Townhall Meeting Responses on HR Issues

On April 5th, Penn State held a Town Hall meeting to gather feedback on human resource issues and hear staff questions. The ninety minute session did not afford enough time to address all the questions and therefore we are listing answers on the USAC website, as they are answered by the administration.

With changes to health care plans, will employees still be able to choose their own physicians and providers?

David Gray, Sr. Vice President for Finance & Business – Yes. We’ll continue to provide choice and have a broad and wide physician network.

Does Penn State have any resources to help employees facing hardships?

Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources – Yes, Penn State offers an Employee Assistance Fund. This is an endowed fund for employees to receive money for serious financial hardship that does not have to be paid back. You may begin your application through the Office of Human Resources’ website.

What will WorkLion mean for Penn State employees?

David Gray, Sr. Vice President for Finance & Business – The WorkLion project is aimed to be a complete human resources and payroll systems replacement for the ESSIC platform. It will be much more user friendly and as a web-based portal, you will have on-demand access to your pay and benefits information.

What is Penn State’s goal in hiring?

Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources – Recruitment at Penn State is committed to Affirmative Action and we are an Equal Opportunity employer. Our Affirmative Action plan is outsourced and it is our plan to guide and help us understand and appreciate where we have underrepresentation and can improve. We are already a very diverse campus, and while it is not all measured in the plan, our continued commitment to diversity in hiring remains important to the institution.

Would the University consider switching to a paid time off model instead of separating vacation and sick time?

Greg Stoner, Sr Director of Compensations & Benefits – A paid time off program is a contemporary way for employers and employees to manage unscheduled time off from work. But the devil’s in the details. Moving from the structure that Penn State has today where there are separate buckets of time for personal, vacation, and sick to a consolidated bucket of time off is challenging. It will require a lot of analysis and discussions on how we migrate from what we have, to what we may want to consider having, under a paid time off program. That being said, I think it’s an initiative that Penn State should consider.

Why do increases in healthcare costs seem to outpace salary increases?

Greg Stoner, Sr Director of Compensations & Benefits – Penn State’s total compensation program has many components. This includes base salary, healthcare, paid time off, retirement, etc. All of these benefits are paid from the same general funds pool of assets. If we can collaborate together in terms of better managing our healthcare costs, that frees up monies to help fund other components of our total compensation program.