Johnson, longtime Human Resources employee, receives UW System award

Payroll and Benefits assistant director is one of three recipients of University Staff honor
​Jerry Poling | September 26, 2022

A UW-Stout employee is one of three recipients of this year’s University Staff Excellence Awards from the UW System.

Jo Johnson, assistant director of Payroll and Benefits in Human Resources, will be honored at the UW System Board of Regents meeting Friday, Sept. 30, at UW-Eau Claire.

The awards recognize exceptional service to the university and are the UW System’s highest recognition bestowed on members of its university staff.

Johnson, of Boyceville, has worked in the Human Resources office at UW-Stout since 1999, taking on positions of greater responsibility over that time. The campus community appreciates her empathy, dependability and big-picture thinking. She helped conceive of and implement the AskHR program to ensure timely responses to requests and questions.

Jo Johnson, assistant director of Payroll and Benefits in Human Resources at UW-Stout
Jo Johnson, assistant director of Payroll and Benefits in Human Resources at UW-Stout / UW-Stout

“Our students are the reason why we are all here, and I try every day to do something to enhance their experience,” Johnson said.

She also worked with programmers to develop a work overload tracker to replace an outdated spreadsheet system. For both new systems, she helped implement the software solutions and the change management process.

Johnson is part of the Administrative Transformation Project advisory committee and collaborates with UW-Shared Services to provide feedback and review training materials developed for payroll and benefits across the entire UW System. She became a trusted resource for employees to go to for help and guidance during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She earned the Stout University Staff Employee of the Month in January 2018 and has been nominated for the award more than any other employee.

“I have had the opportunity to interact with Jo on several occasions, and every interaction with her has left me impressed,” Chancellor Katherine Frank said. “She is knowledgeable, thorough, professional and goes above and beyond her responsibilities to ensure that questions are answered and tasks are completed. I know that my experiences are not unique.”

Terry McCann, senior Human Resources officer at UW-Stout, echoed Frank’s comments.

“As assistant director of Payroll and Benefits at UW-Stout, the position requires interaction with a magnitude of different internal and external stakeholders of different educational, cultural and social backgrounds. It also requires the ability to liaise between different departments. Success is dependent on strong communication and interpersonal skills. Ms. Johnson approaches every personal interaction consciously and with purpose,” McCann said.

The awards, in their second year, are part of a family of awards that the Regents sponsor, including the Regents Teaching Excellence Awards, the Regents Academic Staff Excellence Awards, and the Regents Diversity Awards.

“The Board of Regents is proud to recognize this year’s recipients of the University Staff Excellence Awards,” said Regent Kyle Weatherly, chair of the selection committee. “We are delighted to spotlight the many ways their dedicated service supports student success and strengthens our UW campus communities.”

Award recipients are selected for superior performance resulting in significant contributions to the department and university; use of positive personal interaction to manage work changes; and a consistently innovative approach that improves productivity and work quality. Each recipient is awarded $7,500 to support professional development or program enhancements.

Learn more here about the other UW System recipients, from UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls.

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