Staff Picks – Supporting Student Employee Holistic Well-Being

by Woodrós Wolford

Student staff provide valuable services for their peers while also moving towards balance with their personal, academic, and professional goals and needs. Here, ASC & Writing Center staff share some of the moves we make as supervisors to support holistic well-being for student employees. The moves shared includes ones to smooth out processes for taking time off or intentional choices in how one personally engages with student employees.

This is by no means an exhaustive list! There are so many ways staff can, and do, support students in thinking ahead realistically to take care of their needs.

As you check out these picks, consider your own experiences. What choices do you make with folks you supervise or work with? What has worked for you as an employee?

Anna Bentley – Modeling

Modeling work-life balance (or whatever you like to call it) is the most effective move I make with student staff. Supervisors can talk all day long about self-care and work-life balance, but if they don’t model it, those words feel empty and can lead to confusion and resentment. I take time off work or work from home fairly regularly, and I tell my team of student staff why I’m out to normalize taking off. Sometimes I’m sick, sometimes my kid is sick, sometimes I’m having a bad mental health day, sometimes I take off for planned vacation, or sometimes I take some time off for no particular reason at all because it’s good to do that sometimes!

Adam Lenz – Hiring & Training

We recently added a question during our hiring process that asked students to describe a situation when their time was stretched too thin. We wanted to know how they realized they had pushed themselves too hard, what they needed to get through the experience, and what the outcomes were based on their choices. Doing so has helped us better identify how we can adapt our upcoming trainings to match what our new student employees are doing, not what we want them to be doing. In this way, we better meet them where they are and improve the onboarding process to meet their personal needs and growth points.

Chris Ervin – Automatic Approval

My strategy is pretty boring and very administrative in nature. Our time-off request system is this: If there’s a shift someone needs off within a week from the current date, they can put the shift on the trade board and another consultant can pick it up. When we have capacity, I’ll remove them from the shift even if another consultant doesn’t pick it up. However, if the time-off request is more than a week away, it’s approved automatically. I combine this process with reminders to consultants to look ahead to their needs over the course of the term and submit time-off requests as early as possible. I think this strategy encourages student staff to approach their work with professionalism (looking ahead to their time-off needs) and shows that I know they are students and humans first.

Clare Creighton – Clear & Generous Deadlines

When I am responsible for requests or asks, I try to be generous with and clear about deadlines (and sometimes the rationale behind them), and when possible, I ask about folks’ capacity and when they might be able to get something done. I also have changed my mentality around reminders and nudges. We’re busy folks – I miss things (ahem, this submission); sometimes others miss things. Rather than think “I shouldn’t have to remind someone,” I accept the busyness of our lives and occasionally help folks track and prioritize when things get complex. 

Marjorie Coffey – Tech with Intention

We use a variety of technology for scheduling and communication that writing consultants often choose to access through their phones or laptops. During training, I show consultants how to update notification settings and encourage them to plan for when and how they engage with technology. I share how I think about and decide what apps to use or not outside of work and share approaches that differ from my own. I hope this encourages consultants to make intentional decisions around technology and boundaries between work and other areas of their lives.

Sarah Norek – Consistent Check-Ins

I try to check in regularly with the person I supervise to see how they’re doing. Not earth shattering, I know, but I ask each time we meet how it’s going with all they’re juggling, how they’re feeling, and what they’re thinking/noticing about work (employment) and the time they have available to do everything (school, self, etc.). A lot of our work together can be done remotely too, so I offer this/remind on this as an option for any periods of high stress or to support taking time when not feeling well but also having the option to still get those hours if wanted/desired (whether remotely then or later when feeling better).

Woodrós Wolford – Overcorrect for Neutrality

Student employees often care deeply about their work and can feel guilty taking time off to care for their own needs. So, when a student employee reaches out to me in an emergent situation to say they might need to take time off tomorrow if there’s enough coverage, I am explicit in my support of them taking care of themselves. That’s the top priority. We can solve it. This helps remove guilt about taking time off. Then, that freed energy allows folks to be more proactive in planning ahead for their needs, both for the term as a whole and in finding coverage if something comes up suddenly.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *