Meet Mike Vinson, problem-solver

Mike Vinson began his college career at South Carolina before earning his degree from Southern Wesleyan University. The Irmo native says he has always thought of the university as part of his home. That’s why he welcomed the opportunity this summer to join the Human Resources Department as the employee relations manager.

“This first six months has really been about me listening and observing and helping supervisors and employees resolve issues; that helps me understand where we currently are with employee relations,” Vinson says.

His primary goals for this year are improved employee engagement and helping faculty and staff understand university policies and how they apply to each individual at the university.

So, what exactly is employee engagement?

“Having employees really invested in their job, invested in their own growth within USC and moving their department forward in business,” Vinson says.

Vinson says one of the biggest changes in policy that will affect workers in the coming year is the tobacco-free campus.

“I really have some concerns about helping employees get past that hurdle, helping resolve issues as they come up, which I think they are going to,” Vinson says. “I think that’s probably going to be our biggest issue.”

Vinson, who previously worked with Amazon and Terex Corp., has almost 20 years’ experience in human resources. He sees his role at South Carolina as both an advocate for employees and a partner helping the university reach its goals.

“I am really an action-oriented guy,” he says. “Sometimes I feel like we get caught in analysis-paralysis, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. Sooner or later, you have to take action. It has been a fun and exciting challenge for me to help move the department forward while learning the culture of the university. I have a great boss and great people that work for me. They help me understand the culture and how to make changes in the right way.”

Vinson is working with all University of South Carolina system employees – about 14,000 people on eight campuses, including part-timers.

Typically, he says, he sees employees after they have become frustrated with a situation. His office handles about 500 employee issues a year. But, he says, he would rather help people head off their problems or figure out how to enjoy their jobs more.

“We see employees when they have a problem and need some help. They have exhausted their ability to resolve it and they need some help,” he says. “We would like it to be other times, when they come to us for coaching or they come to us for career development kind of information.”

The 51-year-old Vinson has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is working on a master’s degree in human resources. He has been certified as a senior human resources professional through the Society for Human Resources Managers.

He and his wife have four children – the youngest, a senior at South Carolina – and a new granddaughter.

“I’ve said my whole career, if I ever got an opportunity, I’d love to come back here. Having lived in Columbia most of my life, USC has always been my home,” he says. “This was a great opportunity so I thought it was a great place to work and a good opportunity to have an impact on an organization.”

Make contact

The Employee Relations Office is located in 803-C, 1600 Hampton St. You can call 803-777-7550 or visit the website.

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