Benefiting U

Benefiting U
Benefits annual open enrollment is open from May 11 through June 7. Open enrollment packets will be mailed to employees’ homes and should arrive by May 22. All documents are now available on the benefits department’s website at This year we have a new online enrollment tool for employees, called UBenefits, to view or update health plan elections and enroll in the FSA/HSA plans for the new plan year.

The first open enrollment session will be on Monday, May 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Union Building lobby. Representatives from many of the university’s benefit plan administrators (including health plans, WellU options and retirement plans) will be in attendance to answer any questions you have about your options. Other open enrollment sessions will be held during the first week of June.




As we approach the end of the fiscal year, many of us struggle with the tight parameters for pay increases. It’s common for a department’s leadership to wonder how they can retain high performing employees with a limited budget.

However, there are non-monetary factors that employees consider just as important (if not more so) than pay. In a 2011 survey conducted by Mercer, with participants from companies across the United States, employees were asked what factors influence their motivation and engagement at work. Base pay was ranked lower than you might think:

1. Being treated with respect

Tied for 2:

  • Work-life balance
  • Quality of leadership of the organization
  • Working in an environment where I can provide good service to others

Tied for 3:

  • The type of work I do
  • The quality of the people I work with

4. Benefits

5. Base pay

With these factors in mind, some low cost/no cost things you can focus on to increase employee engagement and help with retention are communication, reward and recognition and professional development.


Employees want to know what is expected of them and how they are performing. Set expectations early and often, beginning at the job interview and onboarding and continued throughout their employment. Performance management should not occur only once per year, so make time to speak to your team members about their performance. The new online University of Utah Performance Management tool (UUPM) can help you document performance. Ask employees for their input on projects and daily tasks and ask them for help. Be transparent about your department’s goals and strategic objectives and ensure your employees know why their contributions are important to those goals and objectives.

Reward and recognition:

It only takes a few minutes to write a thank you card and employees love to receive them. If an employee makes a significant contribution to your team, consider announcing it at a staff meeting or even asking them to present the information to the team. Express gratitude frequently with specific feedback about what’s going well. The University of Utah has a Staff Service Awards program that includes a gift for employees who reach 5 years of employment and every 5 years after, so consider presenting their gift to them at a staff meeting or luncheon. The University of Utah also has a Staff Excellence Awards program, so consider nominating your high performers.

Professional development:

Employees love opportunities for learning, growth and advancement. Utilize the great classes and programs available through Training & Development at University Human Resource Management. Consider asking high performers to be on project teams, lead meetings and take on new tasks. Provide a variety of tasks to keep them interested and ask them what areas of their development they would like to focus on.

Please feel free to contact your HR team to help you development a retention plan for your team.


  • Mercer’s “What’s Working” ᵀᴹ survey 2011
  • Center for Creative Leadership,
  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources,