Fry backs staff growth

Penn is interested in helping Penn staff advance their careers and cope with the demands of home, work and family, according to Executive Vice President John Fry.

Fry and Office of Human Resources staff delivered the news in an information session Feb. 27 that attracted an overflow crowd to the Chemistry Building's main lecture hall. The A-3 and Penn Professional Staff assemblies jointly sponsored the session.

In his opening remarks, Fry noted that cost pressures on universities make developing and recognizing a highly capable workforce more important. "We need people who feel they are well-compensated, well-treated, vested in professionally and cared about personally," he said. "I know that we have a long way to go, and I am also resolved to get there."

Annie McKee, director of management development, told the audience that staffers expressed deep concern over professional growth, and that new career-development processes focusing on "the kinds of things that allow people to be effective no matter what kind of job they are in" will be developed with staff input.

McKee said that the details of the new system are still being worked out with guidance from administrators and staff. She also added that for it to succeed, more Penn managers need to support staff development.

Vice President for Human Resources Jack Heuer spoke about efforts to improve the quality of work life for Penn staff. For starters, Penn's current child-care referral program will soon include advising and an elder care component, and programs focusing on employee health matters will also be added.

Human Resources also plans to implement flexible work hours at Penn, which would allow staff to adjust their work schedules to meet their off-the-job needs.

Other projects in the works include improvements in medical, pension and long-term care benefits, and a reorganization of the current two-tiered position-grading system into a single, unified list, Heuer said.

During the question-and-answer portion of the session, several A-3 staffers asked if the University would allow them to choose between the current Retirement Allowance Plan for hourly staff and the tax-deferred savings plans for salaried staff. Heuer replied that the question would be explored in the future.

Originally published on March 19, 1998