to a close on November 11 at 5:00 pm CST, it is important that you complete your elections through Self Service, submit all relevant forms to the Benefits Division, and print your preliminary confirmation statement.


Complete Your Elections through Self Service: 

  • If you are currently enrolled in a health care, limited-use or dependent care FSA or an HSA and you want to continue participating in 2012, you MUST actively re-enroll in these plans. Your FSA Debit Card will continue to be valid until the expiration date listed on the card. PayFlex will send you a new FSA Debit Card when your current card expires.

Submit Forms to the Benefits Division:

  • If you are adding a new dependent to your health insurance you must provide proof of dependency prior to January 1, 2012. If documentation is not provided before the beginning of the plan year the dependent will be dropped and will not be eligible for coverage until Open Enrollment 2013 unless there is a qualifying change in family status.
  • If you are re-enrolling in the dependent care FSA, and you wish to apply for the University match, you MUST submit a copy of your 2010 United States income tax form 1040 along with the Dependent Care Match application to the Benefits Division. 
  • If you are enrolling in or increasing your life insurance coverage for 2012, you will need to complete an Evidence of Insurability Form.  This includes Basic Life Insurance increases, Supplemental Life Insurance and Spouse Life. 

All forms must be received by November 11 at 5:00 pm CST. You can drop off your form(s) at the Benefits Office, 720 University Place, on the Evanston Campus or at Abbott Hall, 710 N. Lake Shore Drive, on the Chicago Campus.


Print your Confirmation of Benefit Plan Elections statement:

  1. Once you have completed your 2012 Open Enrollment election, click on the "Submit" button on the bottom of the summary page.
  2. You will be taken to the Submit Benefit Plan Selections screen. Under the Authorize Election section, click on the "Submit" button.
  3. The next Screen is the Submit Sections screen, click on the "Continue" button.
  4. Next, you will see the Open Enrollment screen. In the Open Benefit Event box, click on "View Benefits Confirmation Statement" link.
  5. On the Confirmation of Benefit Plan Elections screen, click on the "Print" button located in the upper right corner of the screen.

Need help deciding?  Visit the Benefits Website for additional tools and resources to help you make your decisions, including the Health Care Decision Tool kit located at

As always, please contact the Benefits Division with questions at or 847-491-7513.



Conducting Reference Checks


As a hiring manager, nothing is more important than ensuring you are hiring the best possible talent for your team. One of the simplest but most powerful tools available to support you in this effort is the reference checking process. Conducting reference checks can provide you with valuable information on a candidate's past performance and substantiate that you are making the right decision. In other cases, it can keep you from making a bad hiring decision, as well as save you time during the hiring process.


Both what the references say, as well as what they don't say, can be telling. Pay particular attention to the tone of the conversation and how the individual responds to your questions. If there is a particular competency that is critical for success, a reference check is the perfect opportunity to focus on this to gather more information. Make sure the reference provides complete and detailed responses. If one word answers are provided, ask the person to expand on their response or provide more details. Conducting reference checks is also a good way to confirm information that has been listed on the application and resume, such as the duration of employment at a particular company, job duties, and salary history.


Northwestern requires a minimum of two professional reference checks once a final candidate has been selected and prior to an offer being extended. Normally, one of these references should include the current supervisor or, if the individual is not currently employed, the most recent past supervisor. The Staffing Team is trained in conducting reference checks and will work with you to complete these once you have identified a final candidate.


If you have questions regarding the University's reference check process for staff positions, or would like further information, please contact your department's Staffing Consultant.

HR Services

It's Time for a Mid-Year Performance Check-In


In early June of this year, most managers and employees met to discuss performance and development objectives for this performance year (running from June 2011 to the end of May 2012). 

Now is a good time for managers and employees to meet to discuss progress toward performance and development objectives.


Here are the steps that employees and their managers should take prior to the performance check-in meeting:

  • The manager and employee work together to schedule a time for the mid-year performance check-in.
  • About two weeks before the check-in meeting, the employee reviews his or her objectives and notes progress on each objective using the Performance Excellence form.* The employee then emails a copy of the updated Performance Excellence form to his or her manager.
  • The manager reviews the employee's objectives and self-assessment. The manager notes his or her thoughts on the working copy of the employee's Performance Excellence form. 

At the performance check-in meeting, the manager and employee should cover the following:

  • The manager may begin by asking the employee to outline progress on each objective. 
  • The manager discusses his or her perspective on the employee's progress for each objective.  The manager provides specific examples, particularly for any areas where the employee's performance is not meeting expectations.  The manager shares with the employee any additions or edits he or she will make to the employee's comments.
  • The manager and employee adjust the objectives, if needed. If there is an objective that is no longer valid, delete it.  Alternatively, there may be an objective that has been successfully completed and that success may need to be recognized and captured on the form. Finally, if needed, consider editing or adding additional objectives.  Note any changes on the form.
  • Review the developmental objectives and the employee's progress.
  • Discuss the NU Behaviors, particularly if there is something that stands out.

Additional resources are available at  If you have any questions about this process, please contact your HR Consultant.  


* Some schools or departments may be using the Performance Review form for exempt/non-exempt staff.


Work/Life Resources 


Striving for a Healthy Balance:

The Northwestern University Office of Work/Life Resources provides programs, services and consultation to enable staff and faculty to effectively balance the competing demands of work and home. 


Work/Life Matters

On October 26th, the Women's Center and the Office of Work/Life Resources co-sponsored a panel presentation in recognition of National Work and Family Month. Northwestern colleagues shared their strategies for finding balance in their busy schedules. Here are a few strategies that were highlighted:

  • Let go of perfectionism.
  • Build a support network and reach out if you need help.
  • Be kind to yourself, avoid being self-critical.
  • Delegate what you can.
  • Recognize that your priorities will shift, depending on the situation.
  • Be flexible.
  • Set limits. Just say "no".

If you are looking for opportunities to continue the dialogue, consider the work/life balance support group. For more information, contact Phyllis Ellis at or 7-1460. You may also contact the Office of Work/Life Resources at 1-3612 for an individual consultation.


On-Going Programs - New Participants Are Welcome!
Elder Caregiving Support Group
Monday, November 28 - Noon - Norris Center, Evans Room
For those who are providing caregiving for elders or who anticipate providing care.  For further information or to respond, contact Phyllis Ellis: or 7-1460.


Work/Life Balance Support Group  

Tuesday, November 29 - Noon - Norris Center, Evans Room 

For those who are looking for balance in their work and personal lives.  For further information or to respond, contact Phyllis Ellis: or 7-1460.


Weight Watchers @ Work

A new session of Weight Watchers at Northwestern has started. For more information, contact Tamara Rosner at or 1-2209.

FASIS Updates 


Coming Soon: Option to Elect to Receive Electronic W2 Form

In mid-December, via Self Service, employees will have an option to select their preference to receive their 2011 W2 form electronically or in a paper format. Additional information and instructions on how to make that choice will be shared with employees in early December.

Learning & Organization Development


The Northwestern University Learning & Organization Development (L&OD) team collaborates with faculty and staff who want to develop their talent and advance their workplace outcomes, processes and engagement. L&OD provides consulting, coaching, workshops, retreats and tools for individuals, groups and organizations.


Registration Opens for Winter Workshops

Registration is now open for workshops offered in December, January and February. Check your mailbox for our winter catalogue or look online to see what's coming up.

We offer a variety of workshops and opportunities to help improve workplace performance.  Check them out! Questions? Comments?  or 847-467-5081.