P&S employees are closer to learning their new job titles

Professional and scientific (P&S) employees, along with their supervisors, will learn their job titles in the new classification and compensation system in individual emails from university human resources (UHR). The timing of those emails isn't set yet, UHR classification and compensation director Emma Mallarino Houghton said April 14 during an online seminar for P&S employees. She said some "linking" meetings -- in which HR delivery teams assist local managers as they assign their employees to job titles -- haven't occurred yet due to demands on staff time by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once they're complete, the classification/compensation team will review supervisors' job linkings before sharing them.

By the time P&S staff learn their new job titles, Mallarino Houghton said the classification/compensation review website will include resources such as:

  • All 500-plus job titles in 29 job families.
  • Descriptions for job titles.
  • Explanation of the three job levels: support contributor, individual contributor, manager.
  • Tips and questions to help employees understand their placement and assess its correlation to the work they do.

The three-year project to develop a P&S classification and compensation system that reflects and keeps pace with the market received a green light for implementation in February. The intent is to more accurately define the work P&S employees do and, over time, align the relative value of that work in a market-driven pay structure. The big-picture goal is to do a better job of attracting and retaining talented employees, Mallarino Houghton said.

Employee review period

Before the new P&S job titles are linked to the 15-grade pay structure approved earlier this month by the state Board of Regents, employees -- or their supervisors -- who question their job title assignment will have time to learn more and, if they choose, request a review of the assignment. For employees whose work tasks have changed significantly in recent months, this will be the time to make sure they are assigned to the appropriate job title. Once a timeline for employee review is set, Mallarino Houghton said she also will share a step-by-step review process.

When the employee review proces is complete, Mallarino Houghton said full implementation will occur in Workday, where employees will see their final title and placement in the pay structure.

She reminded employees what will change for them in the new system:

  • Job title (some may look similar to current titles)
  • Description for that job title that includes examples of tasks performed
  • Pay grade

She also noted some things won't change as a result of implementation:

  • The work an employee does
  • Salary and benefits
  • Your supervisor

Mallarino Houghton opened most of the seminar to questions from its 275 participants. Following are some of those, with her responses.


Q: What will promotion look like in the new system?

The promotion policy was new last July 1 with Workday implementation. Promotion should be based on performance in a job. The new P&S structure, including level guides, lays out when an employee is working at the next level in a sustained way -- for at least six months, though that's not cut and dried.

Learn more

A recording of this week's seminar (labeled FY20-9) will be posted in Learn@ISU. Previous Mallarino Houghton seminars archived there include:

  • FY18-6: The market-based pay structure, March 2018
  • FY19-7: The classification structure and level guidelines, March 2019
  • FY20-3: Project update, Sept. 2019

When an employee demonstrates work at a higher level consistently, and there's a need for that higher level in a department, promotion -- movement through the level guides -- is appropriate. We want employees to "sit in class and grow in grade" as much as possible.

Discretionary increases such as annual performance increases or market adjustments help an employee's salary grow, even if there aren't opportunities for promotion.

Q: What will reclassification look like in the new system?

Reclassification should address misclassification. We don't want people using reclassification to account for growth -- that's the purpose of promotions. In the future, reclassification should be the exception, not the rule. It would occur when an employee is doing a job that doesn't align at all with their current classification. That reclassification process can result in promotion, demotion or transfer to another job title at the same level.

Q: How are we ensuring we're not classifying women or people of color into lower-tier jobs?

That's why HR delivery staff are the facilitators of the linking meetings. We asked them to keep an eye out for decisions that might have an impact on protected groups. We are asking the questions that need to be asked and keeping tabs on equity questions.

Q: Will this new system fix internal salary inequities?

We want to be consistent about how we classify P&S employees, including use of the level guides. Consistency in classification will help address compensation inequities. At such a large institution, there may be nuances in each unit, so there will always be some variance. It won't be 100% "equal," but what we're driving toward is consistency in pay delivery and how decisions are made.

Q: What's the impact of lean budgets on implementation of this system?

This project is about a better classification and compensation system for P&S employees. We've been clear that, at the time of implementation, it will be cost-neutral. But once it goes live, we'll see where everything is and we'll need to make strategic decisions about what needs to happen from a compensation perspective. In the new system, we're better equipped to do market analysis. Even in the current budget environment, it's important to have a picture of how P&S employee salaries align with market -- and what, as an institution, we want to do about it.

Q: Will employees be brought in at salaries higher than current employees in the same position?

That happens today. We assess higher salaries for new employees on an individual basis. The new structure will more clearly show the manager what the market for a job is. In the future, the pay grade is the market for that job, so managers can make a salary decision based on the skills and experience of that new hire. HR delivery specialists are there to help them make decisions.

For current employees, being linked to a new title will indicate your (pay) is high, it's low or it's right on target in relation to the market. We're telling HR delivery we have to plan for a process for changing compensation if we come across particular market issues when we go live in Workday.

Q: What job benchmarks were used to establish compensation ranges?

For higher education jobs, we looked at higher education markets, for industry jobs we looked at industry markets, for jobs covered by both we did blending. We looked at local, regional and national benchmark data, so we tried to cover our bases as best we can. We won't be able to benchmark every job we have (some are unique to Iowa State), so we used similarly positioned jobs to assess the market. For some jobs, our market is mostly local, and for others, it's predominantly national. We decided to target national average for the majority of our jobs.

We were able to benchmark more than 70% of our jobs. The extended project team spent more than a year on this.


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