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Manager training on new pay plan begins

By Anne Bromley

With the state's reformed compensation plan taking effect Sept. 25, U.Va.'s Department of Human Resources is gearing up to train supervisors in how to use the new negotiating tools for attracting and rewarding employees effectively and fairly. To date, about 2,000 employees have attended information sessions about the plan.

"Managers will still be doing what they have always done -- manage employees," said Thomas E. Gausvik, chief of human resources. They'll have greater flexibility in conducting the usual duties of hiring and evaluating employees, but greater accountability for justifying how they're spending their department's money, he said.

What managers will be able to do that they haven't done before is offer signing bonuses, other one-time bonuses of up to $1,000, and base salary increases for a variety of different reasons. For example, if an employee switches to new duties and responsibilities, goes through special training, or takes on a demanding project, the supervisor can recognize that employee's efforts and contributions monetarily with one of the above measures. They also can offer compensatory time or adjust a work schedule, if that's more desirable.

Figuring out how to take those steps appropriately -- although faculty managers have been making similar kinds of decisions for years with faculty members -- will be part of the mandatory training required of all supervisors.

At the end of this month, Human Resources staff will begin holding training sessions for the first of three categories of managers. This group of about 500 includes those who make the budget decisions or give key budget recommendations, such as deans, department heads and business officers. The next group to receive training will be upper- and mid-level managers who review employee salary recommendations from the managers reporting to them. Those supervisors who may evaluate employee performance and make salary recommendations make up the third group.

Since the 2000 end-of-year pay increase (of 3.25 percent) was already passed by the General Assembly, the first cycle for evaluating employee performance will cover the period April 1 to Oct. 31, 2001. Other pay decisions, however, can be made as soon as the plan goes into effect next month. Human Resources will review the first round by Oct. 25 and thereafter on a quarterly basis.

Working with the new plan will necessitate more in-depth short-term and long-term planning, according to Gausvik. Schools and departments with 50 or more employees will need to form Compensation Management Committees comprised of key financial personnel to work on such plans. Smaller groups can also form the committees. In addition to training the groups' members, Human Resources will designate a compensation management expert to provide advice and guidance.

Some of the factors managers need to consider in planning on how to use the new salary options include: looking at the employee's duties and responsibilities; performance; work experience and education; knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies; training, certification and/or licensure; need for internal salary alignment; and current salary and total compensation.

In addition the department's needs and priorities must be taken into account, along with the budget implications of the action. Managers should also refer to salary reference data and might consider the market availability of qualified people.

The dollars that are used to support salary actions such as promotions, reallocations and competitive offers come from existing agency budgets through turnover and vacancies. Over the past four fiscal years, U.Va. has spent on average approximately $1.5 million on promotions and reallocations, Gausvik noted.

Under the new pay plan, the budgeting process will remain the same. Thus, the governor and the General Assembly will decide the amount of future end-of-year performance increases beginning Nov. 25, 2001. Agencies and departments will continue to fund promotions, reallocations (now called role changes), and other bonuses and salary increases from existing budgets using turnover and vacancy savings.

"The flexibility comes from being able to provide variable salary increases for reasons that do not require an employee to leave his or her position and to provide bonuses for performance or achievement," said Gausvik. "This flexibility means that agencies have new ways to reward and recognize employees and spend dollars more wisely."



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