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Making Strides with Collaboration, Efficiencies

Three sets of hands working on laptop, tablet and mobile phone, all showing graphs and charts

Improvements to several of our workplace processes and systems have increased collaboration opportunities and university-wide efficiency gains. These changes were directly informed by the 2015 staff survey results showing staff desire better ways to collaborate and want to see process and system improvements to support greater efficiency.

In 2016, members of the Administrative Planning Executive Committee (APEx), a cross-functional group of university leaders, conducted dozens of focus groups with over 400 staff members to better understand the improvements staff felt were the most important, and worked with various departments to make changes. Making the changes happen isn’t always a simple task, but some improvements have been made this year.

Kelly Wright, Payroll Director, oversaw the automation of timecard notifications in spring quarter, and shared that “The automated reminders are helping to eliminate redundant processes that were taking up administrative time. Administrative Associates and Time & Leave Administrators no longer have to send reminders to their staff to submit timecards or to managers to do reviews and approvals. Automating the reminders allowed our colleagues to recapture valuable time, and we also improve our institutional time reporting compliance.” 

Many of the changes have involved staff taking action in some way, and the response has been enthusiastic. Among the recent updated processes and systems are:

  • Over 3,000 staff updated their work contact information in StanfordYou, resulting in greater availability of contact information in the StanfordWho directory. The updated staff “profiles” means better opportunities for collaboration and connection, especially when seeking work information for others when searching in the online directory.
  • The automated Axess timecard notifications for employees and managers showed a 2% increase (over 450 employees) in on-time submission of timecards, with similar results for manager reviews and approvals. Though 2% may sound like a small increase and our community already does a good job with timecards, the “overhead” associated with the timecard process has been reduced with the automated reminders.
  • Improved information security with vendors used by employees to require two-step authentication, SUNet ID login, or increased password complexity; vendors include Fidelity, My Benefits, and Mercer.
  • Mandated sexual harassment training was implemented within STARS to allow for tracking, reporting, and automated training reminders. The training was previously administered separately, didn’t have web authentication for login, and the tracking and reporting needed improvements.  All of those issues have now been addressed for this training.
  • Video conferencing tools were launched (Zoom and WebEx) to support virtual connections and increase collaboration. These technology tools, in addition to Jabber for instant chat, enable employees to stay in touch whether working in the same group, the next building or hundreds of miles away.

We are collectively making efforts to improve in other areas, too. One project underway is for a master temporary hiring contract, and the project is being managed by Procurement and University HR. The program will include a new process for managers to use when hiring a temporary staff member from an agency. Use of the master agreement will mean significant efficiency improvements in the temporary staff hiring processes (the required background checks, payroll services, hours tracking and associated tax reporting will all be managed by the “master service provider”). More information will be shared in coming months.

It’s likely that some of the thousands of ideas submitted as part of the Long-Range Planning initiative may inspire new ways to tackle our workplace challenges. And with the next staff engagement survey planned for winter quarter 2018, we anticipate more feedback and ideas from staff that will help to improve our workplace.

Manager Toolkit, Engage