YourYale sat down with Head of Total Rewards Bruce Monte ’85 before the university’s Annual Benefits Enrollment period (November 27 – December 8) to discuss benefits at Yale and his tips for maximizing the enrollment period. This Q&A has been lightly edited and condensed.
What does Yale mean when it talks about “total rewards”?
“Total rewards” means a lot more than competitive pay. It also refers to a broad portfolio combining traditional and innovative benefits that should offer something for everyone in the Yale community.
“Total rewards” includes the combination of traditional and unique benefit programs that the university offers, ranging from the Child Scholarship and New Haven Homebuyer programs to the familiar benefits like medical, dental, and vision care. The term also includes the dedicated and passionate providers at Yale Health and Yale Medicine and the more innovative point solutions like Progyny for fertility assistance and Hinge Health for faculty and staff with musculoskeletal issues such as a bad back or a pulled muscle.
What are you and your team responsible for?
I report to Vice President of Human Resources John Whelan. I’m fortunate enough to lead a great team of people who work on everything from staff compensation to the benefit programs that cover all faculty and staff members.
Our team is also responsible for programs for leaves of absence and accommodations. There are accommodations for personal medical issues or for those who may need a temporary accommodation to help them return to work after a job-related injury. My team of nearly 20 people oversees all those programs. A lot of this is done through a combination of university partners such as Yale Health and our network of outside vendors like TIAA, which administers and invests our retirement savings plans, or Aetna, which administers medical benefits for those who are not members of the Yale Health plan.
How do Yale’s staff benefits compare to the benefits at other universities?
It’s important to make sure that Yale can attract a talented and diverse workforce who can support the mission of the university, which is the ultimate objective of our total rewards program.
We want to ensure that our programs are competitive with those institutions with which we compete for talent. We periodically benchmark our benefit programs against a group of top-tier universities which we refer to as the Ivy Plus. It’s the eight Ivy League universities and schools like Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, New York University, and Stanford. The last time we updated our benchmarking was in 2022, and we found that the value of the benefits that Yale provides continues to exceed the average for that group.
What are some benefits staff might not know about?
We introduced Progyny and Hinge Health just this year, and some staff members may not have experience with them yet.
I’m not sure that the Yale community is fully aware of the benefits from our employee assistance program, being rebranded as Emotional Wellbeing Solutions, which is available for them and their families. Considering the current national mental health crisis, it’s important to know that those resources are available 24/7 for our employees, their spouses, and their children, whether or not they are enrolled in a university medical plan.
I would also say, don’t miss the Yale Advantages benefits because there are a wide variety of offers that can add up to significant savings over time — ranging from group home, auto, and renter’s insurance, to pet insurance, to discounts on purchases of appliances and technology.
Do you have specific goals for Yale Total Rewards?
John Whelan and his leadership team in Human Resources have identified three strategic priorities: attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce; improve the HR user experience; and operate as one HR function. In alignment with this, my team and I want to enhance the focus on every interaction that staff and faculty have with Yale’s compensation and benefit programs. This is important to all of us, as we evaluate our programs and the way in which we administer them so that they position us to deliver on attracting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce.
Another objective is strengthening our relationship with Yale Health because it is such an incredible resource located right here on campus. Through Yale Health, patients can access some of the most cutting-edge medical research and resources available.
What actions are important to take during annual enrollment?
As a former engineer, I understand the powerful effects of inertia. It’s easy to simply sign up for next year based on what you had this year. But I think it’s important to think about changes in your or your family’s circumstances. Perhaps you’ve moved. Perhaps you’ve had a child. Maybe you’ve been married or divorced. Life events can affect the way that you take advantage of our programs, so be thoughtful and take the time to go through each of the benefit offerings to make sure that what you’re choosing is right for you today, not what was right for you seven years ago.
Also, please be aware of the ways in which our programs may have changed. There might not be a change in your circumstances, but there might be a new offering or a change in the design of the programs that we offer that could suggest that a different choice might be right for you. Alex, our Virtual Benefits Counselor, is standing by to help you make the best enrollment decisions for yourself and your family.
Finally, please visit the Virtual Benefit Fair. You’ll have a chance to review a variety of presentations from our partners about how our benefit programs operate as well as what’s changing for 2024. And sign up for text messages to get reminders so you don’t miss important deadlines!
The Annual Benefits Enrollment period for 2024 runs from November 27 through December 8. This is your chance to customize your medical, dental, vision, flexible spending accounts, and voluntary benefit elections according to your needs. Visit the Virtual Benefits Fair 2024 for information from our provider partners.