Jobs study may mean higher pay

A reclassification effort will raise wages for many employees.

Fernando Nunez

In attempts to boost transparency about how jobs are classified at the University of Minnesota, the school is switching up its policies.

The Office of Human Resources is now working with Sibson Consulting to redesign the University’s job descriptions, pay grades and possible career paths for employees, which some faculty and staff leaders say is a step in the right direction.

“It is difficult to figure out what some employees do by looking at their job title, so this initiative goes a long way towards clarifying these things,” said William Durfee, chair of the Faculty Senate’s Consultative Committee.

A total of 20 job families — from information technology to athletics to alumni relations — are up for review. Officials expect the reclassification to be complete by the end of this year.

OHR Consulting Manager Sheila Reger said the salaries of employees making less than the current market rate will increase, costing nearly $450,000.

If a University employee makes more than the current market rate — about 2 percent of staff, Reger said — their salary will be frozen for three years. If the market hasn’t caught up with those employees’ salaries after that time, Reger said, their pay will be cut.

After those three years, Reger said further salary adjustments from the reclassification are expected to cost $65,000. The reclassification effort marks an improvement in University policy, Reger said.

“The results of the study will create career paths for employees that are clearly defined; we will have job titles that are more meaningful, and we will have up-to-date market salary ranges assigned to each of those jobs’ classifications,” she said.

Academic Professionals and Administrators Senate Chair Cynthia Murdoch said employees represented by the senate are often lumped together with administrators, which she said is inaccurate.

“There’s been a push from the public to reduce the amount of administrators, so this is one way to make clear to people that we are not all just paper pushers,” she said.

Reger said the University had been studying how to reclassify certain job families, but that study was expedited last fall when Sibson joined. The firm was hired to speed up the process and analyze salary market rates.

The University is implementing reclassification at staggered dates for different job families.

After each job family is reviewed, OHR is holding informational sessions to answer employees’ questions. Reger said that after these meetings, the University will consider feedback and implement changes for the job family.

Some see the reclassification as a positive move, but Cherrene Horazuk, president of the University of Minnesota Clerical Workers union, said there’s concern that some jobs might be classified incorrectly.

After jobs are reclassified, Horazuk said, it’s possible some should be union-represented that won’t be. But for now, many of the reclassified positions will be union jobs.

Barbara Bezat, president of the University’s technical employees’ union, said the unionization issue is a “thorny” problem.

“We think there’s going to be some points of disagreement with their job family studies,” she said.

Reger said OHR hasn’t heard from unions about any concerns with the reclassification.