Summary of 2010 Open Forum discussions

SESSION I – April 6, 2010 - West Pavilion Board Room (attendance 12)

 Tuesday, April 6, 2010 (11:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

CHILDCARE & PARENTAL LEAVE (facilitator DeDe Moore)

  • GME residents are contract employees and not entitled to UAB benefits. Maternity leave rules are specific to each of the specialties and are not governed by UAB. This is hard on the residents who, for all intents and purposes, are UAB employees. However, I think the GME contracts are standard nationwide. A later comment – UAB SOM has laid out their maternity leave policy specific to residents and fellows.
  • UAB daycare is full for ages 2 and under. Should we provide a listing of other area daycare facilities (with no implied endorsements of course!)?
  • Extension of tenure clock (for things like maternity leave) – should be AUTOMATIC rather than having to apply/request the extension. There is a stigma attached to the “asking” so it is usually note done.
  • TCHA offers transitional care, drop in care, and mildly ill car for children of employees. Why can’t UAB offer some options like these? This is especially important in cases where either parents work, or where the parent works odd shifts, etc.
  • Statement – the University does have the funds to expand the childcare center if they choose to do so.
  • Could the University provide an emergency nanny service?
  • NIH guidelines specify the use of grant funds for childcare in certain situations.
  • If University requires that you attend an after-hours meeting, the University should provide childcare.
  • MCV (Medical College of Virginia) – Their onsite childcare center operates from 5:00 am – 9:00 pm. Finally, two ladies – one a Fellow, one an Asst Professor – offered to be on and/or help direct a subcommittee related to the automatic extension of the tenure clock and the grant policies on child care reimbursement issues.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 (11:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

COMPENSATION (facilitator Ona Faye-Petersen)

The discussion actually moved to representation in negotiatios with upper level and staff whom faculty depend upon to do their work. They wanted sessions in negotiation to be included and to have access to resources for this. The salary issue of UAB/HSF disconnect was acknowledged so it is hard to get a real handle on just how much people are making, let alone men vs women in the same positions/rank. MDs and DOs are paid from two sources, and only the UAB component is available.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 (11:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

MENTORING AND RETENTION (facilitator Sylvia McAphee)

The conversation started by all of us going around the table and introducing ourselves. I gave an overview of what we hoped to accomplish with these series of open forums around campus.

There were 2 Nurse Coordinators at my table who gave us a good overview of some of the challenges they face at UAB. The first thing that they pointed out is that they would like to know how to get their nurses to buy into the opportunities of professional enrichment UAB has to offer nurses. How do they make the nurses motivated to take advantage of these opportunities? There are many opportunities for advancement, yet the nurses do not seem interested.

For example, they said that there are several 2 year degreed nurses and they would make excellent RNs. However, when they suggested that the nurses go back to school they indicated to them that they were not interested. Some attendees expressed to them that this response could be because of past treatment by other administrators. One attendee discussed how she had been treated over the years and basically said she “did her work and kept quiet” so she would not cause any trouble. Or, would not be perceived to as causing any trouble. She said that others in the past were terminated for making “waves”, so she learned to go with the flow.

The nurses also feel like they should not waste their time because some of them are retiring in a few years. Our attendees also stressed the point that nursing is a very stressful job and you work very long hours and by the time their shift is over, they are ready to just go home and go to bed. The nurses agreed that they will try to address this with the nurses and see if they can work past the mistrust and resentment from previous administrators and get the nurses to “buy in” to the future. There are wonderful incentives and opportunities at UAB, the coordinators just want to make sure the other nurses are aware of them and take full advantage of them.

It turns out that the nurses at our table come from other hospitals, so they know from experience how good UAB nurses have it here. There are opportunities to do research, present papers, obtain a degree, etc. The vacation benefits along are enough of a benefit to come to UAB and work as a nurse. There are also monetary incentives for presentations and conferences. The coordinators said that they will work on motivating the nurses and being positive role models for the other nurses.

We talked to ways to get away from negative or myth stereotypes or ideologies here on campus. The most popular response among the attendees was for people finding themselves in this type of mindset to surround yourself around positive, open-minded people. The people need to be well-rounded so that they can offer a more balanced perspective on life and career and can best give the type of feedback a mentee might need to make the best choices possible for their current position here at UAB. There are many initiatives that offer both faculty and staff growth and professional development and enrichment.

It was also voiced that UAB is very protective and if you come here from another hospital, you are often treated as an “outsider”. People do not want to spend their own money on professional memberships. They just don’t want to join organizations like they used to. One attendee felt that organizations simply do not offer the members anything for the amount of money they pay. Someone felt that the longer a person worked at UAB, the more negative their outlook about the university. By contrast, the shorter the time, the more positive the attitude and work prospects of the employee. There was also some concerns that UAB appears very segmented and UAB really, really, needs to get more connected to their employees. Most people are unaware of the many events and activities available. They are also very unaware of the services that the university supplies them. This needs to be addressed.

One participant who works in the labs felt that she did not know how to go about finding information on applying to nursing school. The ladies at the table let her know what they thought were her best options. It was unanimous that now that we have a woman president, the university looks and feels different than it did some years ago. This is a good step towards the right direction. Some women feel that men still get paid more than they do because of the “rule” that men have to take care of the household. But, what about the single mother who is also running a household for less money. This is in additional to the fact that they work side-by-side of each other.

The participants felt that there needs to be more mentoring and counseling across campus. It is not that these elements do not already exist, it is more of a matter of making sure that all sides of campus know about what is readily available to them at all times. The attendees felt that some decisions must come for upper management, “the top”.

We discussed retention and the nurses felt that retention was not a problem. Motivating and cultivating employees were. For others at the table, retention seems to be pretty stable at this time. Most people reported that because of the recession and economics, employees are very happy to have a job and looking forward to retiring from UAB.

Someone from a research lab on campus said that parent care is a very big topic in her area. She said that there needs to be more flexibility, especially for staff and non-faculty employees. She said they would love to see more options with leave and modified leave, besides FMLA options. Another attendee said she would like to see something done about the issue of having to take vacation to work in Haiti. She wanted to work there because several doctors invited her to go. However, since she went to Africa earlier this year, she was not able to participate.

Someone else mentioned more support of staff employees dealing with life situations.

The health side of campus attendees said that they did not hear about this event. We need to send these types of things to GroupWise. Placing flyers in every elevator, by every bathroom, works great as well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 (11:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

WORK/LIFE BALANCE (facilitator Valerie Gordon)

Morale is a big issue because of uncertainty with the economy and the changes in restructuring going on at UAB.

An employee satisfaction/climate survey would be very useful. The hospital does a good job of getting feedback from all levels of employees and then working to resolve patterns or issues that come up repeatedly and need addressing. ADVANCE also has a survey that works well. It would be very helpful for HR to do a survey of university employees to quantify and identify issues that need addressing. Although there are processes to deal with grievances, you want to address issues before they reach the level of a grievance.

Some institutions have a way for staff to have more of a voice and give input on leave, benefits and other concerns. Faculty has the Faculty Senate but university staff lacks a forum for being heard.

UAB needs to think about ways to improve morale and create a culture of trust and respect. Creating opportunities for different groups and levels of staff/administrators to build connections would be very helpful. UAB administrators have good rapport and communication with the Faculty Senate executive committee but this is not always visible to other faculty senators or the faculty at large. Anything that is done to improve communication will help with morale.

Flexible scheduling and working from home can really help with work/life balance and caring for sick children or other issues but there are often inequities in how it is allowed within departments and divisions. There are different constraints in different areas but other institutions are able to come up with policies that work – UAB should too.

Differences between scheduling for biweekly and monthly can cause tension but monthly staff should be allowed to work flexible schedules when it doesn’t adversely affect coverage or care in an area. This improves morale and loyalty of staff.

Current acute care clinic is too narrowly defined; patients who cannot get an appt with their primary care physician at TKC cannot be seen in the acute care clinic because its use is limited to patients of outlying clinics. They were not told about the option of seeing the nurse practitioner so they went outside of UAB for care which takes up valuable time and affects productivity.

To reach more hospital staff, publicize CSW events through the Monday Mailings. In order to have an impact, the Commission should make specific recommendations and include supporting data from the survey and other sources.

SESSION II – April 7, 2010 - Education Building Room 230 (attendance 18)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 (11:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

CHILDCARE AND PARENTAL LEAVE (facilitator Melanie Shores)

  • Discussed staff members having to use time for sick kids and then not having any time for themselves, etc.
  • Discussed donated time for parental leave and possible having a pool for donated days.
  • Discussed adoption and the fact that you can't take sick leave; you have to use vacation time.
  • Discussed the idea of having a clear policy for all that is easily accessible; overall, we felt that there needs to be a better line of communication regarding leave, etc.
  • Discussed creating/discussing "family friendly" atmosphere with departments/chairs, administration, etc. by discussing/educating people about the flexibility needed for employees with children.
  • Discussed that donation of days should be handled through Human Resources to make sure it is equitable.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 (11:30 - 1:00 p.m.)

COMPENSATION (facilitator Donna Scott)

Topics of Discussion:

  • What does "Representation" refer to on the flyer's bulleted item "Representation and Compensation?"
  • As a part-time employee, fringe benefit percentages are the same although employee does not benefit from all full-time benefits, i.e. TIAA, education assistance. This should also allow departments a savings on fringe, thus creating an incentive to hire part-time employees.
  • Severance packages are not equivalent to other large corporations. Is there a global "severance policy?" Is it different for faculty vs. staff and those funded by grants?
  • Why do we no longer receive Christmas Eve as a paid holiday?
  • Where and when will the survey results be posted?
  • Could the CSW provide a mentor session providing benefit advice?
  • Other comments and/or concerns: * Parking cost is too high, especially in non-core areas * There should be an ideal location for benefit information

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 (11:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

MENTORING AND RETENTION (facilitator Leslie Hendon)

  • Female students want to develop professional relationships with a more experienced female in their fields. (This relationship is NOT the “Mentor” relationship of Graduate student – Mentor, as in Professor X is my mentor for my Graduate program)
    • Female grad students feel that their graduate program mentors are too busy to nurture a positive and functional relationship that would eventually lead to being more prepared for work in their professions.
    • Female graduate students concurrently feel that male graduate student mentors (the traditional role of grad student – mentor) provide nurture to their male graduate students – there’s just an “in” that male – male relationships have that allows male graduate students to gain the skills needed to effectively compete for positions in the workplace after graduation.
      • Male employers and male graduate student mentors think to help their male employees and male graduate students with “career development” in both formal and informal ways

 

  • How would a department open the door to effective female mentorship?
    • It takes input from students as well as female and male faculty – communication.
    • Female grad students need to reach out to state their needs – to male and female faculty.
    • Female graduate students need something in place to help them succeed, something that nurtures the process (ex. Nursing and Teaching have student programs in place)
      • Through Nursing and Teaching programs, students have an opportunity to practice so that students gain confidence to become good.
    • The graduate program could provide a list of professionals with which to network
    • The graduate program could provide other resources to help build a foundation from which female graduate students could build sustainable relationships with experienced women
      • Suggestions
      • Brownbag lunches with women from all over campus. Informal brownbag lunches would be for women only.
      • Informal seminars for women to in your own field – opportunity to see how she made her life work (family, daily challenges, work, development)
      • Seminars led by a female professional – for men and women that would address the issues facing female graduate students / employees

 

  • How can female graduate students contribute to their own development? Mentor each other?
    • Encourage getting together outside class/research setting to share perspectives
    • The group is usually diverse, so lots of ideas are shared
    • In a formal or informal setting - work with other grad students who are not just like you.
    • Promote independence and confidence
    • Teach yourself to teach others – may learn something in a new way

 

  • What role would a Mentor play in the lives of female graduate students?
    • She does not supervise directly
    • She is not your mother
    • She is there as a sounding board for ideas – the student still has to figure out answers
    • A resource for skills, other professionals, “How did you do this when you were in school/faced this challenge/had to deal with a negative situation?”
    • Sometimes better for a mentor to lead by example, not an obvious “mentor” relationship
      • Ex. Seminars for women and men, led by women leaders at UAB. Female leaders could be from anywhere on campus – Academic, Administration, Maintenance, Facilities, etc… - not just PhDs in research
    • Someone with whom the student or employee feels comfortable sharing ideas
      • I want you to come to me with any questions or challenges you are facing (in a more defined role of “mentor”)
  • When you see people who develop positive professional relationships, success goes up for both Mentor and employee/graduate student
  • Mentor relationship takes time to establish and develop. Mentors could be an important part in female graduate student/employee retention
    • Females understand the need for flexibility and support each other in times of need
      • Children
      • Caring for parents
      • Life balance
      • How can I make things work since I am taking 20 hours / have a difficult work project?
  • Mentoring influences student/employee success and successful mentoring positively influences retention.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 (11:30 - 1:00 p.m.)

WORK/LIFE BALANCE (facilitator Annette Wright)

  • No separation between work and home
  • On call requirements for some departments including women with children – leads to difficult situations and decreases the number of employment opportunities for women in some areas.
  • Pressure to complete job tasks well.
  • Extreme stress exacerbates chronic health conditions for some employees
  • Family is very important and may live a distance from B’ham. Often times, there is not enough time to go and visit while trying to keep up with work responsibilities.
  • Proposal for working hours and conditions?
  • Learning to say NO
  • Caring for elderly parents

SESSION III - April 6, 2010 - Bartow Arena, Green & Gold Room (attendance 6)

Thursday, April 8, 2010 (7:30 – 9:00 a.m.)

ALL TOPICS (facilitator Betty Farley)

  • Options due to geographically or responsibly limited restricts negotiations
  • No raises make it hard to motivate staff – causes pervasive moral issues
    • Need creative ways to motivate staff (ex: time off, public recognition, luncheons)
    • No raise unless you have a competitive job offer – then raises can be found
    • Not utilizing the 2 discretionary holidays was a lot opportunity to boost morale
    • Good benefits help to balance the year(s) with no pay raises
    • Look at variable benefit packages (i.e., hospital vs. campus needs?)
  • Male environment (“good old boys”) is alive and well
  • Ageism is practiced on the campus

CHILD CARE / PARENTAL LEAVE

  • Very long waiting list for child care
    • With more than one child, it is unlikely you will get both in
  • On campus is desirable for some and could decrease travel time which would decrease child care costs
  • The size of the campus is not reflected in the size of the child care facility
    • Need larger facility / second facility or subsidies for child care
  • Elder care is a growing issue to be addressed

MENTORING / RETENTION

  • Who is helping the post-doc?
    • If geographically or family restricted, there are barriers / impediment to career
  • Is the commission receiving information to direct mentoring?
    • Survey not just faculty, but students and staff
  • The Recognition of Mentors is in its second year
    • Need other programs?

WORK / LIFE BALANCE

  • Can be an impediment to career when trying to balance career and family/personal issues
  • Develop workshops/meetings to share experiences?
  • Flex time is important to that work / life balance

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Has a Staff Senate been considered?
    • There is no development for staff
  • “Shared governance” is a value of the Strategic Plan, but the terminology is not used in documents
  • Faculty development opportunities are there, but many cannot participate
  • Barriers are there from past practices that we need to get beyond
    • Plays into the low morale
  • Campus involvement for faculty and staff – sometimes cannot get release time
    • Faculty are encouraged, but it is not a reality
    • P&T is a critical time period greatly restricted
      • There is a level in the promotion process to encourage service to UAB
  • The dependent survey resulted in many disgruntled employees
    • Raised concerns of a contracted entity receiving extremely confidential information
    • Cause difficulties for some to locate/replace records/documents
    • Should have been communicate better – an advance letter of preparation
      • Communication (lack of) to all employees on the campus is a big issue
  • Why is the hospital not represented on CSW?
    • UAB policies affect hospital employees.
    • Can some administrative policies be separated between the hospital and the campus?

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