|Classification and Compensation Project News and Updates
Classification Appeals Process
Upon implementation of
the new classification system in April 2007, an appeals process was put
in place for those employees who did not agree with their classification
decision. Two appeals committees were created to review each appeal.
One committee reviewed appeals from employees in administrative support
jobs; the other committee reviewed any appeal from any other job on
campus. Each committee was comprised of a combination of employees from
Auburn University and people outside the University who have expertise
in classification and compensation work. No one who served on either
committee served on the original project team.
Each of the two
committees has been meeting on a regular basis since May. Prior to each
meeting, members of each committee carefully reviewed and confirmed all
available information concerning each appeal and compared the duties and
responsibilities listed in each appeal with the duties and
responsibilities in related jobs. Then, during the meeting, members of
the committee would hold an open discussion of the merits of the
appeal. Reviewing the appeals was a very time-consuming process and
employees within the university found themselves spending many extra
hours each week reviewing the appeal’s information in preparation for
the discussion in the upcoming meeting. The decision to place position
into a particular job in the new classification system was based upon
the process of a job-based structure. A job-based structure looks at
the duties and accountabilities of the job, but does not look at the
competencies or performance of the individual employee. Throughout the
process, the appeals committees focused on the responsibilities of the
job, not the performance of the individual holder of the position.
There were a number of
employees who appealed the level within a job family to which they were
assigned. The guidelines for the appeals process specifically stated
that an appeal would not be considered if it was based on the assignment
to a level within a job family; therefore, appeals pertaining to job
family level assignments were not considered. The brochure,
“Understanding Your Compensation at Auburn University” explains that
assignment to a job family level was based on one of two methods.
- Employees in a job
family who moved into a job family with the same number of levels were
“mapped” over to the same level they were in. For example, employees
who were in a three level job family in the old system and were moved
into a three level job family in the new system were moved laterally.
- Employees who were
moved into a job family for the first time or were moved into a job
family with a different number of levels than their previous job
family were placed into the new job family based on their salary.
Assignment to a
particular level within a job family was not based upon experience, job
performance, or individual competencies.
The appeals committees
have now concluded their meetings. Letters are now being prepared to all
appellants explaining the findings of the committees. Two copies of the
letter are also being prepared; one for the employee’s supervisor and
one each HR Liaison to share with appropriate management official(s) of
the organizational unit. These letters should be distributed within a
Classification Appeals Committee
Upon implementation of the new classification and compensation system in
April 2007 a classification appeals process was established for those
employees who may have questioned the appropriateness of their new job
assignment. The appeals process permits an employee to seek
reconsideration of his/her job assignment before a Classification
Appeals Committee. Employees had until April 30 to submit an appeal.
Two separate appeals committees were established; one to review all
appeals associated with administrative support jobs and the other
committee to review all other jobs. Having two committees serves two
purposes. It allowed each committee to be staffed with people who have
particular familiarity with the jobs they are reviewing and it results
in expediting the review process. Each of the two committees is
comprised of a combination of employees from Auburn University and
people outside the university who have expertise in classification and
compensation work. No one who was on the original classification project
team is serving on either committee.
Reviewing each appeal is a time-consuming process and employees from
within the university are spending many extra hours reviewing the
appeals information in preparation for the appeals discussions that take
place with each meeting. The committees have been meetings on a regular
basis since May but it is still expected that they will meet throughout
the summer before the process is completed.
Once the committees have reviewed all appeals, each employee who filed
an appeal, along with his/her supervisor, will be notified of the
New Classification System to be Rolled Out
The new classification and compensation
system is scheduled to be rolled out in the spring of 2007. The rollout
process will involve several steps:
step in the process is to ensure that supervisors have received training
and information about the new program. Our process to do this will be
to conduct a “live” training session, during the first week of February,
with approximately 30 participants and have this “live” session
videotaped and made available for supervisors to view via our website.
This method will result in making this important information available
to all supervisors in a very short period of time. We have over 800
supervisors on the Auburn campus so it is not possible to conduct
one-on-one meetings with such a large number of supervisors in a short
period of time. Supervisors are expected to view this training to
prepare for the meetings they will hold with their employees. The web
training will consist not only of the “live” training session but will
also provide other important information such as new job family
guidelines, salary administration guidelines and definitions to
frequently used terms.
The web-based training program will prepare
supervisors for the next step in the rollout, employee notification.
During the month of March 2007, Human Resources will deliver
personalized statements for each employee to the departments for
distribution. After a supervisor has reviewed the training information,
the supervisor will discuss this “personalized statement” with each
employee. These statements will show the new job title, salary grade,
salary range, and job description for the position held by the
who believe that they have not been properly classified will have an
opportunity to file an appeal. Each appeal will be reviewed by an
appeals committee who will review the appeal, decide upon the merits of
the appeal and notify the employee of their findings and conclusion.
(see Appeals Process elsewhere on this website for further information).
Any time a new system
is introduced, particularly one as large and complex as this, there will
be questions and concerns. Please be assured that Human Resources will
investigate and respond to any questions or concerns that may be raised
by employees as they learn about the new system.
Features of the New
descriptions now have a consistent and “easy to read” format. Job
descriptions now contain all pertinent information directly on the job
description document rather than having to look at a number of different
sources to determine the salary grade, the salary range, whether the job
is in a job family, etc. The top section of the new job descriptions
shows the job title, job code, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) status,
salary grade, salary range and whether or not the job is in a job
- The job title is the
new job title for the position held by the employee. The job title for
some positions (not all) is changing, therefore, the new title may be
different or it may be the same title as the employee holds in his/her
current job. The new job titles were assigned based on “job title
guidelines” established with the assistance of an outside consultant.
The purpose of these guidelines is to provide greater consistency in
the assignment of job titles.
- The job code on the
job description is simply a unique alpha-numeric identifier that is
needed for the database system. Each job has two letters, followed by
two numbers, and, if the job is in a job family, has a final letter.
The letter at the end of the code identifies the level of the job in
the job family. For example, KB05 is the code for
Manager, Student Loans. It does not have a letter at the end of the
title since the job is not in a job family. The job code for
Accountant, Central, Level I is KA07a. The last letter of the job
code is “a”, which identifies it as the first level of the job
family. The letter “b” would identify it as the second level of the
- The FLSA status
identifies the job as either exempt or non-exempt. Jobs are
classified as either exempt or non-exempt based upon criteria set
forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act. At Auburn University, we
commonly refer to exempt jobs at Administrative/Professional and
non-exempt jobs as University Staff.
- The salary grade is
the assigned salary grade in the new system. The new salary structure
has 19 salary grades and is numbered grades 24 – 42. Our old
structure had salary grades 1-23 so the new structure starts at number
24 to avoid confusion with the old system.
- The salary range is
the minimum and the maximum value for that particular job.
- If the job is in a
job family, the job description will show all levels of the job family
and a salary grade and salary range for each level of the job family.
The style and
presentation of the new job description follow guidelines of standard
human resource practices. The purpose of a job description is to
summarize, in broad terms, the responsibilities and minimum
qualification of the position and is used to create a common
understanding of the essential functions of the job. A job description
is not intended to list each specific duty performed, or that
could be performed, by each individual in the job. Job descriptions are
purposely written in short, easily understood sentences; therefore, many
job descriptions may appear short in length. But the length of a job
description does not indicate its importance or the value of the job to
Another key feature of the new system is a
new salary structure that is aligned with the market. On behalf of
Auburn University, our consultants for this project, Hewitt and
Associates, conducted salary surveys to establish the market value of
certain “benchmark” jobs within the appropriate external market. The
appropriate market is determined mainly by determining the recruitment
area for a particular job; where we recruit for new employees and where
current employees go to work when they leave. Then, using a combination
of external market information and internal job evaluation factors, the
appropriate salary grade and corresponding salary range for each job is
determined. The end result is that jobs are placed into salary ranges
that are competitive with the appropriate market.
Placed Into Same Job
One of the
primary goals of the new system was to place individual positions doing
comparable work into the same job. We have not had a major review of
our positions for over 12 years. Over that period of time, many new
jobs have been created while many old jobs titles and job descriptions
were retained. At the beginning of this project, there were over 1300
job titles with corresponding job descriptions that, in many cases, did
not appropriately describe the work being performed. The number of job
titles has been greatly reduced and positions doing similar work have
been placed into the same job.
family is defined as a series of progressively higher, related jobs
distinguished by levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities
(competencies) and other factors and providing promotional opportunities
over time. There are numerous changes to job families with the new
system. Many more jobs are in a job family. Also, there is more
consistency in the number of levels within job families performing
similar work and the salary ranges for job family levels are more
reflective of the market, resulting in some job families having more
levels than in the past, while others may have fewer levels. Although we
have expanded the number of jobs in job families, there are still many
jobs that are not in job families. Two of the most misunderstood
features of a job family are that all jobs in the university should be
in a job family and job families should provide unlimited promotional
opportunities. The external market helps define whether a particular job
should be placed into a job family and also the number of levels for the
job family and the value of the job. For example, it is quite common
to find various levels for an Accountant in the market because an
Accountant typically acquires more competencies and knowledge of the job
over an extended period of time. On the other hand, some jobs are very
routine while others require extensive experience and specific
competencies prior to being placed in the job. The value of such jobs
is typically more narrowly defined; therefore, such jobs are not placed
in job families.
system also provides guidelines and criteria that must be satisfied for
a person to qualify for a job family promotion. These guidelines are
designed to ensure greater consistency in the criteria that must be
satisfied before a person is eligible for promotion. The guidelines are
also designed to enhance communications between an employee and
supervisor about career plans and career development.
(See the section on the
website titled “Job Family Guidelines” for more information)
Placement into a Job
In the new system, there are many employees
moving into a job family for the first time; others are moving from one
job family to a different job family. The new salary structure has very
broad salary ranges which, in some cases, resulted in a job family
having fewer or more levels than in the old system. Of course, even a
person staying in the same job family, at the same level, will see a
change to the salary ranges associated with the job family. Each person
placed into a job family was also placed into a level within that job
Employees were placed into a level within a
job family using one of two methods.
Employees currently in a
job/job family with more than one level who are moving to a job family
with the same number of levels will be mapped over to the same level
they are in currently. This method results in the employee retaining
the job level previously earned. For example, the job of Accountant
currently has three levels – Accountant I, Accountant II, and Accountant
III and will have three levels in the new system; therefore, employees
will be mapped over into the job in the new system as the same level as
they are in currently.
Employees moving into a job
family for the first time or moving into a job family with a different
number of levels than they are in currently, will be placed into the new
job family level based on their salary, in relation to the midpoint of
the salary ranges for corresponding salary grades of the job family.
For example, assume job A is in a job family that has 3 levels, at
salary grades 29, 30, and 31. Salary grade 29 has a midpoint of
$32,700, salary grade 30 has a midpoint of $36,600, and salary grade 31
has a midpoint of $40,900. A person with a salary of $31,000 would be
placed in Level I, salary grade 29, because his/her salary is below the
midpoint of salary grade 29 which is $32, 700. A person with a salary
of $34,000 would be placed in Level II, salary grade 30, because his/her
salary of $34,000 is above the midpoint of grade 29 ($32,700) but below
the midpoint of salary grade 30 ($36,600).
Emphasis on Career
classification system is designed to enhance communications and planning
about a person’s career goals. This is accomplished through the new job
descriptions and the new performance management process. The new job
descriptions are designed to improve an understanding of the criteria
needed to promote to higher levels in a job family. Jobs within a job
family have a section within the job description that describe the
general criteria that must be satisfied to advance to each level within
a job family. This “one stop” description ensures that a person can
easily see the general criteria that are necessary to promote through
each level of the job family as well as the salary range for each
level. Additional criteria, performance standards, and development
activities that are needed for promotion can be established by
The new Performance Management Process is
designed to enhance communications and planning of career development
and professional growth including a greater emphasis for an employee
taking personal responsibility for his/her performance, development
activities and career.
the new Performance Management Process was introduced last year, it is
an integral part of the overall classification and compensation
project. The old performance planning and performance management system
was “hard wired” into job descriptions written to describe the work of
numerous positions. As a result, many employees did not feel they were
being appraised on the actual work being performed. The new system
permits the supervisor and employee to establish performance
expectations based on the specific duties of the individual position.
performance management process was designed to put into practice our
compensation philosophy which includes a “pay for performance”
philosophy. In the future more emphasis will be placed upon ensuring
employees understand the performance management process, and on
supervisors in completing an appraisal each year.
An Inclusive Process
classification project was designed to ensure and reflect an inclusive
process, whereby all employees had input. The first phase of this
project included meeting with focus groups where employees had an
opportunity to tell us what they liked and disliked about the previous
system. The new system reflects improvements that originated from many
of the comments and concerns that we heard from employees during these
Typically, classification projects completed
by other organizations gather job data from only a sampling of
employees. This project gathered job information from each employee
affected by this project. Once the information was gathered from each
individual, via the job questionnaire, the information was reviewed by
each person’s supervisor who, in turn, had an opportunity to add
comments. The information was then reviewed by a second level of
management who also had an opportunity to add comments.
Draft job descriptions were written and
distributed to employees who were asked to provide any additional
comments they felt were appropriate. This information was again
reviewed by the supervisor prior to being submitted to the
Classification Project Team. This reviewed product was used to write
the final job descriptions and to place positions performing similar
work into a common job and job title.
These additional steps ensured an inclusive
process but resulted in the project taking longer than expected.
Although it has been a long process, the time taken to be inclusive does
ensure that each employee and his/her supervisor had an opportunity to
provide information about the work being performed.
Undoubtedly, even with all of these efforts
at inclusion, some employees will not be satisfied with the results. An
appeals process has been established to handle such concerns.
forward, the new system will follow a process of position management
to ensure there is proper documentation for each position describing
the work being performed in each individual position. Any request to
reclassify a position or to create a new position must be accompanied by
a position questionnaire describing the responsibilities of the
position. This process will better ensure that each position is properly
classified in the new system.
Other Policy Changes
changes that will take place with the implementation of the new system
involve shift differential and salary increases for promotions.
The University will implement
a shift differential policy. Employees will be eligible for a shift
differential of 10% if “four hours or more of the regularly scheduled
assigned shift are scheduled after 3:00 p.m. and before 7:00 a.m.” See
the section on the website titled “Shift Differential” for more
Under the new system there
will be a difference between a promotional increase for a job family
promotion versus a promotional increase when a person assumes an
entirely different job. Effective October 1, 2008 a promotional
increase for job family promotions will be up to 5% per salary grade. A
promotion that occurs when an employee moves from a job in one grade to
an entirely different job in a higher grade will receive a pay
adjustment of up to 8% of salary per salary grade. In either case, all
employees will be paid a rate equal to at least the minimum of the range
for the new job.
are descriptions of the education, training, work experience,
certifications or special qualifications that a person must possess to
qualify for entry to a job. The minimum qualifications in the new job
description are written to screen out only those applicants that are
obviously not fit for the job. They are not intended to differentiate
between the best qualified candidate and a less qualified candidate.
Minimum qualifications for jobs are now more consistent for those jobs
performing work of a similar level.. Minimum qualifications should not
be confused with qualification of a “best qualified” candidate. Many
people may meet the minimum qualifications for a job yet those
individuals may not be the best qualified for the job.
There have been
numerous changes to job titles and paths of career progression within
the administrative support jobs. One of the most significant changes
is the fact that there will be fewer job titles than in the past.
Through the job documentation/job classification phase of this project
we found many employees performing similar work of an administrative
support nature with the only difference being that it was performed in
different departments. Work of a similar nature, although performed in a
different department, is now classified in the same job.
The majority of
employees performing administrative support work have been placed into
one of three classifications: Administrative Support Assistant,
Administrative Support Associate, or Administrative Support Specialist.
These job titles are further defined by a designation of College/School
or ACES/AAES or working in an administrative unit of the University.
Assignment into these jobs is based upon the type and level of work
performed in the individual position. In the past, academic departments
were restricted to having only one Office Administrator per department.
With the new system, although there are new titles, no department is
restricted in such a manner. Other jobs, more specialized in nature
than the three job titles described above, also exist in the new system
and provide additional opportunities for career progression. Listed
below are job titles, along with a brief summary of some of the jobs now
found in the administrative support job group:
Performs a variety of
office support duties within an office or department.
administrative, financial, and general clerical support within a
department or program with responsibility for a broad variety of office
support duties and tasks.
Provides varied and
high level administrative and technical support to a department with
significant emphasis on more complex administrative responsibilities.
Serves as executive
support assistant in the office of a Dean, Assoc VP, Asst VP, or similar
level job to oversee and coordinate complex administrative operations
while exercising a high degree of discretionary authority ( similar
level jobs include Asst Provost, Sr. Assoc Athletic Director, Asst/Assoc
Dir ACES, Head Football Coach, Head Basketball Coach).
Performs a variety of
high level and complex administrative support duties and acts as Lead
administrative position in a department with multiple administrative
Serves as Executive
Support Specialist for a Vice President or Associate Provost or similar
job and performs administrative work relating to management of complex
event/meetings or projects or other areas involving significant
decision-making authority (similar jobs within the university are
Athletic Director, Director of AAES, and Director of ACES).
Performs a variety of
administrative support duties and is responsible for full supervision of
administrative support employees.
support within a school/college or administrative unit to consolidate
financial and business operations forwarded from various internal
Reports directly to an
Academic Dean and performs administrative work relating to management of
human resources, complex meetings, projects, or others areas involving
significant decision-making authority.
to Executive Vice President
Reports directly to the
Executive Vice President and provides assistance in the administration
of the office which includes significant authority and decision making
Reports directly to the
Provost and performs administrative work relating to events, meetings,
or other areas involving significant decision–making authority.
assistance to the General Counsel, Special Counsel to the President, and
University Counsel and performs administrative work relating to
preparation of legal materials for the Board of Trustees, President, and
other administrators within the University.
Reports directly to an
Academic Dean and performs administrative work relating to management
and analysis of budgets and financial administration, purchasing,
complex event/meetings or projects or other areas involving
Reports to a Dean and
provides professional budgeting and managerial expertise
for academic school
operations including a combination of management of human resources,
purchasing, complex events/meetings or projects, and management of
budgetary and financial functions.
Reports to a Dean and
provides professional budgeting and managerial expertise for academic
college operations including a combination of management of human
resources, purchasing, complex events/meetings or projects, and
management of budgetary and financial functions.
to Board Secretary
Provides varied and
high level administrative and technical support to the Board Secretary,
with significant emphasis on more complex administrative
responsibilities or functions.
Provides varied and
high level administrative support to the President.
JOB DESCRIPTION REVISIONS
March 2006, draft job descriptions were distributed to university staff
and administrative/professional employees who had completed a position
questionnaire. Each employee was asked to review the job description to
determine if the description described, in general terms, the work
performed by the person. If the job description did not describe, in
general terms, what a person does, the person was asked to provide
written comments describing how the job is different from the work
described in the job description. The vast majority of employees did
feel the job description properly described their work; however, we did
receive comments from hundreds of employees suggesting revisions. We
have been reviewing these comments to decide if changes are needed to
the job description.
We have found that
comments submitted by the majority of people pertained to the person’s
individual position rather than the job. 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. The purpose of a job description is to describe, in
general terms, the work performed by employees doing work that is
similar in nature. A job description that does not contain language
specific to an individual employee position does not diminish the value
of the job.
Indeed, we have found
instances where comments submitted by employees did lead to revisions of
a job description and, in some cases, resulted in a person being moved
to a different job. However, most comments we received pertained to an
individual position and, therefore, would not mean that a change to the
job description is needed. For example, we received comments from
varioul">Upon review by the
employee, the job description should be forwarded to the immediate
supervisor for additional review and comment. If there are no comments
or suggested edits to the job descriptions, no further action will be
required by the supervisor. If either the employee or supervisor
suggests changes to the job description, the supervisor should forward
the edited job description to University Human Resources for
consideration as job descriptions are finalized. Supervisors will be
notified prior to distribution of job descriptions to employees so that
they can be prepared to receive and review job descriptions for their
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IMPLEMENTED JANUARY 1
On January 1, 2006, Auburn University implemented a new performance
management system developed as a component of the compensation and
classification project. Supervisory training on use of the new system
has now been completed, and supervisors have been asked to familiarize
their respective employees on the new system and how it will impact
them. We have also developed a new Performance Management
website to help employees understand the new system, including new
“frequently asked questions.” The website also provides the new forms
along with sections containing additional information for supervisors
and employees. The Performance Management website can be found