Work-life harmony resonated deeply with the winner of Virginia Tech's 2015 Supervisor Spotlight Award. 

Holly Matusovich understands the importance of this concept and strives to regularly provide it to her team. Matusovich is the assistant department head for graduate programs in engineering education, one of the first departments in the country to offer graduate programs.

Honorable mention recognition went to Col. Dave Miller, USA (ret.), deputy commandant for leader development and director of the Rice Center for Leader Development and Gregorio Valdez, assistant professor at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, College of Science, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The award is presented annually to the supervisor who best exemplifies and promotes work-life balance through consistent recognition of and responsiveness to their employees' professional and personal lives.

Work-life balance is becoming increasing-important to workers. 

In the last decade, according to a survey by LexisNexis, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of articles written in  the top 100 newspapers and magazines about work-life balance.From 1986 to 1996, there were just 32 articles using that term but there were more 1,674 articles in 2007 alone. Today, a Google search of work-life balance turns up 175 million results. 

Stephanie Adams, director for engineer education, said Matusovich strives to have a positive impact on her team’s work-life harmony.

“Holly is an advocate for staff and she empowers her staff to take ownership of their work and inspires them to give their best effort.  Personally, she is an avid runner, a dancer and swims regularly.  She promotes health and wellness and sets a standard for others. This award recognized her contribution and efforts and will surely inspire others to strive to do the same.”

Cheryl Carrico, postdoctoral associate, spoke about how Matusovich takes an active role in supporting members of the Studies in Motivation, Identity, and Learning in Engineering research group. “Holly will ask others if they are keeping time for themselves and the importance of doing so.”

Matusovich also recognizes the importance of flexibility for her team when it comes to maintaining work-life harmony. She is open to alternate work locations if an employee needs to concentrate on writing. Linda Hazelwood, academic programs coordinator, said Matusovich understand the positive impact flexible work options can have on employees.

“She realizes that if they are better able to attend to family or personal needs through flex-time that we are more likely to be content and productive,” Hazelwood said. “She realizes that the regular structure of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the office is not the most productive approach to some individuals.”

With a little planning and conniving by her team, Matusovich was surprised when the Hokie Wellness staff presented her the award at a gathering of colleagues in the “Capsule” in Goodwin Hall.

The significance of the award is not lost on Adams.

“I am extremely proud that the supervisor spotlight winner is in engineering education. It is a sign that, contrary to popular belief, engineers are people too; that we value work-life harmony, we practice sound management practices, and we value and promote leadership. Holly brings lessons she learned as a manager in industry to her day-to-day interactions with staff and we are all the better for that.”

Written by Ana Agud, wellness program coordinator, Hokie Wellness.

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