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Feb. 18, 2010 Volume 31, No. 20

UM System survey asks faculty and staff about pay and benefits package

Avenue for input

Survey results will be used in benefits strategic planning

The University of Missouri’s long list of benefit programs make up a significant portion of its total compensation package for employees. Beginning Feb. 15, UM System faculty and staff are being asked for their comments on pay and benefits in an online survey that will conclude Feb. 28.

The survey, developed for the University by consulting firm Hewitt and Associates, is completely confidential, and UM administrators will not have access to individual responses. Mike Paden, associate vice president for benefits, says he encourages all employees to provide their feedback on the pay and benefits study.

“This survey is an opportunity for employees to tell us what they value most — and least — in their benefit packages,” Paden says. “Employees have asked for an avenue to provide input on benefit issues. This survey is one of the avenues that are being made available to allow for employee input.”

He says that survey results will be tabulated by an outside consulting firm and are expected to be available in late March or early April. “We will communicate to employees the results in a variety of ways,” Paden says, “such as e-mail, over the Web and one-on-one with key groups at all campuses.

He says UM President Gary Forsee and curators will be briefed on the survey results following an analysis by outside consultants. “The survey will be used as a tool by UM Human Resources and the UM retirement and staff benefits committee in strategic planning efforts for University benefit programs,” Paden says.

The survey asks faculty and staff to rate how important current benefit programs are to them, and it asks about employees’ interest in potentially new areas of benefits: group rates for auto and homeowners insurance, critical illness, legal services, on-site child care and defined contribution plan concepts with matching employee and employer contributions.

It also asks employees how important they think it would be for the University to provide medical coverage for domestic partners if the funding becomes available in the future. “Based on studies we’ve received, we estimate that costs would increase by 2 percent for medical benefits coverage” for domestic partners, Paden says. “This translates to about $3 million per year. This increase would be attributable to the increase in the number of individuals covered under the plan.”    

Although some faculty and staff have raised concerns that the survey will be used to identify benefit areas for cuts and eliminations, that is definitely not the case, Paden says. “This survey is not being conducted as a response to addressing budget cuts. Rather, the University wants to ensure that the ways in which it spends its resources on benefits are in keeping with the needs and interests of its employees.”