VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, August 31, 2018

Five Questions

Good morning!  Happy Friday, happy Labor Day weekend and happy third payday of the month!

It’s the last Friday of the month so today I’ll answer some of your questions.  I read all the questions and comments you send me and appreciate all of them.  I’m only able to respond to a few of them in VC Notes, but I pass the rest on to the appropriate people for review and possible action.

Now, on to your questions. 

Q:  Please consider: In the morning, there’s a huge influx of peak time traffic, backing up clear out of sight. Suspected reason: folks coming to UMMC, St. Dominic and elsewhere on Lakeland Drive.  Contributing factors: three traffic lights within three hundred yards that apparently are not working together and don’t change their timing to handle the inflow. These lights should strongly favor incoming during this peak time by staying green longer, much longer. The solution may require a collaborative effort involving UMMC, St. D. and traffic flow engineering. Maybe even offsetting the start times of some groups. Can this be added to the list of things to fix? Many will much appreciate an improvement.

A:  I understand and am occasionally in that back up as well. Having synchronized traffic lights on Lakeland Drive and elsewhere that automatically adjust to accommodate rush hour traffic flows would be nice.  We approached the city on that topic when The Meridian apartments were under construction a few years ago.   Because of the age of some of the lights as well as the cost of a synchronization system, this would be an expensive undertaking when the city already is faced with critical infrastructure issues. But we will make sure to keep it in front of them when and if resources become available.

Q:  I wanted to know why some employees have to pay to park at some clinics and some don't. Paying $60 dollars a month is expensive. Will we ever be able to park without paying?

A:  I checked with our Parking folks and, as a general rule, employees at clinics that are distant from the main campus are not charged for parking.  On campus, employees are charged a parking fee.  There are also cases where employees pay for a primary parking assignment – say in Garage C – but have short-term parking privileges at a clinic on or near campus where they see patients.  Unfortunately, the days of free parking on campus are over.  Our intent, however, is to continue to have free parking at the stadium.          

Q:  Regarding the recent Employee Engagement Survey:  I'm basic research faculty. Neither I, nor any of my departmental colleagues, received the EES. We looked. Our admins looked, nothing.  Anyway, something to be aware of on y'all's end.

A:  Our intention was that faculty would not be surveyed during this cycle of the Employee Engagement Survey.  The reason is that all faculty will be surveyed during October (exact dates to be determined) using the Standpoint tool, formerly known as Faculty Forward, developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges.  Standpoint is better tailored to the concerns of faculty members, and our relatively long history of participation gives us a rich reservoir of comparative data.  We also did not want to ask faculty to complete two similar surveys, out of respect for their time.  However, not all clinical faculty got the message that they were to do the Culture of Safety/Quality Survey and did not need to do the EES.  We are grateful for all the input we received on the EES from every participant, regardless of their role, but we will try to be clearer next time about who needs to complete which survey.  In the meantime, faculty, please be on the lookout for details about the Standpoint Survey coming later this fall.   

Q:  I have a concern about transferring to a different department. I know UMMC is supportive of employees having opportunities for career development.  What I do not understand is how your supervisor can stop you from transferring.  I feel if I am past my three months probationary period, then it should not be problem. I also feel you should not just transfer every three months when you think about it. I would just like to know what the protocol is when trying to transfer.

A:  UMMC encourages employees to advance in status and position through internal promotions and transfers to positions of greater responsibility or new challenges.  Regular full- or part-time employees should satisfactorily complete 90 days in their current positions before seeking a promotion/transfer, except when such action is for the convenience of the Medical Center. If after 90 days an employee is interested in pursuing a different opportunity at UMMC, the employee is encouraged to look for opportunities on the UMMC careers website and apply.  A supervisor isn't in a position to "stop you from transferring," but is in a position to provide feedback when asked about an employee's performance.  If employees have a specific question about how the process is working for them, they can speak with their HR Business Partner.

Q:   Once I watched a program on the U.S. economy from the 1930s up through recent times, and they talked about the devaluing of the dollar, pointing out that in the ‘30s a carpenter’s salary could support a family of eight and comparing that to recent times. One thing that I personally have felt is the continual squeeze of rising costs, especially associated with raising and educating kids.  In these times, it's good to have stable employment.  One thing I personally have felt is a struggle as years go by, the cost of living goes up, up, and sometimes our salaries don't rise at the same rate as the cost of living.  For instance, according to a reputable cost of living calculator, in the last eight years the cost of living has increased by over 14 percent.  But for me, and I'm sure many others, my salary has increased only three percent.  This can wear on a person's morale after a while; one may begin to feel forgotten.  I understand costs have risen for hospitals as well.  I'd like to request that cost-of-living increases be given more prominent consideration when giving periodic salary adjustments.  For standard job titles, like nursing, market adjustment may be the best way to keep current, but for non-standard roles, such as many other roles here, market analysis, which relies heavily on a person's title, may not be the best method to use.  But cost of living increases would be more appropriate.

A:  As you indicate, UMMC does not employ a cost-of-living model for compensation.  However, recognizing that we are in need of base salary adjustments in some cases, we are currently conducting a market review of our compensation for positions across all three mission areas of UMMC.  The information we learn from this review will help us to understand where we have areas of opportunity to compensate through a more market-competitive approach. That said, business decisions will then have to be made for each area of opportunity, because the potential cost of market increases will likely exceed UMMC's ability to fund it in the first year.  Therefore, we will develop a multi-year strategy to reach market competitive compensation on average across the entire institution. Every effort will be made to get us there in as short a time as possible. In the meantime, we will also be developing a plan for a merit-based increase system, to be implemented once UMMC has reached a market competitive compensation on average across the entire institution. Bottom line, we want all of our employees to feel that our compensation system is fair, current, equitably applied and an accurate reflection of the value an employee brings to the organization.

Thank you again for all your submissions to VC Notes.  It tells me that you care, and it provides me and others with a valuable opportunity to improve in important ways, as we all strive for A Healthier Mississippi.

Follow me on Twitter