Consultant is next step in P&S pay structure review

A comprehensive review of the classification and compensation system for professional and scientific staff is underway. Selection of a consulting partner is the next step in the process. Emma Mallarino Houghton, director of classification and compensation in university human resources, provided an update at the July 7 P&S Council meeting.

"This is a big deal and we're really excited about it," Mallarino Houghton said. "Over the last year or so, we've been doing an evaluation of the opportunities and 'pain points' in relation to classification and compensation. What does it mean to be a P&S employee at Iowa State, and how does the definition -- or lack thereof -- of your job and what you do here help you feel engaged and part of this university?"

Mallarino Houghton said that "everything is on the table" in the review of the system that was implemented in 1993. In addition to modernizing the system, some specific goals of the review are to better define and establish:

  • Job categories and job families
  • Career development/advancement pathways
  • Pay structures, including comparisons to external markets
  • Practices and policies related to pay administration

"We want to make sure it's agile and it grows with us," Mallarino Houghton said. "It's important that we address this from a bigger picture standpoint, rather than continuing to add to [the current] structure. While it can create anxiety around 'what does this mean for me,' my hope is that at the end of the day we've done it right -- people feel better situated and better identify with the institution and their peers across the organization."

In response to a question about the possibility of pay cuts as a result of position reviews, Mallarino Houghton said a "cost-neutral" approach is most likely.

Overtime pay

Mallarino Houghton said that a change in federal law (Fair Labor Standards Act) that on Dec. 1 will raise the salary threshold for overtime pay isn't the driving factor for the structure review, but it did get the process moving.

"It was an incentive to start sooner rather than later," she said. "This is long overdue for many other reasons. It just makes sense to wrap FLSA into this review."

A P&S nonexempt category, which would include positions that qualify for overtime pay, likely will be created for compliance with FLSA. Mallarino Houghton said an evaluation of job duties -- beyond the scope of job titles and position descriptions -- will determine nonexempt status. She said time-keeping policies also will be developed.


Once a consultant has been selected (a request for proposal is expected to go out very soon), an advisory committee will be created to help guide the review process. Mallarino Houghton said a timeline, dedicated website and other resources also will be developed. Planning for Dec. 1 implementation of FLSA regulations will continue, regardless of progress with the classification and compensation review.