New P&S classification structure is on schedule for fall rollout

Work continues on developing a market-based classification and compensation structure for Iowa State's professional and scientific (P&S) employees. Director of classification and compensation in university human resources Emma Houghton provided an update to a live and online audience March 12, part of the P&S Council's seminar series.

The classification and compensation project is independent of the university's implementation of Workday software for finance and human resource processes, and will roll out after the planned July 1 Workday go-live date.

Launched in June 2017 when 75 percent of P&S employees voluntarily completed a profile tool for his or her job, Houghton said fall 2019 remains the target for a potential staggered implementation of the new structure.

"Our future structure looks nothing like today. We can't draw parallel lines from current state to future state," she said.

But Houghton also clarified that the new structure won't change the work employees do. The intent is to "identify what employees do and label it accordingly."

Leveling jobs

The new structure introduces level guides to differentiate the type of work being done and level of work performed (from entry to highly experienced). Three level guides apply uniformly across all jobs:

  • Management (levels 1-5): Employee supervises a team of P&S or merit employees, or has responsibility for a major function
  • Individual contributor (levels 1-4): Employee is focused on the outcomes of own work (at higher levels, this could include managing a small number of employees, but not as a main focus)
  • Support contributor (levels 1-3): Employee provides support to someone or something else

Houghton said the level guides provide transparency and apply consistent criteria across the system. For example, program coordinator 1 would indicate a similar type and level of work for employees in a college or the student affairs division -- even if their duties vary. In the current system, employees with the same job title might be doing vastly different levels of work, she noted, due to a lack of consistency applied over time.

Level guides, which will be reflected in job titles, drive salary ranges. Houghton said market variations -- industry vs. higher education, local vs. national, for example -- also impact pay in the new structure. Employees at different levels in different fields could have similar salaries.

"It lets our employees get paid what is grounded in market, what's competitive, so we can help people stay," she said.

What's completed

Houghton said her staff, assisted by the extended project team, has defined jobs and the kind of work in each, used third-party salary surveys to benchmark jobs, and proposed a jobs progression framework that lays the groundwork for a pay structure.

What's next

The task at hand is to write job profile descriptions -- the Workday term for what we have known as classifications -- and assign job titles to them. The current structure of just over 400 classifications will be replaced with a structure containing an anticipated 500-plus job profiles, about 300 of which are drafted. Some of these are the human resources and finance P&S positions in the improved service delivery (ISD) model. Position descriptions will continue to be unique to individuals but aligned with a job profile.

Houghton said the next task, through April, will be to make sure the proposed structure places jobs accurately within a hierarchy. The final tasks are to complete a salary structure and slot employees into jobs. When P&S employees receive their job titles in the new structure, there will be time for review, she said.

Other notes

During a Q&A discussion, Houghton offered insight on these topics:

  • Reclassifications still are being processed, but will stop at some point "when we need things to stop moving."
  • Level of work and responsibility will impact where employees are slotted in the new structure; years of service in the job or highest degree earned, less so.
  • The new structure won't fix salary compression inequities (new hires brought in at salaries not far from employees with many years on the job). "It will highlight the issue for managers and start the discussion on how to rectify it. It may take time," she said.
  • Salaries will not change (up or down) at the time of job slotting. "Budgets are tight and we're not going to rectify market inequities right away," she said.
  • In the context of ISD, Houghton said units that need to reassign duties locally should be attempting to match the level of duties transferred with the level of the employee's current duties.


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