Compensation project moves closer to rollout with Aon Hewitt visits

Contact: Cheryl Roland

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University moved closer to the rollout of a new compensation structure for nonbargaining staff members this week as national consultants from the firm Aon Hewitt spent time on campus reviewing with managers and supervisors the first drafts of job classifications based on extensive input from employees.

As of Jan. 20, more than 1,050 of the 1,270 individuals in the employee groups involved had filled out and submitted detailed descriptions of their job responsibilities. Since then, Aon Hewitt, an external consulting firm employed by the University to assist with the study, has been integrating that employee-provided information with data it had already gathered from the University. A new classification structure is being developed and the various WMU job descriptions are being benchmarked using local, regional and national market surveys.

In addition to the market surveys, the qualities being used to evaluate positions include such internal factors as impact, reporting structures and the leadership demands inherent to each position. External factors being considered include the ability of the University to recruit and retain people with the necessary skill sets.

Next steps

"The project is moving swiftly toward completion, now," says Jan Van Der Kley, vice president for business and finance. "Because we continue to have extensive positive input from people across the campus, the final structure is beginning to take shape. We're beginning to plan the process of sharing the overall plan with the campus as well as providing individual employees with the information specific to their positions."

For two days this week and next—Feb. 24-25 and March 3-4—two Aon Hewitt representatives are joining Human Resources personnel to meet with individual unit leaders from across the campus to answer job-specific questions triggered by employee feedback as well as share draft material based on that feedback and market studies.

Once all of the questions are answered and managers and supervisors have had an opportunity to review and comment on the first draft of the new structure and initial slottings, the Aon Hewitt team will go back to work, finalizing slotting the WMU positions into an overall structure with categories and compensation levels drawn from some 30 different market studies the firm has identified to provide market comparisons for the various WMU roles. Those market surveys range from national higher education surveys to discipline-specific surveys for such professional areas as information technology, health care, office and business support, and logistics and supplies. 

The entire new structure will be rolled out to the campus at large by the end of the academic year and is scheduled to be in place for the July 1 start of the 2015-16 academic year.

Information available online

A project website has been available throughout the effort. It outlines the project's goals and timelines and includes frequent project updates as well as such information as the list of market surveys being used, and details on all aspects of the project. That site is at

The current effort marks the first time since 2000 that the University has systematically studied compensation levels for campus positions and benchmarked them against similar positions in the job market. The project also will include a plan for continually updating and maintaining the compensation structure.

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