Employer of Choice Classification Study

University of Arkansas Classification Compensation Study

The University of Arkansas is committed to being an Employer of Choice that attracts, develops and retains top talent in our region and in higher education.

Our Classification and Compensation Project is one of the initiatives to establish the foundation that will help us achieve this goal – to help us offer a transparent and market-competitive classification and compensation structure so employees can clearly understand the job opportunities available at the university, the skills required of those jobs, compensation levels, and ultimately, development tools to help employees build a long, productive and rewarding career on campus.

If you have any project-specific questions, please contact the project team at ccproj@uark.edu.

Classification and Compensation Project Discussed at Employer of Choice Town Hall

As part of the university’s 150 Forward strategic planning process and campuswide town hall series, U of A leaders recently discussed the classification and compensation project in support of the the employer of choice strategic priority. At the meeting, Chief People Officer Michelle Hargis Wolfe said pay and career paths often arise as determinants of whether or not someone chooses to come to and stay at the university.

“Getting our compensation and classification right is critical to becoming an employer of choice,” Hargis Wolfe said. “We’re using data to create a consistent structure that ensures we are market competitive across the board.”

Subject matter experts across every unit have been working together to define work performed by staff roles across campus and group them into about 20 job families, as well as corresponding subfamilies. Hargis Wolfe said the job families are not designed to reorganize roles across campus, but to create clearer paths for career progression and advancement at the U of A.

Even though the classification and compensation project is specific to staff roles, Provost Terry Martin shared that evaluating salaries for faculty roles at the departmental level is coming “on the heels” of the staff project.

While panelists stated the importance of compensation being consistent across campus and competitive by sector and region, Chancellor Charles Robinson mentioned the U of A also has an obligation to keep education as affordable and accessible for students as possible. Robinson and other leaders also said that pay should be considered alongside factors the university is uniquely positioned to offer – such as a clear mission, accomplishing impactful work in a family-like environment, stability and other benefits.

Project Timeline


The University of Arkansas is collaborating with Huron Consulting Group to design a framework that is transparent, organizes staff positions in a clear, consistent structure across the institution and clearly outlines pathways for career growth and results in a fair and competitive compensation structure. Working with subject matter experts across campus, the project team is in the process of creating job families and job profiles for staff roles that more clearly and consistently represent each role’s responsibilities. The team is also working with leadership to refine the U of A’s compensation philosophy to better attract, motivate and retain talent.

Classification and Compensation FAQs

What is the Classification and Compensation Analysis and Realignment Project?

  • A project that examines how the university defines and associates jobs that perform similar or related work. 
  • Through the study, jobs are categorized by “job families” that are built on clear job descriptions and illustrate, wherever possible, pathways for career progression and growth. The study also examines how similar positions are compensated compared to each other and to similar positions in similar external markets.
  • 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 performance excellence.

Why are we doing this project?

  • Our Employer of Choice initiative recognizes our people are our greatest asset. One of our priorities for achieving this goal is to offer a transparent and market-competitive classification and compensation structure so employees can clearly understand the job opportunities available across the university, the skills required of those jobs, compensation levels, and ultimately, development tools to help employees determine the career path they want to take and achieve the skills to have the best chance of achieving a long, productive and rewarding career on campus.
  • The university seeks to place units on a level playing field in retaining top talent and empowering and enabling managers to thoughtfully guide and support their employees’ (and their own) personal development that also advances the strategic initiatives and critical work of the campus.

What are the objectives of this project?

  • To design a framework that is transparent and organizes jobs based on the work being performed in a clear and consistent structure across the university.
  • To clearly outline pathways for growth, development and potential promotion.
  • To implement a compensation structure that is market-competitive, internally and externally, based on similar work activities being performed.
  • To create a shared language that standardizes the approach to job classification and compensation management and administration.

What benefits can we expect?

Benefits to our People Benefits to our University
  • Provide a transparent job classification architecture and new compensation structure that attracts and retains top talent, rewards exceptional performance, and increases employee engagement by enabling employees to understand opportunities available for their growth and development.
  • Create clear career pathways for growth and potential progression
  • Ensure a sustainable pay structure that is competitive with the market and across campus
  • Better organize positions within the scope of the project into logical job groupings to compare and ensure pay equity among positions with similar responsibilities more easily
  • Greater clarity and efficiency of processes and administration of compensation
  • Newly defined and transparent Compensation Philosophy

Will this project change my pay, title or job?

  • The purpose of this project is to give U of A staff career paths, transparent pay structures and ensure we are able to attract, recruit, develop and retain talent as we strive to secure the university’s status as an Employer of Choice.
  • Changes to an individual employee’s assigned job duties or responsibilities are not the objective of this project. Some working titles may be altered to create more consistent job families and more clearly represent the role’s expected and assigned responsibilities.
  • This project is not aimed at achieving job elimination or pay reductions, although we will assess the competitiveness of our compensation and staffing for all positions that are part of the project.
  • This study will evaluate the university’s competitiveness to the external market, depending on various factors – including region, sector and job type. The university will assess the best course of action to pursue market alignment, including title and pay, based on the findings of the study.
  • Where significant changes emerge as appropriate based on the study, the university commits to engaging in a dialogue with leaders and employees.

What is this project NOT?

  • A general or automatic pay adjustment
  • An effort to reduce headcount
  • Reorganization of departments
  • Employee-specific performance review of current job duties or responsibilities

How do I stay informed?

  • Visit the project website for information regarding this project.
  • Contact the project team at ccproj@uark.edu for any project-specific questions.