The Work/Life Portal: An Innovative Navigation Tool for Faculty Benefits & Policies 

Presented at the 2014 Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Faculty Affairs Professional Development Conference, 17-20 July 2014, Boston, MA


Short Description

Work life benefits and policies of large, complex academic medical centers can be challenging for faculty to navigate. In partnership with our school of art and design, we created a two-phase plan to develop a web-based solution to clearly convey this complex information. The new portal uses a natural language user interface, where a faculty member types in a question or idea (e.g. “I’m having a baby”) and a series of policies is returned, associated with keywords within the question. The new portal uses a simple, intuitive interface that allows faculty affairs office staff to assign word tags to policies/benefits that may appear in the user’s questions. A free online tool (http://wordpress.org) was used to create the portal.


Abstract

Project

Benefits and policies of large academic medical centers can be challenging for faculty to navigate. A recent survey of faculty at our institution reported large gaps in their knowledge about and use of benefits and policies related to career flexibility. For example, nearly half of our faculty didn’t know about clock stoppage policies and expressed concern about how polices were communicated. Thus, the goal of this project was to develop a web-based solution to clearly convey work life benefits and policies.

Methods

In partnership with our school of art and design, a two-phase project was developed to design a new web portal for benefits/policies. In phase one, we conducted qualitative, usability testing of current web and print resources with the goal of further explaining the survey results. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with new and veteran faculty, as well as campus HR staff. They reviewed the current resources; provided feedback on what was unclear or hard to find; and finished by drawing their “dream website.”

 Results

In phase two, the team used the design-thinking methodology to develop a prototype of the website. After systematically testing ideas, the team settled on a modified natural language user interface, where a faculty member types in a question or idea (e.g. “I’m having a baby”) and a series of policies is returned, associated with keywords within the question. The simple design of the interface allows faculty affairs office staff to assign word tags to policies/benefits that may appear in the user’s questions. A free online tool (http://wordpress.org) was used to create the portal.

Conclusion

The new portal allows our institution to create a clear online presence for work life benefits and policies, demonstrating our institutional commitment to supporting faculty.  At the same time, the program uses resources efficiently.  The only expenses incurred have been faculty and staff time to conduct the study and develop the portal. 

Implications

While the portal is still in development, it demonstrates a promising shift in how faculty affairs offices can collaborate with faculty and internal partners. By designing and testing ideas with faculty and HR professionals, we created buy-in for the project early on. These individuals have the potential to become early adopters of the new portal, sharing their positive experiences with others.

Materials

Presentation Slide Deck (3.9 MB PDF)