The first systemwide market review of job profiles since Iowa State's new professional and scientific (P&S) classification and compensation system launched in September 2020 has moved 178 profiles -- roughly 30% of those in the system -- to a higher pay grade in the salary matrix, effective Aug. 1.
The job profile moves impacted about one-third of the university's approximately 3,400 P&S employees, increasing their future earning potential. The salaries of an anticipated 231 employees in the affected group were below the minimum in their new pay grade on Aug. 1, and supervisors have a Jan. 1, 2023, deadline to raise those salaries to the new pay grade minimums. In addition, the salaries of five employees that exceeded their former pay grade now fall within their new pay grade, resuming their eligibility for performance-based increases that are added to their base salaries.
Reminder: What's a job profile?
Formerly known as a classification, a job profile is a set of positions with similar job duties -- often in units across the university -- that require comparable levels of knowledge, training and education. There are more than 600 job profiles, organized among 29 job families, in the P&S classification system. Examples include: academic advisor I, graphic designer III or librarian IV. They provide a high-level overview of a job so compensation decisions are made with consistency.
The pay grade adjustments complete the second of a two-phase review of the P&S staff compensation structure. Phase 1 resulted in a 6% adjustment to the P&S pay matrix on March 1, which made the overall structure competitive in the market. Ahead of the original Oct. 1 deadline, supervisors raised employee salaries to at least the new minimums.
"The two-phase review of the P&S structure is the first of what will be a regular review process," said Kristi Darr, vice president for university human resources (UHR). "We want to keep our structure in a competitive position to allow us to attract and retain talent."
Darr said senior leaders approved all job profile moves where market data showed they should be increased.
UHR shared the changes in separate communications to all supervisors of P&S staff and, subsequently, the supervisors of P&S employees who moved to new pay grades. All impacted P&S employees received their own emails from UHR on July 26.
Neither the phase 1 or phase 2 review alters the category of a job profile (support contributor, individual contributor or manager) or the job duties, qualifications or exemption status.
First review since go-live
UHR compensation analyst Whitney Grote said moving 178 profiles in a single review is a bit unusual, but in this case, not worrisome, for several reasons. The volatility in the job market, both during and on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the first consideration. The longer time period since implementation (18 months, not 12) accentuates that volatility, she said. And much of it simply has to do with its newness.
"Anytime it's the first review after implementation, you're going to find things that simply weren't where they needed to be at go-live. That's a normal expectation," Grote said.
She also noted the new P&S classification and compensation system was launched six months into the pandemic.
"Budget challenges were a big concern across the university, and leaders made decisions in that climate about how far to advance the structure, given those factors," Grote said. "Senior leaders understood that a measured approach then would lead to the catching up we're doing now."
Grote said she expects the volume of job profile changes during the annual review to stabilize over a few years.
"At go-live, we told the campus community we'd review jobs and maintain the health of this structure. That's what this process is all about," she said.
Many kinds of work impacted
Grote said UHR's classification and compensation team used third-party, HR-verified salary surveys (not data from self-reported options such as salary.com) to ensure individual job profiles remain competitive. She offered these observations about the review process:
- The review team compared job duties, not job titles.
- A majority of the moves are one pay grade; fewer than 30 job profiles moved two pay grades.
- Job profile moves occurred in 23 of the classification structure's 29 P&S job families.
- Within each job category, the ratio of job profiles identified to move is fairly consistent: 27% of support contributor job profiles moved, 33% of individual contributor job profiles moved and 25% of manager-level job profiles moved.
- Not all levels in a job series (for example, accountant, graphic designer or data analyst) moved in this review -- and that's OK. In a market-driven system, the goal is for each profile to be competitive with the market in order to attract and retain talented employees, not to maintain a strict salary separation between the job profiles, Grote said.