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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 14, 2006

P&S Council endorses concept of cash bonuses

by Anne Krapfl

The P&S Council lent its support April 5 to the concept of "flexible pay for exceptional performance" -- or one-time cash bonuses for outstanding work by P&S employees.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved such a one-year pilot program last May for non-organized P&S employees at the University of Iowa. At next month's regents meeting, Iowa is expected to request permanent approval of the program. Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa, which a year ago opted not to pursue the program for their campuses, could implement similar (needn't be identical) programs if they choose.

The motion passed by ISU's council notes that if the regents approve the request, the P&S Council would like to be involved in developing an implementation plan for Iowa State.

The intent of flexible pay is to reward excellent performance by employees in an era in which there isn't a lot of flexibility with annual salary increases. Bonuses are fairly common in the private sector. Bonuses don't become part of base salaries.

The council's motion passed unanimously, but not without a long discussion. Some council members expressed concern about broad access to the bonus awards, since they most likely would be funded at the departmental level.

"My concern is that it won't be applied uniformly across the university, and the rich will get richer. Some units just don't have any money for this concept, no matter how good your work is," said council member Kevin Kane. "Could this be done with some kind of a central pool to help those units that don't have the funds, so that all employees could be eligible?"

Associate vice president for human resource services Carla Espinoza, who serves as a liaison to the council, said a central pool would have to be funded somehow and at the expense of something else.

In the end, council members decided it is important to support the concept at this time and address the specifics of an Iowa State program when the time is appropriate.

In the first 10 months of the pilot at Iowa, 21 of 24 eligible colleges and administrative units submitted flexible pay guidelines that were accepted by Iowa's HR office. Sixty-four employees received one-time bonuses, which averaged just over $3,000.

In other business, the council approved motions:

  • To request increased funding for the P&S tuition reimbursement program to cover up to four credits (undergraduate or graduate) per semester. The program currently covers three credits per semester, per grant recipient.
  • To request clarification in two sections of the P&S Handbook (related to notification of dismissal). As proposed, the phrase "one month" would become "30 calendar days" and "three months" would become "90 calendar days."
  • For a "best awards/recognition program" among existing college and unit award programs on campus (see story below).


The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, is expected to review in May a one-year pilot program at the University of Iowa in which P&S employees who have done exceptional work can receive one-time cash bonuses.