Employer of Choice Classification Study

University of Arkansas Classification & Compensation FAQs

At the University of Arkansas, we are determined to be an Employer of Choice so that we attract and retain the top talent in our region and in higher education. To achieve these goals, we strive to offer a transparent and fair classification and compensation structure so that employees clearly understand the jobs we offer, compensation levels, and how to build a career through advancement on campus. The University seeks to place university units on a level playing field in seeking to retain talent and allowing managers to thoughtfully direct personal development of employees for a rewarding career that also advances the work of the campus.

This classification and compensation study is a building block of our Employer of Choice initiative which recognizes our people are our greatest asset and the key to unlocking new levels of excellence. The following FAQs are designed to help you understand this important work.

What is a classification and compensation study?

A classification and compensation study examines how an employer creates, defines, and associates jobs that perform similar or related work. Through the study, jobs are categorized by families that are built on clear job descriptions and illustrate, wherever possible, pathways for career progression and growth. The study also examines how those positions are compensated compared to each other and to similar positions in external markets. As with many employers, we are seeking to engage an external firm that is experienced in this type of analysis.  In April we issued a request for proposals (or “RFP”) for a firm to conduct this work.

What is the purpose of the study?

The purpose of the study is to ensure that the University  clearly describes its positions in terms of classification and compensation, pathways for growth and promotion, and that its compensation structure is fair and competitive (unit to unit and as compared to external markets).

Why do we need a study?

It is common for employers to periodically undertake modernization of their human resource processes and systems. At the University, it has been many years since we’ve holistically reviewed our classification and compensation system. This study is well-timed to capture changes that the campus has experienced in recent years, including the influence of technology, emphasis on student success, and the ways the pandemic may have impacted how the University’s work is conducted. The study will also help us understand how our compensation levels compare to regional and higher-education employers and ensure that our compensation levels are competitive.

Why do we need an external firm to conduct this work?

Classification and compensation studies frequently utilize external experts who have experience not only with job classification schemes, but also familiarity and access to specialized data sets related to compensation. Assistance from an external firm will help ensure focused attention and the right expertise. 

Are all positions being reviewed?

No. The proposal calls for 2700 different staff positions to be reviewed. Faculty, senior leadership positions (e.g., deans, vice chancellors), and some athletics positions are not included.

Will the successful respondent to the RFP dictate job descriptions and pay scales?

No, the firm that bids successfully will analyze data and make recommendations to the university administration. Ultimate actions will be guided by that information with decisions made by campus leadership. Of course, any actions taken in response to the study also must be taken with full consideration of Arkansas law, University System and campus policies, and potential financial considerations.

Will this study address salary compression?

Salary compression occurs when a lower paid employee or new hire earns close to or more than what an employee with more responsibility or with longer years of service might earn. The classification and compensation study will likely include proposed pay levels intended to help us avoid compression in the future and seek to ameliorate any anomalies identified across job classes. Individual instances of compression are not part of the study and are addressed through HR and unit leaders on campus when they arise.

Is this study required because we’re using Workday?

No. The purpose of the study is unrelated to the implementation of Workday as our human resources application. However, after the results of the study are evaluated and any approved recommendations are implemented, our modernized job classification and compensation system will be managed through Workday.

Will this study bring University compensation to “market levels”?

This study calls for an analysis of the University’s compensation levels compared to the marketplace regionally and within public higher education. It will provide insight into how our salaries compare in the marketplace and will provide current information to aid in our analysis of how the University’s total rewards (i.e., healthcare/wellness, retirement, and tuition benefits) compare in the market. This information will help our leadership formulate an updated competitive compensation philosophy designed to recruit and retain excellent employees.

Can my job be eliminated, or my pay be reduced by the classification and compensation study?

Job elimination or pay reductions are not the objective of this project. The goal of the RFP is to provide insight and information concerning our positions. The firm will make recommendations to modernize the classification and compensation system and the University will then evaluate those recommendations. We do expect that there will be instances where the study illustrates under-compensation and over-compensation. The University will assess the best course of action to achieve more market alignment based on the findings of the study.

How long will it take for this work to be completed?

This work is expected to take 18-24 months to complete. Implementation of some recommendations may occur prior to final completion of the study.  

Who on campus will be involved in this work?

On April 15, 2022, we announced that Debbie McLoud will lead this work as our Chief Transformation Officer for Human Resources. She will continue in her role as Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources until her successor is appointed following a national search that will be conducted in coming months. McLoud will continue to report to the Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration Ann Bordelon.

Will employees be informed about the progress being made with the compensation study?

Yes, you can go to the Human Resources website to review any news updates regarding the compensation study. You will also receive notifications via email and other communication channels.