A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Campus Adopts New Compensation Policy

October 8, 2014
After nearly a year of planning, analysis and listening to employees’ concerns, UC Merced is launching a three-year strategy to implement a new compensation policy for non-represented staff members. 
The end result will be a workforce that is aligned to meet our growing campus’s needs, is fairly compensated and rewarded for exceptional performance, with employees given the tools needed to do their jobs successfully.  
In an Aug. 4 message to staff, Chancellor Dorothy Leland announced her approval to adopt the new policy.
“My team has developed a strategy for addressing our most serious compensation challenges for non-represented staff,” Leland said. “Although the strategy will take several years to fully implement due to severe budget constraints, I am committed to making this important investment.”
The new policy is designed to address three key objectives:
  • Attract and retain talent by increasing the average range of market percentile for UC non-represented staff from the current 31 percent to at least 45 percent;
  • Address basic fairness at UC Merced by identifying salary inequities across the campus within similar job functions and between recent and early hires (salary compression); and
  • Invest in the job functions most critical for achieving the campus’s priorities for the 2020 Project
“What this means to non-represented employees is that their salaries will be more aligned to market, performance will be recognized and rewarded, and the compensation process will be more transparent and improved,” said Michael Reese, vice chancellor for Business and Administrative Services.
Reese, who is overseeing the effort, held information sessions and a Compensation Townhall to provide details to staff, managers and supervisors. 
The initiative comes as UC Merced continues its growth as a developing research university.
“To grow, we must hire,” Leland said in her message. “But to do so without addressing current staff salary inequities will only make a bad situation even worse. The time to address this is now.”
Campus leadership is responding to staff concerns that include:
  • A perceived lack of transparency in compensation-related matters;
  • Salary compression, which happens when recent hires are brought in at higher salaries than existing employees who have similar job duties and more institutional experience;
  • Current policies that discourage lateral movement; and
  • Pay inequities at UC Merced when compared to other UC and California State University campuses
Those factors contribute to retention challenges. Taking action now will help position UC Merced to continue its progression as an institution of excellence in research, teaching and public service help ensure the campus can meet its short- and long-term goals.
Remedying compensation issues and moving toward a performance-based work culture is a process that cannot happen all at once, and requires a multi-pronged approach. To accomplish this, campus leadership will deploy a variety of tools that include budget resources, strategic workforce planning, performance management, incentive awards and expansion of professional development training.

Funding, Incentive Awards

The chancellor has committed $800,000 for year one of the three-year strategy. Those funds will be used to remedy the grossest inequities in a range of job functions that campus leadership deems among the most critical to achieving UC Merced’s top priorities by 2020. Additionally, supervisors and managers will be able to reward employees for exceptional performance with incentives through programs such as the Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Award initiative and spot awards.
Meanwhile, the campus is embarking on strategic workforce planning, which will create a roadmap for long-term staffing needs. The process involves determining the most critical job functions the campus needs to invest in; identifying which functions can be eliminated, shared or outsourced; and matching existing staff to newly identified functional needs.
During his informational talks, Reese has emphasized that strategic workforce planning is about creating a blueprint that allows staff to advance and grow in job roles that will help the campus continue its progression, drive innovation and invent new and more effective ways of working.

Move to Performance-based Evaluations

Also, compensation philosophy and plan reinforces a strong performance-based culture. Moving forward, a revised performance management process is in the works and Human Resources is expected to implement, in January 2015, a new job evaluation form that emphasizes goal setting. The final component of the new philosophy involves expanding professional development and training opportunities for staff. Employees have access to professional development opportunities and tools that will help them enhance and build skills. Examples include the July launch of the Career Advancement Mentoring Program (CAMP) and provision of lynda.com training sessions to staff and faculty members.