Catching up with the Comp and Class Redesign Project

Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

The Compensation and Classification Redesign Project is one that holds great significance for the thousands of non-organized professional and scientific (P&S) staff at The University of Iowa, and for good reason: it deals with your work, your pay, and your career. We want to provide an update on where the project stands and how it will progress.

First, let us remind you why this redesign is happening:

The current job evaluation system used to assign job classifications to pay grades is outdated, overly complex (with 36 factors), and not well understood by campus constituents. It doesn’t emphasize the skills that are important in today’s workplace: interdisciplinary work teams; expanded uses of technology; emphases on process improvement, customers, and innovation skills; or simply the ability to include other emerging skills that may become important for future success.

The current system is not always market competitive. In order to recruit and retain the talent needed by the University, we need salary ranges and market zones for determining competitive salary rates.

Some job classification titles are vague. A report from 2005 noted that one-quarter of P&S employees had “generic” classification titles such as “program associate” and “program assistant.” Can you recruit top talent to those classification titles? Can you find market data to determine a competitive salary rate when individuals within the same classification perform many different types of work? We need a more specific approach to job classification based upon skill, effort, and responsibility to support recruitment and a new compensation structure.

Let’s run through the project timeline…

What’s been done
Before we talk about what work lies ahead, let us first reiterate our appreciation to our P&S staff for their participation in this process. More than 4,000 job information forms (JIFs) were submitted by employees describing their individual jobs. You provided valuable information that will help ensure the success of this project.

The Compensation and Classification Redesign Project began over two years ago. In that time, we have identified 20 job functions describing work being performed by P&S staff across campus. Expert panels made up of representatives of these job functions established more than 100 job families with progressions that clearly identify potential career paths.

What’s going on now
Twenty placement committees (one for each job function) are currently reviewing the individual JIFs to place employees into one of the job functions, job families, and job family progressions. Following the original project plan, a more specific job classification system is the foundation for the compensation phase of the project.

We’re pleased to report that more than half of the placement committees actually have completed this process. Another six committees are currently working on the process, and two will soon start.

What comes next
After the placement committees finish their work, UI Human Resources will place individuals who did not complete JIFs into a job function, job family and job family progression. Their current classification will be a primary resource for their placement. Senior HR leaders from each organization will help review all placements in January 2011 to identify any significant discrepancies.
When February 2011 rolls around, individual employees will be informed of their job function and job family assignment in the new classification system. Those of you who submitted a JIF will have the opportunity to appeal your job function, job family, or job family progression if you believe a different function, family, or progression is more appropriate. Appeals can be made in March and April 2011.

So what about compensation?
Work is beginning on the compensation portion of the project. We’re identifying benchmark jobs, sources of salary market data, and methods to use and manage the data in building salary ranges and market zones.

We can tell you that the July 1, 2011, salary decisions for fiscal year 2012 will be based on the current structure and on individual performance.

Where’s the finish line?
Once we hit July 2011, we’ll begin to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. At that point, we will be implementing the new classification structure in the Human Resources system. Come October 2011, we plan to roll out the new compensation structure and begin education on its use in anticipation of salary decisions for July 2012 (fiscal year 2013).

There’s our finish line, July 2012. Salary decisions will be based on performance and the new compensation structure.

As stated earlier, we understand the interest, the curiosity, and the uncertainty that P&S staff might have about this project. We encourage you to stay engaged with the process. Visit the Compensation and Classification web site ( There is no shortage of information posted there: the list of job functions, job families, and their purposes; a list of frequently asked questions about the project; short and detailed audio descriptions of the project; even the Buck Consultants report that got the ball rolling.

Visit with your Staff Council reps—they receive monthly updates from Karen. And you can always submit questions to us at We’ve even hyperlinked the e-mail address in the previous sentence so you don’t have to type out that long string of words—just give it a click!

Thanks for your input and patience during this project.

Karen Shemanski and Robert Millsap