Trends With Benefits
Think back to your first week on the job. Amidst the endless paperwork and the time you spent figuring out your new voicemail system, you probably sat in a conference room for an hour or two and participated in an employee benefits orientation session … with maybe one or two other new hires, if that.
Jill Brown, benefits manager at Ramapo College of New Jersey, was responsible for running those sessions, and she found them as frustrating as you did. “We would typically end up doing orientation once or twice a week, and sometimes it would be one person in a room, sometimes five people,” Brown says. “Sometimes there were scheduling difficulties because you had someone working the night shift. You had different people in different employee classifications in the room together. It seemed like a big waste of time—a two-hour chunk doing it one person at a time, once a week. It was so futile.”
The time devoted to minimum-participation employee orientations was tough to justify, so the presentation was placed online.
Not to mention inefficient. As a state institution, Ramapo is subject to legislative whims in the execution of its numerous and complex benefits plans, and with Brown and a colleague being the college’s only benefits administrators, the time devoted to minimum-participation orientations was tough to justify.
Brown shared her woes with a colleague, an environmental health and safety officer who conducts training on blood-borne pathogens. That colleague suggested Brown do as she did: Record the benefits presentation and place it online for viewing at an employee’s convenience. Using TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, Brown added her voice to her existing PowerPoint file, which any new hire can access from anyplace with an internet connection. The presentation covers all aspects of benefits, including health plans, pension plans, time off from work, and policies and procedures. Since its implementation last fall, more than 50 new Ramapo employees have completed their orientation via the web.
“I can’t say I’ve heard any negative feedback,” Brown says. As at any campus, in addition to desk jockeys, the institution has job functions such as housekeepers and security officers, “and not all of them are sitting in an office with a computer at their disposal, so we have an HR conference room with a computer they can use.” Also, she adds, most people have computers at home and are becoming technologically savvy. “You can watch the presentation or listen to it whenever you want.”
The new system frees up about two extra hours a week for Brown and her colleague. That may not seem like much, but for a small office tasked with so many duties, every little bit helps a great deal. Brown, for one, expects to see many more training and orientation sessions go online in the future.
“I think it’s something that’s going to be a trend,” she says. “Resources and staff are limited, and if you can do something quicker or easier and give employees more convenience, those are all positive things that are going to keep the trend going.”