New job classifications employed on campus

Sarah Hallonquist

A new development in the University’s Job Center makes it easier for campus employers to do what they’re supposed to — create jobs and hire employees.
The Broadbanded Student Employment System, implemented this month, is an overhaul of the University’s job classification system for undergraduate positions. For decades the school’s Department of Human Resources and Industrial Relations has used the civil service classification for its 6,500 student jobs, which consists of 240 job categories, a variety of broad, overlapping pay scales and rigid criteria for promotions and raises.
Broadbanding replaces the classification system with 11 job families and relinquishes the determination of job descriptions, pay scales and promotion guidelines to an individual department’s hiring authorities. This allows more flexibility in job creation, which University employers seem to like.
“We don’t have to fit something that’s pre-existing, which may not exactly cover what we need,” said Karen Lovro, associate administrator in the Department of Recreational Sports.
“We’d usually get hung up somewhere between here and student employment because they would try to redefine the job to fit classifications that were out there,” she said.
Lovro’s department was one of the testing grounds used in the broadbanding pilot project this fall. Human resources officials trained recreational sports managers in the program, and the department used broadbanding for three months.
Lovro said the transition into student broadbanding went smoothly and resulted in less paperwork and faster job posting. The department remained in the program through the entire University’s transfer to student broadbanding this month.
Students already employed might notice a difference in job mobility and pay increases because departments can base promotions on merit rather than length of employment or hours accrued. However, most student workers will not experience an immediate difference in pay, except where departments raised their bottom pay rate. The University’s $6.50 minimum wage was not affected by the program.
When the program was reviewed by the Student Employment Committee in October, members expressed concern over student wages because departments are no longer bound to use the civil service pay scales.
Heidi Thorson, the committee’s chairwoman, said there is always a risk of students being taken advantage of if pay rates are not monitored. After voicing their concerns, however, the committee was told University officials would continually research outside market information to keep their wages competitive.
Overall, Thorson said the committee supports the project. “It’s going to be a lot less bureaucratic than the system we have now,” she said.
Roger Forrester, director of the University Job Center, said the decentralized approach has been tried at other Big Ten schools, such as Iowa and Michigan state universities.
“This isn’t a totally new concept; we did our homework before, and a lot of other schools have done this quite successfully,” he said.
Broadbanding is only the first step in a series of programs designed to streamline job creation, hiring, employee compensation and termination procedures. In July, the second half of the pre-employment project will be in place, which will restructure hiring and screening processes.