Throughout working from home much of the past year, UTIA, its 95 Extension offices and 10 AgResearch Centers across the state have placed high priority on remaining safely connected. Efforts to keep employees informed, engaged and supported have allowed UTIA to move forward together, while still maintaining a strong connection with the millions of Tennesseans impacted by UTIA each year.
With the continuation of Senior Vice President and Senior Vice Chancellor Tim Cross’s Fireside Chats—which began as a weekly way to stay connected in the earliest days of the pandemic—employees have been able to join monthly engaging sessions featuring among others, UT President Randy Boyd, former UT Knoxville Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey and Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary-Margaret Fill as guest speakers. UTIA is now organizing a leadership workshop to prepare supervisors for the responsibility of creating a staffing plan and employee work location recommendations for the upcoming return to the workplace.
Digital efforts to remain connected also included the continuation of virtual employee recognition and appreciation, as well as increased offerings of digital physical and mental health resources.
“I’m very proud of the commitment demonstrated by the UTIA community over the past year as our faculty and staff strived to maintain continuity of services and programming across that state. As our focus now shifts to returning more of our team members to the physical workplace, I’m really looking forward to seeing others in person again,” UTIA Human Resources Officer Doug Bohner said. “Just like everything else we do, this will be a team effort between our leadership team supporting creative solutions to maintaining the health and safety of our workforce, while each of us do our individual part to protect ourselves and those around us. I encourage everyone to get the COVID vaccine.”