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Some staff now using new HR system

The new Classification and Compensation system for administrative staff became the system of record for this payroll group on February 1, according to Nora Costa, manager of compensation in Human Resources.

In development since mid-1998, the new system simplifies processes and makes better use of technology.

The "classification" portion provides a way for MIT to develop (now and in the future) an internal hierarchy of administrative positions. The new online job evaluation tool measures the content of a position relative to other administrative jobs both within and across all "job families" -- groups of positions that are responsible for very similar things. The focus of the classification system is on the qualities, skills and competencies needed to work at various levels of complexity, scope and impact.

The "compensation" portion includes six broad salary bands and market zones that blend measures of internal and external market equity. The market zones identify a range of average market salaries for a particular job. The zones will be used as a guideline for pay decisions for new hires as well as for interim increases and promotions.

"This is really all good news," Ms. Costa said. "There's nothing sinister lurking in the bushes, and no one's salary is being decreased because of the new system. In fact, with the help of better data in the hands of managers, this large group of administrative employees can now be paid closer to marketplace salaries," she said.

During February, each administrative staff member will receive an individual letter about the numerical level and the salary band and market zone of their position. Vice President for Human Resources Laura Avakian has suggested that supervisors meet one-on-one with each of their direct reports to go over the information in the letter. "It's important to note that the level of every administrative position has been reviewed by the senior officer or the department head who oversees the position," she said.

About 50 staff members also will be informed that their salaries will be increased (as of February 1) to bring them to the minimum of the salary band for their position. The bands will be reviewed annually and adjusted, if necessary. Merit increases for the administrative staff will continue on an annual basis, with salary changes effective July 1.

Other advantages are that the new salary bands, which are tied to external marketplace data, should make MIT more competitive with other employers. In addition, much more information (all job descriptions, salary management guidelines and salary bands) ultimately will be open and available to the community. Initially, the job descriptions for only the 75 "benchmark" positions will be available on the web, but descriptions for all the other administrative jobs will be added as they are converted during the next year.

The job classification model, with its six numerical levels and six "compensable" factors, also is available on the web and should be useful in planning career paths. For example, if someone wants to prepare for a position as an administrative officer at MIT, he or she could use the job description and the model to see detailed information about the level of skills and competencies that kind of position requires.

Allison Dolan, director of I/T staff development and resource management in Information Systems, is enthusiastic about the new classification and compensation system. "The availability of the classification model and the job descriptions represents a new level of openness, and will facilitate constructive discussions with staff regarding their career development," she said.

"I also like the increased flexibility to recognize senior technical staff who may not have the large people or budget responsibilities which were the drivers of higher classifications in the old system," Ms. Dolan added. "And the new linkage with market pay is a very welcome change. Even though we may not be able to match the highest market salaries, at least we'll have a more robust set of data against which to make our comparisons," she said. Ms. Dolan was one of the 17 community members who served on the advisory group to the classification and compensation project.

The new classification system also will be faster and easier to use because it requires fewer process steps -- six rather than nine. And now, job classification for new or changed positions should take two to four weeks rather than the four weeks to four months that it took using our old system, according to Ms. Costa.

The new online tool for classifying jobs and helping to write job descriptions is called "eValuation." Here's how the process will work. After an area determines that a new job or a reclassification is needed, the departmental representative answers the job classification questions and creates a job description. Then, the next-level reviewer edits and/or confirms the job description and forwards it to the Human Resources officer.

He or she reviews and resolves any questions about the classification request and forwards it to Compensation for the final decision about the level and market zone. The Compensation Office electronically notifies the relevant senior officer, department head and HR officer about those decisions.

The eValuation system was test- ed by staff from the community who suggested that training to use the system should be optional since it's fairly intuitive. Group training sessions will be scheduled in late February and early March. Individual training will be by request.

For more information about the new classification and compensation system, see the Compensation Office's web site.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 9, 2000.

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