Manager of WorkLife Programs
Lacing up her running shoes, taking to the trails and unrolling her yoga mat are just a few ways Mindy Paulet keeps her life in a constant balance of work, family and self.
As manager of WorkLife Programs, Paulet encourages her staff to participate in what she calls "zappers." These occasional afternoon pick-me-ups are meant to reduce tension, create camaraderie, decrease stress and rejuvenate employees.
Since joining WorkLife Programs in 2002, she has been committed to bringing the same sort of balance to the lives of faculty and staff across the University.
How did you become interested in this field?
Initially I wanted to be a health and fitness writer for magazines, so after receiving my bachelor's degree in journalism, I went to graduate school for exercise science at Indiana State University. I ended up loving the science aspect of it, so I became a lot more involved in that area through research and working in the university's recreation sports department.
When I was working there, a mother called looking for a personal trainer for her son. I offered my help, and she brought in her 6-year-old son, who had been held back in school because his weight kept him from physically keeping up with the other kids. I focused on educating both him and his parents about nutrition and exercise. That experience really led me to the idea of getting into a profession where I could help people.
Beyond being able to help others, what is your favorite part of working in WorkLife Programs?
Before I came to WorkLife Programs, I had the pleasure of working at the Recreational Sports Center and Ismail Center on campus. I decided to make the change because I felt the need to reach more people at the University.
We are really lucky at Purdue to have such a large range of services to offer employees. A lot of times programs like this are outsourced or left up to one or two people, so the scope we have here is amazing.
(As a testament to Paulet's desire to serve the Purdue community, she was recognized as a Purdue Hero in 2009 and as a Tippy Connect Top 10 under 40 in 2010.)
Can you describe what you do in your current position?
As an administrator, I'm trying to look at the big picture of what Purdue employees need. WorkLife Programs is such a big umbrella, covering so many things. We look at what we can do to help Purdue employees have a better life experience at the University. It might not be us they need, but we can connect them with something in the community.
What do you do to make sure your work-life is where you need it to be?
I'm a single parent of two children, which can be very challenging, so flexibility in my job is significant. My health is important to me, and being a good example to my children is important. I do meditation and a lot of physical activity. I hire a babysitter so I can get a bike ride in after work. A really important part of what we tell people is to make social connections with people who enjoy the same things they do. So for me, joining the cycling club in Lafayette has been a great way to build connections and share the enjoyment of cycling.
What advice do you have for Purdue faculty and staff who are looking to improve their work lives?
Work-life is not a fluffy thing. It is very important for people to balance their lives. While work is a high priority, taking care of yourself should be high on the list too. If you're not doing well, then nothing else is really going to fall into place. You won't be the most effective employee, spouse, parent or friend. When you're healthy and feeling good, it emanates over everything you do.
If faculty and staff need help doing this, we have so many different resources, classes and programs to help them take the first step. We can reference a community resource list if someone is looking for a group to join or wanting to try something new in the community.
Do you find that people are hesitant to contact WorkLife Programs? If so, why do you think that is?
I think it's a combination of things. For one, we are losing ourselves in the process of trying to keep up with technology. People have trouble unplugging, so they're on call all the time. Some people feel guilty about taking time to join the programs we offer, but I really encourage supervisors to work with their employees on staffing and scheduling issues so they can attend relevant programs. I know it is hard for people to take the first step in trying something new -- a club, an activity, unplugging -- but it's completely worth that initial fear to make life better.