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November 21, 2003

HR consultant may review P&S system

by Anne Krapfl
Items from a list of classification and compensation issues largely pieced together in the last year by the Professional and Scientific Council may get addressed this winter by a human resources consultant. Representatives from HR Audit, Brookfield, Wis. -- one of numerous companies that submitted proposals through the procurement process -- will visit campus this month to discuss an "audit" of Iowa State's P&S system.

A task force overseeing this project will evaluate the proposed work plan and if the initial visit goes well, HR Audit will assess the strengths and shortcomings of the P&S system and recommend solutions over a period of approximately three months.

HR Audit was selected for a final interview because of the company's experience with human resources processes, said Carla Espinoza, assistant vice president for human resource services and a member of the task force.

"In my opinion, we don't need a new system. We want an assessment of the existing system," she said. "This group's methodology addressed everything we asked them to."

Espinoza said a consultant is being hired because administrators, including vice president for business and finance Warren Madden, believe the P&S Council has presented some valid questions and concerns, and to ensure that an audit gets done quickly and efficiently. Iowa State has just two HR employees who focus on classification and compensation issues, she said. A review by them would take years to complete. She also said it's valuable to ask "a fresh set of eyes" to look at the system.

In the proposed work, the consultant will review:
  • Policies and procedures related to compensation and classification
  • P&S salary matrix and pay grades
  • Salary compression (salaries that grow at a slower rate than periodic upward adjustments to the pay ranges)
  • Factors applied to determining a grade ("P level") and the relationship to pay
  • Market competitiveness of salaries (ISU uses salary mid-points for comparison)
  • Occurrence of P&S managers whose salaries are lower than the merit employees they supervise
  • Expectations and communication about movement through an employee's salary range
  • Pay increments for promotions
  • Initial hiring ranges
  • Relevance of the surveys and data used in the annual P&S salaries report.
The P&S Council presented all these issues to administrators in various resolutions during the past year, following committee study and council discussion. Many of the perceived problems are as old as the 12-year-old system.

Espinoza said HR Audit would be paid approximately $20,000 for its work. Funding would come from one-time salary savings this year within the business and finance division.

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