New HR site focuses on communication

April 26, 2001

Suzanne Johnson

Have you ever had a question about university policy or benefits, or something as simple as how to change the home address on your employment records, but weren't sure who to call or how to quickly find the answers you need?

The clearinghouse for most of those types of questions is the Office of Human Resources, notes Frank Currie, director of employee relations and staff development. But with 20 staff members to handle all the needs of Tulane's 5,600 employees, human resources often has found itself in emergency-handling mode.

A new human resources Web site unveiled in early April is geared toward making it easier for employees to get quick solutions to more common questions and problems. In developing the site, Currie says, the office "focused on the three C's, communication, communication and communication."

"We wanted people to be able to go onto the site and quickly find the answers to their questions, whether it's what jobs are open, or when they can start an IRA, or what the classification of a certain job is," he notes.

Visitors to the site, which was designed by Bryan Snow of Tulane's Computer Training Center, are immediately given a number of options for quick information. A link to available positions offers quick entrie to the job listings. A frequently asked questions link provides a list of the 10 questions human resources staff get asked most often,along with the answers, of course. Other quick links provide shortcuts to a campus map and the online phone directory.

The overall site, Currie says, is organized into the same categories as the Office of Human Resources itself: compensation, employment, benefits, and policies and procedures.

"These are the four major components of human resources, and they provide logical divisions for the site," Currie says.

In addition to the quick links, site visitors will encounter seven major areas where they can go for additional information. An HR staff directory lists the members of the human resources staff along with titles and contact information. A forms and documents section provides, as its name implies, copies of policy and procedure documents, as well as forms for everything from address changes to medical plan enrollment.

A calendar section lists the current year's holiday schedule and links to university calendar information. The benefits area offers descriptions of the various benefits to Tulane employees, organized by faculty and staff designation. A new hire orientation section provides not only information on orientation sessions but a handy online "tour" of such areas as campus dining facilities, public safety, computing, the credit union, and bookstore.

An administrative procedures section outlines such areas as travel programs, parking requirements, hiring procedures and employee evaluations. A link to the Center for Workforce Effectiveness provides a comprehensive listing of available employee enrichment courses, organized by month. One upgrade in which people have been most excited, Currie notes, is the online availability of forms.

Among the many forms available are the payroll/personnel information form, the recruitment procedures form for faculty appointments, the payroll action form, the forms related to annual employee performance review, and enrollment cards for the flexible spending account and medical enrollment.

"We're working on making all the forms accessible," Currie says, noting that one exception to the available forms is the one needed to sign up for tuition waivers. "We're redesigning that form, but one of the problems with it is that it still requires a real signature," Currie says.

While "electronic signatures" are acceptable on most forms, the tuition waiver form holds tax implications and requires a physical signature. Still, Currie notes, reaction to the new Web site has been overwhelmingly positive and marks a vast improvement over the previous site. "We're like that old Tulane coaster that says, 'We've come a long way,'" he says.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000