Pursuit of Excellence Transcends Science at Jefferson Lab, Can Be Found in Human Resources
If any one of the roughly 720 full-time employees of Jefferson Lab wants to know how to save for a 401(k) retirement plan, they can ask Treva Ferguson. Ferguson, a Human Resources benefits consultant, can also tell them everything they need to know about medical, dental, life, disability and vision insurance accounts provided by the lab, among other benefits-related topics.
For most of the questions employees ask, Ferguson has the answers at the top of her head. On the rare occasion a question stumps her, she knows which resource to consult and tracks down the answer. Ferguson credits her 20 years of experience in the human resources field for her breadth of knowledge. Yet, she also admits that a large part of her ability to help employees with their questions is that she finds tremendous joy in her work. “It’s very rewarding,” Ferguson says. “I get energized when I help a person and I’m passionate about what I do.”
Understanding the Whole Person
Much in the same way many of the scientists at the lab are passionate about understanding whole qualities of an atom, Ferguson is passionate about understanding the whole person doing the nuclear research. “Human Resources is about looking at the whole human picture,” she says. She is often one of the first to know when an employee is getting married, having a baby or making another significant life change.
“A lot of employees know who I am,” Ferguson says. “Employees can walk into my office at any time and sit down with me. A lot of my foot traffic is people that are going out on a leave of absence or maybe someone wants to add a new wife or baby to their insurance. I know the insurance plans and can help employees pick the one that best suits their changing situation.”
Ferguson also provides HR guidance and interpretation to new employees and managers who may be starting the new employee onboarding process or who may have a question about a particular policy.
Keeping Up with Change
In order to provide the best possible benefit options to employees, Ferguson works with brokers and vendors annually to review and modify plans the lab provides. Many of these vendors have had relationships with the lab that predate Ferguson’s tenure. “When different regulations come out, we have to assess the impact to our workforce and balance this against a myriad of other considerations,” Ferguson explains. “Then I need to notify employees.”
Ferguson’s key to successfully keeping employees informed about their benefits through all of their life changes is communication. For that, she has a multi-channel strategy: Ferguson is involved with drafting all-staff emails sent from the HR department, messages posted on the electronic information screens across the lab, and letters sent to a home address helping to educate employees on their benefit options. “There’s a lot of communication in the HR area,” Ferguson says.
Communication Breeds a Happy Home
Ferguson admits that strong communication skills have not only led to her success at the lab, but they have also helped her to raise a happy family that includes two collegiate athlete daughters, who use the communication skills passed on from their mother to succeed on the court. Ferguson’s youngest daughter will be playing basketball at Bridgewater College and her oldest daughter plays volleyball at Marymount University. To her delight, her oldest child, a son, has stayed closer to home and works in HVAC.
“My children and I are extremely close,” she says. “I think communication is a big deal and I press upon them to communicate. We talk about everything.”
As for communication at the lab, Ferguson is available to answers questions and provide guidance in-person, by phone or email. When a change needs to be made to an insurance plan, employees can adjust their benefits electronically during the annual Open Enrollment period in the fall.