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New High-Tech Faculty Orientation Offers Personalized, Convenient Service

Online resources allow faculty to have personalized human-resources orientation whenever they want.

Date: 9/14/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Deb Rieselman
Phone: (513) 556-5225

UC ingot   Beginning Sept. 1, new faculty hired at the University of Cincinnati have the ability to participate, at their own convenience, in an employee orientation through the Human Resources Department’s new online program designed specifically for them. Previously, faculty were only offered a single chance to attend an annual faculty orientation, or they could attend a general UC staff orientation conducted every Monday.

Because faculty scheduling conflicts often prohibited their participation in the Monday-only event, HR staff compiled numerous resources that faculty could access in one location through Blackboard, [] “a medium they will be using all the time anyway,” said Deborah deGroot-Osswald, director of the Human Resources Service Center.

“We felt that faculty needed a more formal option like other employees receive. It was a matter of filling a need.”

Newly hired, benefits-eligible faculty are automatically enrolled in the online New Hire Faculty Orientation, which offers step-by-step instructions, PowerPoint presentations and short videos in which a professional from the HR department explain the main features of their benefits. Orientation topics deal with the university culture, discounts, policies, logging in to the Employee Self Service feature, updating personal information and tax exemptions, completing the required Outside Activity Report and how to enroll in specific benefits, including health, dental, life insurance, long-term disability and flexible spending accounts.

“They can do it at their leisure,” said deGroot-Osswald. “There will be all kinds of components. They can spend a lot of time with this and drill down as deep as they want to, or they can just touch the surface.”

Although orientation for new UC staff members is mandatory, the faculty program is optional. Whenever the need occurs, however, arrangements can be made for a faculty member to meet an HR professional one-on-one, deGroot-Osswald added.

Faculty who participate in the orientation will be asked to complete a short survey afterward so the university can improve the process in the future.

“The online New Hire Faculty Orientation completes the second phase of UC’s commitment toward ensuring that new employees receive the same valuable information related to employment with the University of Cincinnati,” said Theresa Murphy, also a director of the Human Resources Service Center.

The first phase took place July 1, 2009, when a standardized “Onboarding” process was launched for all non-faculty employees. That process includes the establishment of Mondays as mandatory start dates and mandatory in-person attendance at an orientation for hired or rehired staff.

To access the online orientation, new faculty can use their central employee login. HR staff will also be available to assist faculty at the New Faculty Orientation, sponsored by the Provost’s Office on Sept. 16 and 17 in the Lindner Athletic Center.

The provost’s orientation should not be confused with HR’s online version. The provost’s event, expanded to two days for the first time this year, deals with issues beyond HR, including best practices, grant-writing strategies and instructional technology.