Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
November 6, 1998

Employee teams will suggest changes to P&S system

by Anne Dolan

As part of a periodic review of the classification and pay structure for professional and scientific staff, employee teams are studying perceived shortcomings in how it has worked so far. The system was put in place in July 1993, said Dorothy Sally, manager of the P&S classification and compensation system.

Three study teams are looking at issues related to P&S research positions, classification and compensation. These three areas emerged as top concerns from 11 focus groups held last fall to begin the review process. Focus group members included P&S employees and other university employees who interact regularly with P&S staff as part of their jobs. Inside will follow up on the teams' ideas as their reports become public.

The first group, the research issue team, worked from April to August and has submitted recommendations to the President's Cabinet for review and discussion. The team of faculty and administrators was asked to suggest flexible personnel policies that strengthen research programs by allowing P&S-level research positions to be more responsive to the hiring market and less constrained by the P&S structure and salary matrix.

This team doubles as the study committee looking into the same issues for President Martin Jischke. Last fall, Jischke requested the study in his response to the Task Force on Research report.

The second group, the classification issue team, is close to finishing its final recommendations, which will be submitted to Carla Espinoza, assistant vice president for human resource services. The all-P&S group has looked at the factors used by reviewers to assess a Position Information Questionnaire (PIQ), and the PIQ document itself, with an eye on providing guidelines for writing one. The group also discussed the need to identify career paths available at Iowa State.

"P&S employees want career paths for long-term employment at the university," Sally said, "and they want to know what's expected of them to move to the next step."

Sally said the group's first conclusion is that the P&S classification system is not seriously flawed. "A lot of what this group is recommending has to do with better communication and education," she said.

The third group, the compensation issue team, will meet for the first time later this month. Sally said she's not sure how much this group can do because changes probably would affect the budget, "and that requires broader discussions."

A key issue for the group will be employees' frustration with, and misperceptions about, slow advancement through the pay ranges. They also will review compensation policies, including the correlation between a performance evaluation and a salary increase, and grant-funded positions that adhere to P&S salary increase rules.

The benchmark for the P&S classification and compensation system is whether Iowa State can attract and retain talented employees, Sally said.

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