|FAQs About the Classification and Compensation Project
Got Questions? We have Answers
The following includes answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Classification and Compensation Project. Employees can submit questions not addressed on this site through this link. When questions are received, they will be combined with other project-related questions, answered, and posted on this site.*
* Project-related questions that are applicable to a number of employees will be answered on this site. Questions related to special or individual circumstances will not be answered here, and should be directed to your supervisor or to Human Resources.
1. What is the Classification and
Compensation Project, and what is the purpose of the project?
The Classification and Compensation Project is a classification,
compensation, and performance management initiative aimed at helping
Auburn employees understand their job responsibilities and performance
expectations more clearly. One of the goals of the Classification and
Compensation Project is to make sure compensation decisions are made
consistently in relation to the job and to individual performance on the
2. What is meant by "classification"?
A job classification is a generalized set of duties and
responsibilities. While no two people do exactly the same thing in their
positions, two people in the same classification generally do the same
type of work. For example, one Lab Technician might spend more time
conducting tests and less time building prototypes, whereas another Lab
Technician might spend more time on prototypes and less on testing. But
for purposes of employment decisions (compensation, for example), they
are doing the same type of work, so all Lab Technicians would be in the
same pay grade. However, this does not mean all Lab Technicians would
make the same salary since their work performance and experience levels
may be different. It does mean that the same range of pay would apply to
everyone in the Lab Technician classification.
3. What is meant by "compensation"?
Compensation refers to the monetary rewards earned by workers.
Typically, the term refers to salaries and wages. Compensation is only
one element of the "total compensation" package employees receive at
Auburn. Other elements include health benefits, retirement benefits,
paid time off, and tuition benefits.
4. What is meant by "performance management"?
Performance management is the process of communication between an
employee and their supervisor that includes the following topics:
* What work is expected
* How the work should be done
* What results are expected
* How performance will be evaluated
* The review of actual performance
* How to grow in job performance
As an educational institution, Auburn is committed to providing an
environment where people can perform their jobs effectively. Performance
management is the process of creating that environment by equipping
supervisors with the tools and knowledge they need to communicate with
their employees about the above topics.
5. Why are we doing this?
Auburn can only fulfill its mission of excellence through people who are
dedicated, hardworking, and continually learning and growing. The
Classification and Compensation Project helps you understand career
paths at Auburn University by better aligning compensation,
classification, and performance management.
6. Why are we doing this now?
As the University continues to evolve, it is necessary to ensure that
our processes support the goals of the University. When we reviewed our
current classification, compensation, and performance management system,
we recognized a need to examine this system further to ensure that it
properly aligned with our University's objectives.
While the majority of Auburn employees are properly classified, there
are employees with the same job title who are doing different work, or
who are doing the same work but have different titles. These are the
types of situations that indicated it was time for a thorough review.
In addition, there is currently a growing talent shortage in the U.S.
labor market. It is important to ensure that our salary ranges are
competitive, and that Auburn maintains its ability to attract and retain
7. How will the Classification and Compensation Project impact me?
The end result of the project will be more accurate job descriptions
that will ensure you and your manager have a clear, common understanding
of your job. Also, the new performance management system will equip
managers with better tools for planning and assessing your performance
8. Will I get a pay raise?
This project will not necessarily result in raises for employees. As the
project reaches completion, we will have better structures, information,
and tools to help managers make pay decisions, but the project itself
will not necessarily result in raises.
Pay raises will be dependent on:
* Whether there is funding for salary increases,
* The job you do, and
* How you perform your job.
9. Will my pay decrease?
There is no intention of reducing anyone's salary as a result of this
10. Will my title change?
As a result of the Classification and Compensation Project, the number
of job titles will be reduced, and you may have a new job title as a
result. Job titles will be more clearly defined so that you will be able
to more easily see the various career paths that exist within the
University. Once job titles and job descriptions have been defined, we
will ensure every employee is classified into the proper title.
11. Why is it taking so long to complete the project?
There are many factors that have impacted the timeline of this project.
The project, which was expected to last 18 months, is a major initiative
requiring that we gather and analyze an enormous amount of information.
The first step was finding out what each employee’s job entailed by
having all employees complete a questionnaire and having that
questionnaire reviewed by the immediate supervisor and the top
management official of the organizational unit. This process took much
longer than anticipated, as many employees did not complete the
questionnaire as quickly as requested, and many supervisors did not
return the questionnaire as requested. Not only did we encounter some
problems gathering the questionnaires, but we have also been working on
a moving target in some organizational units as units redefine and
reorganize. We have sometimes gathered information about a group of
positions in a department only to later learn that the department was
reorganizing and job duties were changing. Such issues cannot be
avoided, but have impacted the projected timeline for project
New job descriptions must now be developed, evaluated, and placed into a
newly-built salary grade structure. Finally, we need to spend time with
managers to ensure they understand the new structure and processes for
assessing performance and making compensation decisions.
It takes time to do this right. The quality of the result depends on
taking the time to gather and analyze all the information and on
communicating effectively with all employees and managers along the way.
12. Will I be involved in this initiative?
Yes. To ensure success, we asked every Auburn employee (excluding tenure
track faculty) to participate in the Classification and Compensation
Project by completing a job questionnaire. The project team will use the
information received from employees to develop new job descriptions,
which will be posted on the University's Web site and will be available
through your manager.
13. What is a job questionnaire?
A job questionnaire is a series of questions about the work you do.
Employees with computer access to the Internet were given the
opportunity to complete the questionnaire on line. Others were sent a
paper questionnaire to complete. Once completed by the employee, each
questionnaire was reviewed by the employee’s immediate supervisor and
then by the top management official of the organizational unit. The
purpose of these reviews was to gather any additional comments and
ensure that all parties agreed on the responsibilities of the position.
The responses on these questionnaires from employees and supervisors
were used in developing new job descriptions.
14. What was the purpose of the questionnaire?
The questionnaire was designed to gather accurate information about
jobs. It asked for information on job responsibilities and education,
experience, and skills required for your job. It also solicited
information regarding certain other aspects of your job, to help us
understand your job's complexity, responsibility for decision-making,
working conditions, etc. It is not an assessment of qualifications or
performance, but of the job itself.
15. Where do I go if I have questions about the Classification and
For answers to questions you may have, you can
submit a question to the Classification and Compensation Project team
16. This is related to the compensation issue. Why are salaries
publicly posted? Knowing what others earn undermines job satisfaction,
and contributes to inappropriate competitiveness and bad feelings
As a public institution, pay information is considered public
information. While this information is public, employees should not draw
any conclusions when comparing their salary to others since a person's
salary is a function of budget for that position, labor market
conditions at the time the person was hired, and the employee's
performance level and qualifications.
17. Will faculty be involved in the process of defining appropriate
classification and compensation for non-faculty employees? As managers
of these employees and the individuals directly responsible for
recruiting and retention, faculty have a significant interest in the
Yes. All employees, including faculty will have a role in the process of
defining appropriate job classifications. Because accurate job
descriptions are the basis of sound classification and compensation
decisions, all University Staff, Administrative and Professional, and
some Non-Tenure Track employees were asked to complete a job
questionnaire telling us about the work they do. The information
provided by each employee was reviewed by that employee's manager -
giving all managers an opportunity to make any additional comments. The
information provided on the job questionnaire was then used to create
18. Will this project include analysis of classification/compensation
for field staff for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System?
Yes. The project includes an analysis of positions currently classified
as University Staff, Administrative and Professional, and some
Non-Tenure Track positions, including those in the Alabama Cooperative
19. How were participants selected for the focus groups that took
place at the beginning of the classification and compensation study?
A stratified random sampling procedure was used by selecting individuals
from a list of all employees who would be affected by the Classification
and Compensation project. Employees were separated into several
different groups: Managers, Non-Tenure Track, Labor and Trades,
University Staff, and Administrative & Professional. Within each of
these groups a sample was selected. For example: University Staff
employees were listed on a spreadsheet and numbered 1 to (approximately)
900. Every employee on a line that was numbered with a multiple of 9 was
chosen for inclusion in the focus groups.
20. Once a Job Questionnaire was completed, it was forwarded to the
individual’s supervisor for review and comments. If the supervisor made
comments, were the employees notified and allowed to review the
This questionnaire was designed to allow supervisors to comment on an
employee's answers to the questions; however, they were not able to
alter the answers. Although employees were not notified of any comments
made by the immediate supervisor, another level of management above the
supervisor reviewed the responses and the supervisor's comments prior to
the final submission to Human Resources.
21. According to the job questionnaire schedule, I should have
received a questionnaire by now, and have not. Who should I contact?
Contact your Human Resources liaison for your department or contact the
Human Resources Department at 844-4145 or send an email to the
Classification and Project Team by using the link
in this website.
22. Should the job description for my position describe the specific
work I perform in my department?
The job description may not necessarily describe the specific work you
do in your department but it should, in general terms, describe the work
you perform. The work you perform in your department may be unique to
your department yet the work might be similar in nature to work
performed by another employee in a different department. For example, a
responsibility statement from a job description for a Research Associate
might say “conducts non-routine experiments, investigations, and/or
studies related to programs and projects in pursuit of new knowledge,
techniques, and concepts.” However, a research Assistant in Anatomy,
Physiology, and Pharmacology may describe his or her work by saying
“processes tissue samples in an appropriate manner, contingent on the
microscopic techniques planned for inspection.” This person is
describing the specific research he or she is performing in the
department, but the job description for the position describes the work
in broader terms because it describes work for all Research Associates
rather than the work of just one individual.
A job description describes only the most important features of a job
but it may not describe individual specific duties related to a specific
position; therefore, the job description may not perfectly describe all
details of your individual position.
23. What is the purpose of each employee and supervisor reviewing the
draft job descriptions?
It is possible that some individuals may have different duties now than
when they completed the original questionnaire. We realize that some
organizational units have restructured since the questionnaires were
completed resulting in some employees responsible for work that may be
different than explained on their original questionnaire. The purpose of
reviewing the draft job description is to ensure that you and
your supervisor are in agreement that the description does, in broad
terms, represent the work you are performing.
24. I have moved to a different job since I completed my
questionnaire. Will I receive a job description for the position I am
working in now or will the job description be for the position I held
when I completed the questionnaire?
When we started the project we realized that some employees might
transfer, terminate, etc. from the time of completing the questionnaire
until the project is completed, so we have tracked questionnaires using
position numbers rather than names. You should receive a job description
for the position you currently occupy which could be different than the
position occupied when the questionnaire was completed. If you are a new
employee or recently moved to your current position, you will receive a
job description based upon the questionnaire responses received from the
person working in the position at the time the questionnaire was
25. How will the new job descriptions be used with the new
Performance Management System?
See our Performance Management Website for information about the new
Performance Management System.
26. Why don’t the draft job descriptions sent to employees contain other
information such as job titles, qualifications, salary grade?
At this point in the project we have written a first draft of job
descriptions but there are additional steps that must be completed
before we will have other information such as job titles and salary
27. What is the code on the
job description and what is it used for?
The code is simply a unique identifier that distinguishes one job from
another by using a code rather than a title. Our current job descriptions which
can be found on the Human Resources website use a six digit job classification
code. The code that is on the new job description serves the same purpose but
uses an alpha-numeric system rather than just a numeric system. The codes are
used to help separate jobs into similar groupings but the code does not, in any
manner, signify a salary grade or salary range.
28. There seems to be a lot of job duties that have been left out of the job
description that I received. Why doesn’t the job description describe the
specific work that I do.
Job descriptions are written in broad terms to describe the general nature
and level of work performed; it does not necessarily describe the specific work
performed by one individual. Its purpose is to describe, in general terms, the
work performed by employees doing work similar in nature. Specific work for a
position will vary from one position to another but the purpose of a job
description is to capture the nature of similar work, not necessarily individual
specific tasks. For example, an administrative support person might describe a
duty as “maintain records of students” Someone else might say that they
“maintain files for the head of the department”. Both of these individual duties
could be described in a job description as “maintain files and records” or
“performs multiple duties which are a mix of administrative and clerical in
29. I work in an administrative support job and have noticed that my job
description is the same job description as another person who works in a
different department. Why is that job description the same as mine?
If the job duties are generally the same it would be appropriate for the job
description to be the same for different individuals. The purpose of a job
description is to provide a way to classify all workers doing similar work into
the same job, which helps ensure those workers have equal pay opportunities. If
there were separate job descriptions for every department, it would be almost
impossible to make sure everyone doing the same work was assigned to the same
pay grade. By keeping job descriptions simple and general, it reduces the number
of jobs to be graded, which helps reduce the risk of unequal pay practices.
Unless the position is significantly different from another position, it should
be classified the same and have the same job description, regardless of
30. If job descriptions are broad in nature how am I recognized for the
individual tasks that I perform?
The new performance management
system is designed to allow the supervisor and employee to identify specific job
duties and to establish performance planning and performance measurement around
such position specific duties. The old performance appraisal system was tied
directly to a job description which may not describe the specific work performed
by the individual. Job descriptions are still written in broad terms, as they
are in other organizations, but the new performance management system now allows
the flexibility to set performance planning around position specific duties. See
our new website on Performance Management for additional information on the new
Performance Management System.
31. In the new system why are so many of
the administrative support jobs grouped into only a few job titles?
similar work have been placed into the same job. In the old system
there were many different jobs titles for administrative support work;
however, although job titles were different, the work was similar. The
Classification Project Team reviewed hundreds of job questionnaires from
administrative support positions and found commonality among many of the
positions; therefore, many of the positions have been placed into the
same job. The purpose of a job description is to describe the work
being performed in broad terms; it does not describe each individual
duty performed by each individual employee in a job. There are many
positions in the administrative support jobs that perform similar broad
responsibilities although individual tasks may vary.
32. What should I do
if I do not think I have been appropriately classified?
An appeals process has
been established to review concerns. Please see the link to the appeals
process and follow the instructions. See the section on the website
titled “Appeals Process” for more information.
33. Why isn’t
everyone receiving a pay increase?
The purpose of the
project was to ensure similar work is placed into the same job and to
better align our salary ranges with the market. The salary range is the
value of the job to the organization. Auburn University used a
combination of market information and internal evaluation factors to
determine the appropriate salary range. If a person is paid within the
salary range for the job then no salary adjustment is needed. Employees
who are paid below the salary range minimum will be brought up to the
minimum of the new range at the beginning of the fiscal year (provided
funding is available). With any new system there may be salary issues
that may need to be addressed. Such issues will be reviewed and
appropriate adjustments made as we transition into this new system over
the next several years.
34. I know of
organizations that pay a higher salary for similar work than I am
receiving at Auburn so why do we say that our ranges are aligned with
It is always possible
to find an organization that pays a higher salary for any particular
job. But it is also as likely to find many organizations that pay less.
Our salary ranges are established according to the average so you
are going to find organizations that pay higher and others that pay
Also, when we think of
the value of a job we should consider the overall total rewards
received, which would include benefits as well as a salary. A person’s
pay is just one of the many benefits of working for Auburn University.
The University has an excellent total rewards package that includes a
very generous leave policy, a retirement plan, savings plans, health
insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, etc. Very
few organizations can match the overall total rewards that one receives
from Auburn University.
35. I am not
satisfied with my job title. I hear the term “working title” used.
What is a “working title” and when can one use a working title?
The university assigns
official titles to jobs. These are the titles that are used in our
system to identify positions doing similar work. Working titles are
titles that may more appropriately provide clarity for job postings or
convey a message to the outside world of the work performed. Working
titles are permitted if it is needed for the purposes stated above and
as long as the working title does not misrepresent the authority or the
function of the position.
36. If my salary is
below the minimum of the salary range, why must I wait until October 1,
2007 to have my salary adjusted up to the minimum of the range?
Any salary adjustment
is contingent upon the availability of funding. The budget for this
fiscal year is in place, so salary adjustments must now coincide with
the beginning of the new fiscal year (if funding is available).
37. The request for
job family promotions to be effective October 1, 2007 must be submitted
by March 1, 2007. How does the implementation of the new system affect
the job family promotion requests submitted by March 1, 2007?
Job family promotions
received by March 1, 2007 will follow normal guidelines and procedures
that have previously been in effect for job family promotions. The
implementation of the new system will not affect the eligibility of any
job family for such requests. Requests for job family promotions this
year should be submitted using the guidelines and criteria established
for the job the person held prior to implementation of the new
38. My salary is
above the maximum of the salary range. Will I still be eligible for
Yes, although a person
is above the maximum of a salary range, he/she will be eligible for
salary adjustments. Further guidelines and procedures regarding salary
adjustments will be outlined in the budget guidelines published each