Campus compensation project heads for home stretch

Contact: Cheryl Roland

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Western Michigan University Staff Compensation Project is moving quickly to completion with new job title guidelines developed and the final assignment of University positions to the new pay structure nearly complete.

National consultants Aon Hewitt were back on campus in April to meet with senior staff and finalize slottings and develop job titles that will be used consistently across the University. The timeline remains on track to notify individual employees in the Staff Compensation System of their new pay grade and job title as well as any resulting salary changes in mid-to-late May. The new structure will be fully implemented as planned on July 1.

The new pay schedule, which uses 10 broad categories to cover salary ranges and job responsibilities, was introduced earlier this year and is based on compensation levels drawn from some 30 different market studies Aon Hewitt identified to provide market comparisons for the various WMU roles.

New job titling guidelines

The new job titling guidelines have been developed to provide consistency of managerial titling across the university, ensure consistency in institutional reporting to federal agencies and allow the University to more closely match WMU positions to the external market moving forward, according to Warren Hills, associate vice president for human resources.

The new guidelines, he says, call for jobs to be assigned titles based upon one of three primary functions—managerial, professional or administrative/technical. Within each of these functions, there are three basic levels—one that reflects the basic job, a second to denote a midrange of responsibility, and the third assigned to senior-level jobs. A managerial configuration under that protocol, for example, could include an assistant director, assistant manager or supervisor; an associate director or manager; and a director or senior director.

"It's important to note that these job title guidelines are about the scope, strategic impact and nature of work for groups of common jobs rather than the specific qualities of the employees who hold those jobs," Hills says. "Job titles are set according to the nature of the job. We want to ensure that a director in one unit has similar institutional responsibilities as a director in another unit."

As part of the job titling stage of the compensation project, the titles for the three levels of administrative support jobs were adjusted slightly to include administrative assistant I, administrative assistant II and senior administrative assistant. Use of the word "intermediate" in the original version of this titling structure was eliminated based upon feedback received during the Aon Hewitt review meetings.

Next steps

Hills notes that the final steps in implementing the new system will unfold quickly during the coming weeks.

  • Effective Friday, May 1, all position changes within the existing compensation system will be suspended in order to allow adequate time to implement the new system. Exceptions will be made for vacant positions that will be posted before the July 1 implementation.
  • Individual notifications on pay grade, title, and salary or hourly pay rates will go to all staff compensation system employees in mid-to-late May. Some employees will learn that their pay will be increased as a result of their position's placement in the new compensation structure. And some will learn their pay will remain the same. No pay reductions will result from the job evaluations.
  • On July 1, all changes that are part of the new system will be in effect. New pay rates will be reflected in the July 14 paycheck for non-exempt (hourly) staff members and the July 20 paycheck for exempt (salaried) staff members.

A website detailing the work of the Staff Compensation Project is periodically updated to reflect the work completed. The site can be found at

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