Council reviews compensation and benefits draft report

The Professional and Scientific (P&S) Council completed a first read Jan. 5 on a motion to send its annual compensation and benefits recommendations to senior leaders. Erin Gibson, chair of the council's compensation and benefits committee, asked council members to review the draft report and provide input prior to the second reading and vote at the council's Feb. 2 meeting. Once the council approves it, the intent is to share the report and recommendations with senior leaders in time to influence decisions regarding fiscal year 2024 budget plans and revenue requests.

Committee members tied the draft's content to two "to be" statements in the university's new strategic plan of particular relevance to P&S employees:

  • To be the university that cultivates a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where students, faculty and staff flourish.
  • To be the university that fosters lifelong learning.

Slipping backward

Campus climate, employee retention and meaningful and consistent salary increases are indicators, for staff, of the first statement, wrote the draft authors. While salaries may be the most important factor in helping employees flourish, inflation and higher employee health insurance premiums have eroded recent salary increases. And the aspirational "managing pay by thirds" outlined when the P&S compensation plan was adopted in April 2020 isn't occurring broadly. "Many experienced P&S employees with years of outstanding performance are still within the first third of their salary range," notes the draft report. Recommendations for the next budget year include:

  • Earmark a cost-of-living adjustment for P&S employees in the annual budget.
  • Create workshops or training modules for specific audiences (for example, deans, supervisors, HR recruiting staff, general P&S staff) that correct common misperceptions about the compensation plan.
  • Continue to provide (and promote) the university's great employee benefits, which are market-competitive and improve employee well-being.

Career development

For P&S employees, the second statement means not just professional development, but career development and advancement, said drafters of the report. Career development opportunities are small and fragmented, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Supervisor training tends to focus on managing low performers rather than on growing a team and its top performers. The council has long advocated for additional training and communication for supervisors to help them grow in their roles and "provide an improved culture for their employees," notes the draft report. Additional recommendations include:

  • Increase the number of learning and development staff in university human resources to have capacity for offerings beyond wellbeing.
  • Develop a performance appraisal system and training available to all P&S staff.
  • Offer live workshops or coaching sessions that explain and guide employees through the P&S classification structure and career progression guidelines.
  • To assist staff in managing their own careers, create learning opportunities (emphasizing key skills) specific to job profiles and job levels.

The wins

The draft report concludes with a series of "wins" -- programming in place that enhances the P&S experience. In the area of professional development, these include the annual P&S professional development conference (see below), Emerging Leaders Academy, Cardinal Women* program and even the council itself. In the area of benefits and compensation, the wins include vacation and sick leave that supports work-life balance, employee health insurance premiums "well below" the national average, the year-old WorkFlex program, generous employer contribution to retirement plans, and regular updates to the P&S classification and compensation system to respond to market changes.

Register for professional development day

Early registration ($120) runs through Jan. 31 for the Feb. 22 professional development conference for P&S employees. After that, the cost is $140. The conference will be held at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center (8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) and features a keynote presentation by communications coach Erik Dominguez, three breakout sessions, lunch, refreshments and networking opportunities. Descriptions and learning outcomes for 16 breakout options organized by four tracks (leadership, human interaction, professional resources, and health and wellness) are on the conference website.

Election window opens next month

The council's representation committee will open nominations for council members and officers at the February meeting and close nominations at the March meeting, with council elections to be scheduled after spring break. About 40% of the 51 council terms expire in June. Some incumbents are eligible to seek another three-year term.