P&S Council considers requests for salary hikes, improved performance evaluations

For the second straight year, the Professional and Scientific Council is considering recommending an average salary increase of 3 to 5 percent in FY 2020 for P&S staff.

In a first reading Dec. 6, the council considered its annual compensation and benefits recommendations and report. Final approval will come at its Jan. 3 meeting. The nonbinding request is provided to university administration, which typically sets salary adjustment guidelines in the weeks before the start of the fiscal year July 1.

Mirroring last year's recommendation, the council's compensation and benefits committee is calling for the 3 to 5 percent salary hike for all P&S employees who receive a performance review of satisfactory or better. Increases should at least match the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the council's motion states. The CPI was 2.1 percent last year.

The council's motion asserts that more competitive pay is essential to attract and keep quality staff. A committee report accompanying the motion cited data from the campus climate survey released in May 2018 showing that half of staff respondents had considered leaving their job within the last year, with low salary being the No. 1 reason mentioned. Just 23 percent of surveyed staff agreed Iowa State salaries are competitive with similar positions in industry.

The report also points out that the upcoming budget year follows four years of limited wage growth for P&S staff, including a 1 percent increase in FY19 and none in FY18, even as pay increases are trending up nationwide.

The salary recommendation asks university leaders to seek ways to increase revenue and legislative funding while prioritizing higher employee pay over other projects and new initiatives. It will take more revenue to ensure salaries reflect performance evaluations and differentiate between average employees and high performers, the report says.

Improving appraisals

Council members also completed a first reading of a related recommendation to improve and standardize performance evaluations, a council focus for several years. The motion calls for creating a new form and tracking system to ensure P&S employees are evaluated at least annually. Evaluations would include employee input, review job expectations, be available to employees before meeting with their supervisor and incorporate these aspects:  

  • Assessments of work quality and skills in communication and relationship-building
  • Mutually agreed-upon goals for next year
  • Progress toward last year's goals
  • Diversity and inclusion issues that pertain to the position
  • Review of professional development activities and options

Though reforming the performance evaluation system is likely to take a back seat to major university initiatives rolling out in 2019, the transition to the Workday software platform and the reorganization of human resources and financial staff set the stage for improving the staff appraisal process, said Ryan Drollette, chair of the council's compensation and benefits committee.

"No, we don't expect this to be implemented right now. But we want this to be added to the priority list," he said.

The performance evaluation motion also is up for final approval at the council's Jan. 3 meeting.