Classification and Compensation Project

The University of Arkansas is strategically focused on enhancing its position as an employer of choice, and the Classification and Compensation Project is one of the initiatives that will provide the foundation to achieve this goal. Being an employer of choice means ensuring each individual feels valued, facilitating flexibility that serves both personal and university needs, and connecting faculty and staff members to the U of A's land-grant mission.

This project will be one step toward growing the university’s status as a place where people belong, work toward a meaningful purpose, grow in their current roles and in achieving long-term advancement, and thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

The U of A is working with Huron Consulting Group to design a transparent job framework that organizes in-scope staff positions in a clear, consistent structure across the institution and clearly outlines pathways for career growth. Working with subject matter experts across campus, the project team has created job families and job profiles for staff roles that better represent each role’s responsibilities. Bringing in campus perspectives of those close to the work being done helps ensure the job profiles both represent the roles the U of A has today, and roles needed in the future.

The team is also working with leadership to refine the university’s compensation philosophy to attract, retain, inspire and reward talent. The output of this project is not being created by Huron or Human Resources, rather it will be the result of an iterative, data-driven and highly collaborative process across the entire campus.

Outcomes from this project will include:

  • The creation of consistent, transparent pay structures aligned with industry and higher education market data based on the work employees perform in their role
  • Clearer paths for career growth and advancement across campus
  • Access to tools and development resources to support employees in reaching career aspirations

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions. If you have other project-specific questions, please contact the project team at

Recent Updates

In summer 2023, the project team accomplished the following milestones:

  • Trained HR Partners on the job classification architecture and empowered them to support the employee mapping portion of the project
  • Began discussing future compensation and classification practices and documenting a “playbook” to serve as a future guide
  • Started preparing preliminary mapping of 2,300 in-scope employees to the drafted job profiles
  • Worked on initial stages of compensation analysis preparation process
  • Worked with HR Partners and unit leaders to review and provide feedback to job profile mapping
  • Conducted compensation analysis, market pricing of job profiles to salary surveys, and preliminary financial impact analysis

So far this Summer, the team has engaged with 19 HR Partners and 62 unit leaders to initiate review of employee mappings to job profiles (meetings went through project scope, objectives, resources and questions). Huron also proposed benchmark job profile matches from Mercer, the College & University Professional Association (CUPA), and the Northwest Arkansas Human Resources Association (NOARK) for the compensation team to verify.

Watch the 150 Forward update from the March 2023 Employer of Choice Town Hall.

Key Definitions

  • Career Stream - A progression that describes the nature of work being performed.  Examples of career streams include:
    • Organizational Contributor
    • Professional Contributor
    • Manager & Leader 
  • Compensation - Compensation includes the combined value of an employee’s salary, benefits, retirement contributions, qualified tuition reduction and more.
  • Benchmark Job - A job whose major responsibilities and requirements are found in the market. These jobs are typically included in salary surveys and have reliable market data readily available year after year.  
  • Job Family - A group of jobs involving similar types of work and requiring similar training, skills, knowledge and expertise. The job family concept helps organize related jobs for purposes of pay, career progression and performance management Examples include:
    • Human Resources; Information Technology; Research 
  • Job Sub-family - A sub-set of a job family, usually more specialized in nature. Examples include:
    • Compensation, Benefits (sub-families within Human Resources)
    • Computer Operations, Systems Administration (families within Information Technology)
  • Market Adjustment - Refers to a salary adjustment that is made to recognize compensation changes in the marketplace for a specific job based on market analysis updated regularly to ensure competitiveness.
  • Pay Grade - A pay range to which jobs are assigned based on the job role, impact and complexity requirements, and the market value of benchmark jobs. Pay ranges have been designed to accommodate a wide variety of skill and experience levels, from novice to expert, in a job.
  • Working Title - A title that refers to a specific department where an employee is working, or a specific type of work, and is used in job postings, employees’ signature line, business cards, etc.  Examples include:
    • Director, Center for Academic Excellence
    • Analyst, Workforce Systems
  • Incumbent Review: A review by the compensation team required when an existing employee’s job duties and responsibilities change significantly (typically defined as 30% or more), or in a way that affects how the job is mapped
  • Bring-to-Minimum: A mandatory raise that an employee receives when adjustments in a pay range cause their salary to fall below the minimum of the range. “Bring-to-Minimum” raises the salary up to the bottom of the range.

Career Levels & Career Streams

Staff positions are categorized into three career streams based generally on degree of responsibility. Each stream contains a series of levels that defines career progression toward more job complexity, knowledge and responsibility.

Manager & Leaders oversee an area of responsibility while directing the work of three or more employees. This career stream manages strategy and policy development.

Professional Contributors are typically salaried, except perhaps at entry level. This career stream requires specialized knowledge or skills, often gained through postsecondary education, and oversees design and application of processes, programs or policies.

Organizational Contributors are usually hourly. This career stream provides organizational support or service (administrative or clerical) or does “hands-on” technical or craft work.

Project Steps and Status

project steps

project status september 2023