UW-Madison Bascom Hall (copy)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW System are collaborating in a $900,000 project to restructure job titles and pay structures.

As the University of Wisconsin-Madison closes in on nearly two years of working on a project to review employee job titles and pay, it hopes to begin implementing its findings in the spring of 2020.

The university first announced the Title and Total Compensation Project in 2016 as an effort to restructure job titles and descriptions to more accurately reflect employees’ work, as well as develop more competitive compensation and benefit packages. In 2017, UW-Madison and the UW System launched the $900,000 study with Mercer, a New York-based human resources consulting group.

A review of this type had not been conducted in 30 years, according to the TTC Project website.

The project plans to reduce nearly half of approximately 1,600 current job titles and include a new, specific job description for each new title, said chief human resources officer Mark Walters. This includes 24 designated job groups, 116 sub-groups and 645 draft descriptions, according to the website.

Next steps include meeting with all the employees affected by the changes to talk through their positions over the next few months. Although Mercer has helped identify areas of market deficiency, the university won’t necessarily be able to address them all right away as funding remains a concern, Walters said. 

“It’s going to have to be a long-term process,” Walters said. “We want to look at how far are we away from the market for specific positions and develop our priorities within the compensation strategy.”

One important factor that might lead the university to take quicker action is job vacancies. In custodial and food service departments, for instance, UW-Madison found itself struggling to fill jobs and behind pay minimums compared to the city or school district.

On Nov. 8, UW-Madison announced an increase in minimum wage for hourly employees to $15 per hour, which would “enable the university to compete more effectively for workers in tight labor markets,” according to a news release. The wage increase goes into effect in spring 2020 and will primarily affect custodial, animal care and food service positions.

“We want to fill these jobs, but we also want to make sure our employees are getting paid a fair wage,” Walters said.

The TTC Project will not result in any layoffs or reductions in base pay. Staff will be able to see the new salary ranges in the spring of 2020, Walters said.

Study results may effect changes in employee benefits. For one, Walters said, benefits packages differ across employee groups in certain areas, and the university hopes to make them more consistent. After conducting employee preference surveys and benchmarking its benefits against other companies and institutions of higher education, it has found that lack of parental leave is a market deficiency.

“UW-Madison is strongly considering the addition of (parental leave) to become more competitive and adequately meet employee needs,” Walters said in an email.

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