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Starting over with a new compensation plan

A new system that doesn’t position employees within salary structure appropriately can lead to unmet expectations
University Business, November 2013

Any institution building a new compensation system must have adequate resources—including staff— to complete the project within a reasonable time frame, says Lynne Hammond, assistant vice president, human resources at Auburn University in Alabama.

A new system that doesn’t position employees within the salary structure appropriately can lead to unmet expectations that translate into disgruntled employees.

Cultivating employees outside of human resources to serve as change leaders, in particular the faculty senate and deans, is also essential, says Kurt Dorschel of Huron Education.

“During a recent project, we spent a significant amount of time working with faculty and staff to develop buy-in on the new compensation program,” he says. “At the outset, many were skeptical of market-based pay and tying pay to performance.”

Another necessity: “Be sure you allow an appeal process for classification decisions,” Hammond says. That will provide recourse for employees who feel their position has not been rated appropriately.

But no matter what the details of the plan are, there are some basics that should be followed. Jamie Ferrare, senior vice president of the Association of Governing Boards, suggests that any compensation plan offered to college or university employees should be:

  • Well constructed and developed
  • Consistent with expectations and goals established by the board and president
  • Well communicated and understood by all participants
  • Consistent in its application.

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