The Ithaca College Staff Compensation Program is in the final stretch of its structure and program redesign after staff and faculty surveys revealed concern regarding limited room for job growth and a lack of competitive salaries.
Cindy Reckdenwald, executive director of total rewards and workforce strategy in the Office of Human Resources, said that approximately every 10 years, the college reviews its staff compensation program. According to Intercom, employees were invited to participate in online surveys covering compensation and benefit programs during the initial stages of the redesign to find the issues at hand. Reckdenwald said over 50 percent of the staff participated in the surveys and that the greater staff input would help to better realize potential issues with the pre-existing program.
She also said that after reviewing staff concerns, Sibson Consulting identified two main issues: Employees felt that there was a limited opportunity for job growth and that their salaries were not market competitive.
A 2017 climate survey titled “Assessment of Climate for Learning, Living and Working” also revealed 57 percent of staff members at the college said they had seriously considered leaving the college in the past year. Additionally, some staff members said they feel undervalued at the college.
The concern about job growth was addressed by creating clearer job titles and defined job groups, changes that would create concrete steps for advancement, said Reckdenwald.
Reckdenwald said there are now four main job groups — management, specialized, support and service professional — each with subgroups based on the scope of the work and the skills required for the job.
“This is a completely new concept for the program,” Reckdenwald said.
She said that there was not much consistency in job titles in the past but that the defined job groupings have addressed the issue.
“We’re really hopeful our staff and supervisors will embrace this new structure and employees will begin to see there are opportunities available for them to move within their current positions,” Reckdenwald said.
To address the other major staff concern regarding noncompetitive salaries, Reckdenwald said, the college went from having 15 pay bands to 10 pay bands with new salary ranges associated with each pay band. Pay bands are the range of compensation a staff member could receive for their work.
“Staff will not have to worry about salary deductions,” Reckdenwald said. “No one will be paid less.”
Reckdenwald said that although many staff member view their salaries as nonmarket competitive, Sibson Consulting stated most salaries were already in line with the market. Still, the college made changes. Reckdenwald said a small number of people, approximately 20 workers, who received a below market–competitive salary would receive a pay raise, which will go into effect next semester.
According to an HR announcement in June 2018, the college has also changed its compensation philosophy to reflect the college’s commitment to “transparency, inclusion and unity.”
“We need to make sure our compensation program is supporting the college’s overall vision and mission,” Reckdenwald said. “The college is committed to paying market competitive salaries, and we want to provide salaries and benefits that help to attract and retain high–quality staff and faculty.”
The college held information sessions throughout October and the beginning of November in order to educate the staff and campus community about the ongoing changes and the next steps to be taken.
During a staff information session in the Emerson Suites on Nov. 7, staff members were informed about the new program and told division meetings would be held throughout the month. Each staff member will meet with department leaders to discuss the placement of their position within the new job groups and the salary adjustment in the coming month.
“For the most part people seemed to understand,” Reckdenwald said. “There wasn’t really any negative responses.”
Chun Li, a lab instrument coordinator, attended a staff meeting in November. She said that at the meeting, she was informed about salary structure.
Although Li said the meeting was confusing, she said she agrees it is time to make a change to the salary structure.
“I think the old salary structure is outdated for sure, but the new structure sounds better,” Li said.
Bridget Bower, librarian and college archivist, said she also received very few specifics at the meeting she attended. While pay bands were discussed, she wondered how the college compared her unique position with other jobs to see if her pay was competitive, Bower said.
“In the library, we have different specialists,” Bower said. “As the only archivist, I have no idea if my salary is competitive or not.”