Faculty, Staff To Benefit From Survey

February 5, 2002

Nick Marinello
Phone: 865-5715

A survey distributed to faculty and staff last fall was the first step in a process to revamp the menu of benefits offered to Tulane employees. "We are taking the input from the survey and trying our best to satisfy the concerns as well as the needs of the employees," said Warren Cuntz, director of employee benefits. "We can't satisfy everything, but this gives us an indication of what employees are looking for."

Cuntz said that most changes to Tulane's benefit package won't be rolled out until calendar year 2003, but he expects the changes to be comprehensive. "Everything is on the table," he said.

The survey, which was compiled and analyzed by the locally based Olinger Group, was distributed to the 4,200 faculty and staff members eligible for benefits, according to Rhonda Coignet, the director of strategic planning who coordinated the effort.

"The objective was to measure satisfaction with current benefits, determine how benefits are being used, understand preference for benefits and measure a number of aspects of our two healthcare plans," she said.

Sent out in October, the questionnaire was designed with input from the University Senate Committee on Faculty and Staff Benefits, the Staff Advisory Council and the human resources office. According to Coignet the response rate was 31 percent, or about 1,312 employees.

"We are pleased with the return," she said. The survey asked respondents to rank the importance of benefits, as well as indicate how often they used each benefit and how satisfied they were with each. Respondents also were asked to rank their interest in proposed new voluntary benefits such as short-term disability, long-term care, a wellness program and legal assistance. (Detailed results from the survey are available for viewing at the human resources' Web site.)

Respondents ranked health insurance, the retirement plan, the prescription drug plan, disability insurance and the availability of direct deposit as the five most important benefits offered by Tulane. Least important benefits included employee discounts for on-campus services, the employee assistance program, the flexible spending program, the credit union and the Reily Student Recreation Center.

Benefits that engendered most satisfaction from respondents included direct deposit, the tuition waiver, paid leave and leave policies, the retirement plan and the credit union. Respondents were least satisfied with dental insurance, the Reily Student Recreation Center, the prescription drug plan, training and professional development, dental and vision insurance and the employee assistance program. Benefits most used by respondents included health insurance, prescription drug plan, direct deposit, preventive health care and employee discounts.

Of the two health-care plans available to employees, 53 percent of respondents were enrolled in the United Healthcare HMO, while 47 percent were enrolled in the Tulane Preferred Health plan. United Healthcare registered a somewhat higher satisfaction level from respondents.

According to Cuntz, based on survey results, among the options being considered by the senate benefits committee is a move to a one-carrier plan that could offer two or three choices for coverage, depending on health needs and family size.

Cuntz said his office will go over survey results as well as study various products in the marketplace, and will have recommendations to the Committee on Faculty and Staff Benefits before the end of the semester. Meanwhile, said Coignet, focus groups are being planned to collect more information from employees.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000