Next up in new P&S system: Compensation

Starting today, professional and scientific (P&S) employees will learn more about the compensation portion of the university's new P&S classification and compensation system, including how to use the compensation structure, comprised of 16 pay grades. Additional resources have been posted to the project website.

Salaries don't change when the new system goes live Sept. 20.

Over the next two weeks, managers of P&S employees will receive an email for each employee that confirms their job title, job level and job family, pay grade and its range, their position in the grade (below minimum; first, middle or top third; or above maximum) and FLSA (federal Fair Labor Standards Act) exemption status. These emails will encourage them to share the information with their employees as their schedules allow. P&S employees received their job classification information in June emails or in subsequent title reviews. On Sept. 20, they'll have access to pay grade information in Workday.

Emma Mallarino Houghton, director of classification and compensation in university human resources (UHR), said the intent is that, when possible, employees learn their pay grade information in a conversation with their manager, not an email. Unlike the review process that followed P&S employees' link to job titles this summer, there is no action to take this fall on pay grades, she said.

"At this point, pay grade information is purely informational, and we're asking P&S employees to take in this information with an open mind," Mallarino Houghton said. "What matters is the new job you are linked to, which is why we spent so much time setting and reviewing those.

"The university does not expect any immediate compensation changes. UHR will provide support to managers in making strategic decisions that align with their budgets," she said.

Resources for P&S employees and their managers

The classification and compensation team added training resources to the project website, intended to help P&S employees and their managers understand how a market-based structure works. Available under new compensation structure resources are:

  • Compensation Guidelines, an eight-page operations document
  • Compensation Conversation: A Guide for Managers, includes key messages and an FAQ
  • Understanding the New P&S Compensation Structure, a 14-page voiced slide show
  • Four voiced mini-sessions (3-5 minutes each) derived from the above document and highlighting key aspects of a market-based compensation structure

Emails to managers

Next week, managers of P&S employees whose current salaries will land them outside their new pay grade -- either below or above -- will receive emails, with instructions to share the information with employees as soon as possible. Mallarino Houghton said about 9% of P&S employees fit this category. All others will land within their new pay grade, and their managers will receive emails the week of Sept. 14. They, too will be encouraged to visit with their employees, if possible.

About 6% of P&S employees' salaries will not meet the minimum in their new pay grade. Units have one year, until Oct. 1, 2021, to raise them to at least that minimum salary in the range.

Market helps set the value

In the new structure, jobs -- and their pay grades -- reflect the value the external market puts on a skill set. For example, the market assigns a greater value to an IT manager's job than a communications manager -- even if both are management level 1 positions in the new P&S structure.

That distinction is foreign to the P&S system the university will retire this fall, in which employees working in dissimilar fields might have similar salaries because they shared a job title within the university. The focus was on internal equity among jobs. The new system considers the two -- internal equity and external market -- equally important.

Mallarino Houghton encourages employees to review the new compensation resources to better understand the key differences between the old and new structures. She said that understanding is critical to properly considering an employee's compensation in the new structure. For example, an employee's salary that was above midpoint and is below midpoint in the new structure is not necessarily a problem, she noted. 

"Employees should consider the many factors outlined in the new resources to understand how to think about the new structures and what questions to ask next," she said.

Mallarino Houghton reminded employees that this three-year project has been a market study, not an equity study.

"We have a snapshot of a moment in time, and we can start to work on any shortcomings we identify, but the university is not obligated to increase salaries immediately. That's never been what this project was about," she said. "We want managers to work on strategies to address any issues over time."

The overarching goal is to develop a market-based structure -- and pay philosophy -- that is equitable and attracts and rewards excellent employees to the university, she said.

Moving forward

Mallarino Houghton said UHR staff will evaluate the new classification (every few years) and compensation (annually) structures regularly and develop a data-driven process for continuous improvement. The intent is to not allow the new system to atrophy over time.

"You can't put a system in place and never touch it again," she said.