Comp & Class Redesign update: Compensation

Karen Shemanski and Bob Millsap

Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

The University of Iowa’s Compensation and Classification Redesign Project has crossed yet another threshold, this time in relation to the compensation aspect. Individual staff members can now see how their current salary relates to the new compensation plan. The new compensation plan is designed to be more responsive to the market, have more flexibility to reward responsibility and performance, and better support career development for the University’s non-bargaining professional and scientific (P&S) staff.

We’ll provide a quick overview of the compensation plan in this article; the updated Compensation and Classification Redesign Project website ( offers a comprehensive view.

All University jobs were assigned pay levels based on an evaluation of five attributes:

  • Knowledge and skills
  • Judgment
  • Breadth and scope of role
  • Impact and accountability
  • Communication impact

Each pay level contains jobs from different job functions and families that are evaluated similarly based on the five university evaluation criteria. Market conditions, however, differ for the various types of jobs.

Salary data for benchmark jobs, taken from 18 market surveys, indicated a need for two market ranges per pay level (Structures A and B) to reflect the different market conditions for some jobs. The majority of jobs fall within Structure A; the second, Structure B, is reserved for jobs with a specialized salary market that does not fit within Structure A.

Your pay level information can be found by logging in to the Self-Service website ( and selecting the My ePersonnel File link in the General category of your personal tab. Your P&S Pay Level is a two-character code, consisting of one number and the letters “A” or “B.” Use the link provided next to the code to view the market range and median zone for your job classification.

This market data was then used to establish market ranges and median zones for pay levels 2–8. These terms are defined as follows:

Market range: The minimum and maximum salary rates for a pay level based upon salary market data.

Median zone: The range representing the majority of midpoints from the salary market data collected on benchmark jobs. This serves as a point of reference for determining salary rates within the market range.

The University’s goal is to pay well-performing employees salaries that are at the market rate for similar responsibilities and job performance. Our immediate goal is to have staff with satisfactory performance receiving salaries in the broader market range, with some exceptions (above and below) based on relative levels of performance and responsibility.

Future salary increases will be affected by your performance and responsibility levels, your job’s relationship to the market, and the funds available.

The redesign provides a new framework for making salary decisions, but it doesn’t affect funds available for salary increases. What it will affect is the distribution of these funds. There may be more individual variances in future salary increases, recognizing differences in performance and market position.

The compensation plan achieves many goals:

  • Salary market ranges with median zones that are responsive to relevant market rates.
  • A common pay structure that is flexible enough to recognize variations in funding and local unit needs.
  • More communication and transparency about the compensation plan.
  • More opportunity to recognize—and reward—performance.

This allows the University to better recruit and retain highly talented staff. And another point of emphasis that bears repeating: no one will see a salary decrease when the plan is implemented in October.

Let us address a few likely questions. (A comprehensive list of FAQs can be found at

Why doesn’t my salary fit into the median zone?
The median zone represents the midpoints of the market data collected on benchmark jobs—not the typical range of actual salaries paid. The market range is a broader representation of typical salaries. Within the range, different salary rates should reflect different levels of responsibility and performance.

What factors will be considered in making future salary decisions?
Decisions on individual salaries will be focused on responsibilities, performance and then the relative position within the market range. In making decisions, your department will also need to consider the total resources available and how they need to use those resources strategically to support the salaries of all staff members and the objectives of the unit.

How will years of experience or additional education be recognized in the new compensation plan and pay practices?
The new compensation plan and pay structures emphasize job responsibilities and performance in the context of the salary market. Education and experience, whether at the University or elsewhere in your career, are generally going to be reflected in the level of responsibility you are able to perform and in your proficiency or level of performance of those responsibilities. Education and experience continue to be valued as they are reflected in the work performed by University P&S staff.


As we mentioned in our last update in fyi, we encourage you to stay engaged with the process. Visit the Compensation and Classification website ( 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!