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Letter from President Huddleston RE: Forthcoming Benefits Survey

December 1, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

In a few days, you will receive an e-mail asking you to participate in a Benefits and Compensation Preferences survey, one that asks how you value various elements of your USNH benefits and compensation package. I am writing to provide background about the survey and encourage you to join me in participating.

This past year, the USNH Board of Trustees identified health care costs as a large and growing expenditure within the overall USNH budget, one that threatens to crowd out other important priorities. Over the past 10 years, health care costs have more than doubled, with both our institutions and employees bearing ever-higher costs.  As a first step in trying to control these costs, last year the board commissioned an independent study to find out how USNH employees’ compensation and benefits programs compare with those of other organizations. After reviewing the findings of that study (The Mercer Report) with the System Personnel Policy Council and Human Resources directors, the trustees established a board subcommittee to consider how to manage total compensation expenses.

To aid the subcommittee in its work, the board has hired another national consultant, Towers Watson, to develop and administer a survey that invites employees to express their preferences for various benefits and compensation programs. The survey will ask each individual to make hard choices about what they consider most important. I urge you to complete the survey so that the board obtains accurate information from us about the benefits and compensation elements we most value. Towers Watson will both conduct the survey and analyze the data to assure confidentiality for all respondents. The board will use these findings to help shape recommendations about compensation and benefits program design.

While the survey has been structured with various prompts that propose benefit “cuts” and “enhancements,” these are just to measure what types of changes are most likely to fit our culture. Neither the board nor I have any preconceived notion of the outcomes of this study. Nor have any changes to compensation or benefits been predetermined. Your participation will assist in the board getting critical information from employees about how to design offerings that best match our values. I am pleased that the board is requesting our input, providing an avenue for each employee to have a voice about this most important matter.

We will ensure that supervisors allow time during the workday for employees to complete the survey. Computers will be available to employees who do not normally have access to a computer, and/or those who need assistance completing the survey, Dec. 8 and 10 in Kingsbury N134 classroom from 7 a.m. - noon and Dec 14 and 15 in MUB classroom #14 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Thank you for participating in this important survey.

Mark W. Huddleston

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