Job classifying project set to finish late July

Youssef Rddad

The University of Minnesota’s years-long job reclassification project is nearing completion, but some employees are unhappy with the new system so far.
 
Officials are reclassifying thousands of University employees’ job descriptions and titles in an effort to provide more transparent pay structures and career paths for employees across all five system campuses, whose positions some say were disorganized and inefficient. Some of those employees who have already seen changes are voicing concern.
 
The Job Family Studies, which began two years ago after a Wall Street Journal article pointed to the University’s decade-long “spending spree” on administrative positions, will likely be complete next month.
 
Although the Office of Human Resources and human resources consulting firm Sibson Consulting have completed 16 of 18 job family reclassifications, though reclassifications for civil service staff and non-faculty, nonunionized staff have yet to be finished.
 
The effort will rename jobs, update their descriptions and give them a salary range that matches similar jobs outside the University.
 
The study is also intended to provide clearer career paths for employees by making the hierarchy simpler and easier to follow, said Sheila Reger, a University human resources consultant manager.
 
“It’s important for our employees to have a structure to help them to navigate around the University for their careers,” Reger said. 
 
The new job classifications will affect some employees’ pay. If an employee’s pay falls below the salary range for the new job group, the salary will be increased to the bottom of the range. If the individual salary is above, the employee will be allowed to retain that salary for three years to allow for market rates to catch up. If the employee’s pay is still more than the market rate after three years, the pay will be cut.
 
One of the issues with the former system was that an employee’s most commonly used job title, like chief of staff, would sometimes be different from his or her official classification, said Katherine Dowd, Chair of the P&A Consultative Committee. 
 
Another issue, she said, was that it sometimes wasn’t clear how similarly-named positions, like assistant and associate, were in fact different.
 
Nancee Nichols, a nurse at the Masonic Cancer Center, said the already-completed classifications for health care workers are “disrespectful” to nurses because they list the position as a patient care professionals rather than a nurse.
 
“I’m a registered nurse. I worked hard to get that nursing degree, and I want it mentioned in my job description,” Nichols said.
 
When Nichols saw that her new job title and description didn’t mention being a nurse, she said, she decided to file an appeal to the administrators in charge of the study.
 
“I think there’s always a worry that you might be classified lower than what you possibly should,” Dowd said.
 
Nichols also said she is upset that she was unable to give any input while her job was being reclassified.
 
“I was just told what my job description would be,” Nichols said.
 
She said she is not optimistic her appeal will change her job description or title.
 
Reger said employees can review their positions after six months if their duties and responsibilities change as a result of the reclassification. The commonly used, working job titles, in Nichols case, would not change.
 
“RNs will continue to be referred to using their current title. The day-to-day title that people use, called working or signature titles in our system, will remain the
same so people don’t need to [get] new business cards or to change their email signatures,” Reger said.