Staff Excellence Awarded

August 11, 2001

Nick Marinello
Phone: (504) 865-5714

In the work world, nothing says "good job" quite like cash. At least that's the conclusion of a committee formed to develop a non-salary award for outstanding performance by Tulane staff employees.

"Initially the committee was considering ways to reward achievement that would involve some kind of giveaway of small gifts," says Barbara Brauner, director of employment and compensation and committee co-chair.

At some point, however, the group realized that "the only thing that would really mean anything was money," she says. After conferring with peer institutions, committee members learned that cash was a commonly used incentive. They submitted a plan to Yvette Jones, senior vice president of planning and administration, which recommended giving out 30 $1,000 awards each year.

"We felt that 30 represented one percent of the workforce," said Brauner. Jones took the plan to the Presidents Cabinet, which approved it after reducing the number of annual awards to 10. "We knew the award had to be something significant," said Jones. "But we wanted to start off slowly, so we kept the award at $1,000, and reduced the number to 10."

Jones adds that the $1,000 reflects an "after-tax" figure. "The actual award will be somewhat more than that so that recipients receive a net $1,000 amount." The ten recipients also will be honored at a dinner with President Scott and Marjorie Cowen in their home at Two Audubon Place. According to the committees plan, which is entitled Tulane Excellence Awards Program, candidates for the award must be full-time employees nominated by their peers or supervisors.

As of mid-July, Jones had more than 10 nominations in hand. The deadline for nominations was Aug. 1. The form sent out to all staff in June identified four criteria to be used in nominations: increased productivity, cost savings, enhanced objectives and humanitarian.

"We established these criteria so that it would be inclusive of everyone," says Brauner. "Not everyone can develop or improve a process or increase the productivity of a division. But a person can increase his or her own productivity."

Jones agrees that the criteria should allow nominations from a cross section of staff. She believes the "humanitarian" criterion is particularly important. "It speaks to good citizenship," she says. "This targets people who really make a difference to those they touch, even though they may have a job on the periphery of the universitys mission."

Jones notes that the committees work was a direct outgrowth of the strategic plan, which designates personnel issues as its No. 1 priority.

"In the people section of the strategic plan there is a discussion about non-salary incentives for staff and faculty," says Jones. "These awards are similar to those that we give to faculty during commencement in that it is a monetary award and you are nominated by your peers or supervisors."

President Scott Cowen agrees. "The awards program is a wonderful idea conceived by the staff," says Cowen. "It is very consistent with our plan as a way to recognize and reward staff members who go above and beyond in their activities on behalf of the university."

All nominations will be initially reviewed Jones and Andy Heck, vice president of human resources, in collaboration with the committee. Jones expects to announce the recipients of the awards in September. While that will end the committees work on this program, Jones says the committee will be available to explore similar programs.

"I think this is just the beginning of many programs like this," she says.

The committee was co-chaired by Carol Jouet from human resources. Members included Robert Barrera, environmental health sciences; Flozell Daniels, government affairs; Kristin Flierl, law school; Terry Miller, financial services; Cathy Mines, institutional advancement; Gayle Morgan, primate center; Christine OConnor, medicine; TroyLynne Perrault, annual fund; Jackie Phillips, financial services; and Jannie Price, ecology and evolutionary biology.

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