As David DeJong, vice chancellor for human resources, facilitated the Office of Human Resources’ (OHR) Shaping the Workplace initiative sessions in January and February, he saw common themes emerge around expected topics like benefits and the performance appraisal process.
DeJong spoke about those themes, presenting initial findings from the engagement sessions and previewing progress his team is making to staff at a second read-out meeting on March 10 at the William Pitt Union. The engagement sessions and online surveys collected feedback from more than 1,000 participants during the first two months of the year.
Chief among the feedback received were responses about the classification and compensation of jobs, the performance evaluation process and development and training.
Modernizing compensation, classification
“We’ve heard loud and clear from day one when I came into the office back in July that we need to modernize the compensation and classification system for staff—loud and clear,” DeJong said before outlining a new system.
“This system will feature a set of job families focused on scope of responsibilities and necessary requirements to be qualified to do a job,” he said. “Our objective is to get a uniform application of the system and educate across all units.”
The University already possesses a comprehensive view of work done across the institution based on a survey collected two years ago, which OHR will use to build out job families. “Starting in the fall, we’re going to go unit by unit and sit down with every single supervisor and their staff to make sure we’re mapping staff correctly,” said DeJong. He noted that the “long runway” of development will ensure that everyone will be comfortable with the system, which he hopes will be implemented by fiscal year 2022.
Evaluating our performance evaluations
The performance evaluation system was also reported as a source of frustration for staff. “It’s not a particularly great system, number one, and number two—and much more disturbing to me—is that it’s not being widely used across the University,” DeJong said.
A new evaluation system with a calibration that differentiates between performance levels is currently in development. DeJong likened it to one used by the Office of the Provost to ensure all faculty receive evaluations and expects to send out a memo about it later this month.
OHR will work with directors of administration to ensure all staff members receive an evaluation and aggregate them for audit. DeJong plans to use the information gathered to educate and inform staff and, ultimately, improve the process. “We’re going to do that while we’re building out a better system, and we’ve got a very strong working group that’s helping us develop a better system.”
Training and development
DeJong reported some confusion around areas like University policies and the sorts of resources offered by OHR. “We need to do a better job with information, which we heard both from staff who are supervised and from supervisors overseeing staff,” he said.
Another opportunity exists in training—specifically of supervisors. “What you see is a lot of non-uniformity across our groups in terms of their practice, so we need to train [on things like policies and resources].”
Whether that need for training of supervisors would become mandatory is a question DeJong plans to explore with senior leadership. “The need to train is very clear,” he said.