Overview of University Benefits

Benefits Philosophy Statement and Guiding Principles

Benefits are essential in the recruitment, retention, and engagement of the talented and diverse faculty and staff members needed to serve University of Puget Sound students.  To carry out Puget Sound’s mission and values and advance the university’s strategic plan, the university’s benefits program for faculty and staff members must necessarily reflect the finite resources available for benefits and the competitive environment in which the university operates.  The benefits program is, therefore, guided by the following principles:

  • To structure benefits, as well as benefits costs that are shared between the faculty or staff member and the university, in a way that allows the university to provide the greatest benefits to the faculty and staff community as a whole even as we recognize that there are significant differences in our individual family life circumstances and economic resources
  • To remain open to adjusting benefit priorities in response to changes in the university’s financial position, faculty and staff members’ interests and needs, the competitive market for faculty and staff members, or the external benefits landscape (e.g., changes in the benefits marketplace or in applicable laws and regulations) 
  • To offer meaningful and flexible choices that meet the changing needs of our diverse community of faculty and staff members with prudent default enrollment options for faculty and staff members who do not make timely choices about benefits programs for which they are eligible
  • To provide a core set of benefits that includes health care benefits, a retirement savings plan, and education benefits, understanding that economic and regulatory realities may mandate adjustments even to core benefits
  • To support the health and well-being of faculty and staff members, encouraging preventive care and providing opportunities to foster wellness
  • To structure insurance programs in a way that pools a large portion of individual risk, allowing Puget Sound and faculty and staff members collectively to purchase coverage at economical rates
  • To protect against catastrophic expenses or income interruptions for faculty and staff members  (e.g., in the form of paid leave benefits, disability insurance coverage, life and accidental death insurance coverage)
  • To incorporate, to the extent provided by law and cost-effective, tax-preferred benefit structures that allow faculty and staff members to save or defer taxes
  • To continuously put into practice sound financial management, fiscal responsibility, regulatory compliance, sustainability and administrative efficiency
  • To take advantage of the resources that Puget Sound is uniquely able to provide as a campus-based higher education institution (e.g., education opportunities, facilities use, subject-matter experts on the faculty and staff), thereby contributing to a positive work environment and culture
  • To recognize that benefits education and planning is a responsibility that is shared by the university and faculty and staff members--that we are responsible for informing ourselves about and remaining informed about university benefits and the choices available to us

Benefits Program Assessment

Human Resources monitors and assesses Puget Sound’s benefits in an ongoing way, and recommends and implements minor refinements and annual renewal of existing benefits within the available benefits budget.  These budget-neutral refinements to existing benefits are approved by the Vice President for Finance and Administration in consultation with the President and his/her Cabinet. Periodically, a deeper holistic review of the benefits program is performed by a task force of faculty and staff, chaired by Human Resources, charged to evaluate the benefits program and recommend any changes for consideration by the President and his/her Cabinet. Any recommended changes must be cost-neutral and any significant new benefit requires Board of Trustee approval. This work is guided by the university’s Benefits Philosophy.

The holistic review process is complex and typically takes several months to a few years due to the strategic importance, intricacies, and sensitivity of benefits. The timing of the periodic holistic review is typically every five to eight years to allow reasonable stability in the benefits program and sufficient time to implement and assess any approved changes. The frequency of the review process is influenced by strategic priorities and competitive, regulatory, financial, and other factors.  In between holistic reviews, individuals or campus groups may express to Human Resources an interest in a new or enriched benefit and these interests will be considered when the next ad hoc benefits task force is charged to perform a holistic review. 

Ad hoc Benefits Task Force schedule:

  • Next charge is estimated for 2016 or 2017
  • Charged in 2009, work completed in 2011 and 2012
  • Charged in 2000, work completed in 2001