University kicks off review of P&S classification/compensation structure

Iowa State has launched a review of the classification and compensation structure for Professional and Scientific (P&S) staff. Compensation and classification director Emma Mallarino Houghton said the review is intended to create a consistent and modern classification and compensation structure that aligns with the university mission; is fair, equitable and compliant; and enables the recruitment, retention and reward of P&S employees. She said the review should achieve these outcomes:

  • Create and establish a university-wide compensation philosophy for P&S staff
  • Develop defined job categories and job families for P&S jobs
  • Develop a defined P&S pay structure that balances market, equity and performance
  • Develop defined pay administration policies and practices to maintain a modern and competitive pay program
  • Better define pathways for P&S career development

Mallarino Houghton noted that effective organizations review their compensation structures periodically to make sure they are fair, consistent and appropriate for their missions. Given the needs of Iowa State's modern workforce, she said university leaders felt the time was right to take on this important task.

"I have had the opportunity to meet with UHR and P&S Council leadership about this review and am fully supportive," said Ben Allen, who will become Iowa State's interim president on May 9. "It's important that Iowa State's P&S classification and compensation structure is a best practice-oriented structure, as this will help our managers make effective decisions related to positions and pay in their units. It also will support the recruitment and retention of quality employees."

First steps

The university's consulting partner on the project is Aon Consulting. The review process will begin with a series of interviews with university leaders, led by Aon representatives. The interviews will help document the current state of the P&S structure and shape the needs for a new one.

In the coming months, university human resources (UHR) will ask all P&S employees and their managers to complete a job documentation process; essentially summarizing what they do. This collection process is designed to give UHR a better understanding of the variety of work being performed across the university. With an all-encompassing view of P&S positions, the core review team and Aon will organize and group jobs for better consistency, making the classification and compensation structure fair for staff and efficient for managers.

Details about the job documentation process, as well as other components that will engage P&S employees, will be shared soon. Mallarino Houghton noted that the core review team, extended project team and advisory team all contain P&S employees.

The project will continue through the next year, with final recommendations made to university leaders in the summer of 2018. Mallarino Houghton said the target for implementing changes to policies, practices and the classification and compensation structure is fall 2018.


For now, P&S reclassifications will be reviewed and processed as normal, Mallarino Houghton said. There may be a time, later in the project, when reclassifications would be put on hold. When such a decision is made, more information will be provided, she said.

Specific questions about the review project may be emailed to