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Job description process begins for Title and Total Compensation Study

April 10, 2018

UW–Madison’s Title and Total Compensation Study, a joint project with UW System, launches a job description process that will involve employees campuswide. Employees will work with their managers to review job descriptions in the summer and fall.

To prepare employees for this next step, Job Description Orientation sessions are scheduled for the week of April 23. All UW–Madison employees are encouraged to attend these sessions, where they will learn more about the job description process and their role in it.

Job Description Orientation sessions are being held at various times of day and in multiple languages to accommodate UW–Madison’s multi-shift, multilingual workforce. For those unable to attend a live session, the Job Description Orientation will be available online beginning April 23.

Job descriptions next step after recently completed job framework

Early in 2018, the Title and Total Compensation Study developed a job framework that sorts the university’s jobs into 24 job groups (also known as “job families”), as well as sub-groups (also known as “sub-families”). The job framework reflects a highly collaborative, campuswide effort. Twenty teams developed the job groups and sub-groups, with input from more than 3,700 employees.

In the job framework, a job group identifies a group of jobs involving similar types of work and requiring similar training, skills, knowledge and expertise. Jobs are further grouped into sub-groups that describe specialized functions. The completed job framework is on the UW–Madison Title and Total Compensation Study website.

Creation and review of job descriptions is one of the next critical phases of the Title and Total Compensation Study.

Standard and consistent job descriptions

Today, a manager who is creating a new job either starts identifying the duties from scratch or looks at a few other job descriptions to craft the new position’s duties. The result of this current process is differing job descriptions across campus, or even within divisions, for jobs doing very similar work. Because of this inconsistent approach, current employees and job applicants often find it difficult to understand which jobs best match their career goals. The variability can also result in positions being mistitled and employees not properly compensated.

The new approach that will be used in the Title and Total Compensation Study involves the creation of standard job descriptions that will add clarity, consistency, and save time for both employees and their managers. These standard job descriptions will identify common responsibilities, as well as educational and experiential requirements, for each job title. Levels of responsibility and skills associated with each job title will be defined, helping to clarify how employees can advance in their career paths.

“This is a critical initiative for our campus,” says Sharon Gehl, associate administrator for the Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, and a member of the study’s Job Description Team. “We have many titles that are not appropriate for the associated responsibilities, lack consistency of standard duties, and/or do not have similar minimum qualification requirements. There is too much variation.”

Employee involvement in the process

Many employees are participating in the study as the campus prepares for the upcoming job description process. Currently, teams of employees who are subject matter experts are helping to write and review standard job descriptions, which describe the typical responsibilities and qualifications for specific fields of work, such as career counselor.

In the summer and fall, employees across campus will work with their managers to review the standard job descriptions specific to their responsibilities. These sessions will take place one-on-one with a manager or in group sessions, depending on the job title.

“This is a once-in-a-career-lifetime opportunity,” says Bethany Pluymers, associate dean for administration at UW Law School and a member of the Title and Total Compensation Study Working Team. “It is extremely important that we get this right. Everyone’s input is so important.”

Moving towards market-informed titles and pay ranges

The standard job descriptions will also make it possible for the university to map job titles to comparable jobs in the marketplace.

“We need to undertake this study in order to be able to identify our peer groups and tie to market data,” Gehl says. “Tying to market data ensures we are staying competitive and enhances our ability to attract and retain our talent.”

The results of the Title and Total Compensation Study will help UW–Madison sustain and grow its outstanding workforce, offering these benefits:

  • Titles and pay ranges will be internally appropriate and market-comparable. This will allow employees to understand how their jobs compare to positions across campus and at other organizations.
  • The study will identify clear and consistent criteria for positions so that employees know what they have to do to move to the next level in a career series.
  • Salary ranges will be based on competitive market data.
  • Managers will have better data, tools and training to make decisions regarding pay and promotional opportunities for both current and new employees.

No employees will lose their jobs and employee base pay will not be reduced as a result of the study. The study results will provide guidance on how to address market issues over time.

The study is rooted in the university’s strategic framework to “ensure our ability to attract and retain talent by making progress toward competitive compensation relative to our peers and market medians.”

Information about the job description process, including a schedule of Job Description Orientation Sessions, is available on the Title and Total Compensation website.