Teams submit draft recommendations; feedback sought

A compensation system that is more driven by market and performance factors, a more flexible hiring system, realigning vacation and sick leave into a single system, and redefining the academic staff employee category are among the first draft recommendations from the teams working on the HR Design project.

The project structure includes 11 work teams – seven in phase 1 and four in phase 2. The work teams are composed of more than 150 employees and include representatives from governance and employee groups, the HR community, and students.

The seven phase 1 teams today released their initial draft recommendations for improving the campus personnel system.

UW–Madison Human Resources Director Bob Lavigna says the preliminary recommendations from the phase 1 teams are the initial products of the work teams, and will be subject to adjustments as the HR Design project continues.

“We are grateful to the work teams for their commitment and hard work on this project. They have met their responsibilities with great dedication and diligence,” Lavigna, the project lead, says. “These draft recommendations on the conceptual design of the new system are a starting point for a campus-wide conversation on these proposals. Through dialog and engagement with the entire campus community, the work teams will refine their recommendations before submitting final drafts next month.”

The final recommendations will then undergo intensive review during the summer and into the fall by the HR Design Advisory Committee, other campus stakeholders (including governance groups) and university leadership.

Then, in the fall, the proposals will be submitted to the Board of Regents and then to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations.

Among the major ideas proposed in the draft recommendations is the Employee Categories work team’s suggestion to combine current academic and classified staff into a single academic staff category. The recommendation is a response to widespread feedback work team members received about the perception of a caste system among campus employees. This recommendation will likely generate lively discussion on campus.

The recommendation redefines academic staff to include all non-faculty employees whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the university by providing professional and operational services.

The other five employee categories proposed by the work team retain existing categories, with some name changes. The other proposed categories are executive-at-will (replacing the current “limited” employee category), faculty, post-degree training (replacing the current employee-in-training category), student hourly and student assistant.

Another shift from current personnel policy is the recommendation to adopt a single leave system for all eligible, non-student employees. The Benefits work team offered the recommendation because of its potential to create a more equitable and easily manageable campus-wide system. The benefits team is also recommending new benefits programs, such as parental leave.

Using pay rates at peer institutions and local and regional employers as guidelines for pay levels at the university is one of the compensation work team’s recommendations. The team also recommends a compensation system that emphasizes performance as a driver for raises or other pay adjustments, but the team acknowledges such a system must be accompanied by an effective performance management/evaluation process.

The Recruitment and Assessment work team is recommending that the university develop a comprehensive process for internal recruitment that would allow units to consider current employees for promotions and lateral movements.

The team also recommends a campus-wide direct hire process that, under special circumstances, would allow hiring without competition. For applicant assessment, the team has endorsed creating an assessment toolkit that provides work units the flexibility to use a variety of tools to fairly and effectively evaluate candidates.

Members of the campus community are encouraged to offer their feedback on the recommendations through a variety of forums, starting with a pair of hour-long web chats on Wednesday and Thursday.

The focus of the Wednesday chat will be the recommendations of the Employee Categories, Benefits, Recruitment and Assessment, and Diverse Workforce teams. The Thursday chat focuses on the recommendations of the Compensation, Competencies, and Titling teams.

The Wednesday chat begins at 10 a.m., and the Thursday chat starts at 1:30 p.m. For more information, go to Users can log on to the chats while they’re live, ask questions or simply watch. Full transcripts are also available immediately afterward.

Two campus engagement events are set for the following week: at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17 at Union South, and at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19 at the Health Sciences Learning Center. The format for these events will be a brief large-group presentation outlining the recommendations, followed by breakout, small-group feedback sessions in which employees can voice their ideas about the recommendations.

Four phase 2 work teams will release their draft recommendations in early May. The phase 2 teams’ final recommendations will come in June.