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Published in CenterView on March 17, 2014

Employees show strong response to discount program

By Bruce Coleman

Response to last month’s rollout of Youpon, an employee discount program now being offered through the University of Mississippi Medical Center, so exceeded the expectations of Human Resources staff that those most responsible for bringing the online initiative to life want to make sure UMMC employees are well aware of all the discounts available to them.

Shortly after the email from Michael Estes, chief human resources officer, announcing the Youpon program was distributed campus-wide Feb. 19, the site that handles online registration for the service was flooded with more than 1,000 registrations.  Three weeks later, total registrations numbered 2,744.

According to Michael Paul of Fortibus, the third-party vendor that manages Youpon, many of those who applied online for credentials to start using the program failed to receive the necessary confirmation email because the automatic registration system had been overwhelmed.

“We went ahead and registered them anyway, whether they received the confirmation email or not,” Paul said. “They are able to use the site by entering their password.”

After quickly browsing through the Youpon site (at, it’s easy to see what caused all the fuss. The site offers discounts from local and national merchants in a number of categories, from apartments and automobile dealerships to spas and theme parks, and almost anything in between.

In all, the site offers deals from 39 metro area businesses and 90 national firms.

Jynger Morris, human resources benefits manager, said employee response to the Youpon offer couldn’t have been more pleasing to the HR staff.

“I think we were all shocked at the immediacy of the response,” Morris said. “We knew there would be a wide variety of vendors, but the response was so fast that Fortibus was as surprised as we were.

“It’s very exciting to see it come to life.”

Yet many Youpon newcomers may be surprised to learn that it isn’t the only source for information about discounted services offered to employees of the state’s only academic health sciences center. And it’s far from being the first.

Morris said Human Resources provides a list of available discount offers for UMMC staff on its website listed under Benefits. In fact, she said a robust discount program has been a major initiative of her department for some time.

“One of the things we want to focus on in Human Resources is the proper work-life balance and wellness for all of our employees,” she said. “The discount program is something we could do to bring a lot of value to our employees.”

Morris said she encourages employees to check in with Youpon and the HR benefits site regularly.

“We will continue to reach out to potential new vendors to join our benefits program, and existing vendors will modify their discounts,” she said. “I think there will be more offers to come, and there will be specials, too.
“Anything that we can do to help employees know that they’re valued, they’re important, that we recognize how hard they work, and to give a little bit of that value back, that’s the purpose of what we do in HR.”

For more information about Youpon, including instructions on how to sign up for the service, visit

  • Among the many “employee perks” listed on the Human Resources website are:

    Medical Center employees may be eligible to receive a percentage off of their cell phone rates if they are new or existing customers of AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. Employees should contact their respective vendors for more information on these discounts.

    UMMC employees may receive  a licensed copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, which includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Outlook 2010, OneNote 2010, SharePoint Workspace, Access 2010, Publisher 2010 and InfoPath 2010, for only $9.95.

    Participating Courthouse and YMCA fitness centers – strategic partners in the institution’s wellness focus – offer membership discounts to UMMC employees. “We really value their partnership,” Morris said, “and these discounts are in line with institutional goals of improving the health of our work force.”

    Other benefits for which Medical Center employees may be eligible include automobile discounts; Dell computer discounts; house buyer assistance in the City of Jackson; health-care, pharmacy and tuition benefits; tax preparation discounts; and many other offers.