The skill matrix reflects:
- Where you are in terms of your overall career progression, it is about the arc of your career, not one year.
- Your skill development and your level of ownership and impact in the role over a proven, consistent period of time.
Base compensation is important, we all know that. We need to get this right and ensure that we are paying fair and market informed rates that reflect the role and the level someone is at in their career.
But, there is so much more to it! We should be celebrating the small and the big things because we know that people want and need to feel valued, appreciated and seen in their jobs. We have lots of tools for this—from a quick email or thank you chat, to using our emerging rewards and recognition programs, to investing time, energy and resources into development conversations and professional growth.
Leaders and supervisors should ask themselves and their teams this question: Who on your team has achieved significant career progression in the past year in terms of ownership and impact?
Once you have this list, pressure test it. Does each person stand out as achieving a significant career milestone this year? Or were they put forward because of a specific, annual contribution that should be recognized but not through the skill matrix? Refine the list.
Once refined, check again. Can you explain why this individual or these individuals should move? Can you speak to why others are not moving?
Finally, are you aligned with your leadership and supervisors? It is critical that you are working WITH your leaders and not in a vacuum.
Responsibility and authority sits with the SLG member who is completing the Step 2: INDIVIDUAL in Axiom as part of the compensation process.
It is critical that SLG members work with and align with leaders/supervisors in making decisions. SLG members have final authority but should be able to explain if there is a difference of opinion. It’s important we use this waterfall approach to ensure that clear and consistent messages are communicated from leadership to individual employees.
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions from Implementation
Q What information was used to benchmark positions and what can we do if that information is outdated?
We used current job descriptions to benchmark and map positions into the new structure. If a job description is outdated, the Hiring Manager will be able to submit revisions after we complete the transition to the new structure. It is important to understand that the comparison with market is based on the primary focus of the job and changing job titles, updating individual responsibilities, adjusting education/experience requirements in general will not impact the placement using market data.
Mercer helped us to define perimeters to ensure that we were looking at comparable institutions. Those perimeters were operating expenses, student enrollment, geography, and affiliation. We used both primary and secondary comparison groups (which together totaled 105 similar institutions) to ensure we had adequate data.
Longevity is not a specific factor in the new system. The new system is looking at the market along with an employee’s ownership and impact in their role. However, tenure in role helps to build an employee’s ability to have high levels of ownership and impact, in many cases, so it can play into the overall picture.
Increases will depend on both the market and skill matrix (an employee’s ownership and impact in their role). First, the role is placed in a grade based on market review and relationships between positions. Then, departmental leadership reviewed the initial placement and provided feedback on refinements to the placements. Finally, HR reviewed the feedback across the institution and finalized the placements.
To set the rate of pay within the grade, the individual’s position in the skill matrix was determined. If someone was currently making more than the amount derived by this process they did not get an increase this year. As the market moves over time we would likely see it catch up to those rates and at some point increases would resume.
VP’s, and other leaders supporting the process, had the opportunity to review and validate the proposed grade for each role within their area and to provide additional market data sources.
Please connect with your management team to learn more about how the skill matrix was applied. The responsibility for the assessment lies with the management team and there should be a discussion with the staff member about their placement. If you manager is not clear on the process please have them connect with your department leadership team.
Q Do my past annual performance summaries factor in to the new structure or will there be any adjustments based upon those?
Past annual performance summaries are not a factor in the new structure nor will there be adjustments based upon past performance. Future salaries will depend solely on the market and skill matrix. If someone will not receive an increase it is simply that an increase is not warranted given our programs focus on market and career progression. As the market moves over time we would likely see it catch up to those rates and at some point increases would resume.
Q Now that I know where my position falls on the new compensation structure, where can I find definitions or descriptions of each grade?
The grades are defined by the market, which means what similar employers are paying for similar roles. This is a different approach then our former system that had a framework based on the job content. Because of this, there are no ‘definitions’ across the board.
We’ve never had a specific COLA raise; we have had across-the-board increases based upon our available compensation budget. The new structure will use labor market data that captures a number of market pressures and dynamics but does not explicitly include COLA broken out in any way across the board.
We are committed to raising the base pay for staff in entry level positions. It was an important choice to raise the hiring minimums of both grades 1 and 2 to the same level in order to support economic stability, increased loyalty and retention. We have kept the structure with the two grades because in future the market may move separately. We will still complete the analysis for role and place into grade 1 and 2 separately, but then we have increased both of them higher than the market. Please see the table that shows the original market data for grade 1 and 2 and you will see that both are higher than they would normally be. This reflects our commitment to increasing beyond market for entry level positions to ensure that we are paying fair and competitive wages.
No, there is a significant amount of information that has been analyzed along with collaboration with managers and leaders and an institutional review which resulted in the grade placement. Sharing that full data set would not tell the full story of how grades were set. We shared details in the March materials about the Mercer study, in case you haven’t seen that yet.
To view a full list of all frequently asked questions, please click here.
Do you have a question that wasn’t covered or a follow up to what was shared? Please email Jenna Quenneville, Compensation Specialist, at Jenna@middlebury.edu and we’ll get back to you.