Faculty and Staff

Communication and empathy help teams, managers with transition back to campus

August 17, 2021

The transition back to campus may be a challenging process for some staff and faculty, but SFU’s Human Resources strategic business partners are here to provide insights and support teams as they adjust.

Among other issues, the pandemic has caused challenges with childcare and generated apprehension around returning to in-person activities.

To address and potentially mitigate anxiety around these issues, leaders should communicate and engage with team members, says Erica Gooyers, strategic business partner.

Erica Gooyers, strategic business partner, SFU Human Resources.

“Make sure you have one-on-one time with each individual employee,” Gooyers recommends. “Listen to your team members and recognize individual circumstances. Ensure whatever decisions are made are communicated in such a way so that everyone is on the same page and so they all understand the direction they’re going.”

To help leaders guide their team through the transition, SFU Human Resources has created a series of step-by-step planning guides. Transition plans will be approved by deans or department heads. Leaders are also encouraged to read the Faculty and Staff FAQs and to learn about the available mental health and wellbeing resources.

If leaders need human resources guidance and support, particularly with complex human resources issues, she recommends getting in contact with SFU Human Resources’ Strategic Business Partner Services Team.

“It’s a transitional time for everyone in their lives,” says Gooyers. “Everyone is adjusting to what the new normal looks like. And really, because the HR Strategic Business Partners are so involved in the client groups, we’re in tune with what other departments are doing. We can share best practices and strategies that leaders can incorporate into their team’s transition.”

For many faculty and staff, the pandemic underscored the benefits of flexible working arrangements and working from home.

This spring, SFU established a working group that is developing tools and guiding principles on how hybrid work might look at SFU, with a “test and learn” approach planned for the fall to inform SFU’s longer term strategy.  

In the transitionary period this fall, work arrangements will vary from department to department depending on what works for that unit’s operations and what works for their people.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all,” says Gooyers. “The HR strategic business partners are available and want to work with leaders to best support transition and, if it works operationally, to support them in trying out hybrid-working options for their teams. And, if it’s not hybrid work, how else can we be flexible in supporting our employees during transition.

We can provide  insights, tools and resources on how to incorporate flexibility into this fall’s transition period."

To learn more about the Human Resources support for the transition back to campus, including mental health support and information about workplace accommodations, visit the manager and supervisor FAQ section of SFU’s Return to Campus website.