The University of Wisconsin System is wrapping up a years-long project that studied compensation levels across the UW System to evaluate pay ranges and titles.

Thousands of employees learned about their new salary range for their position in the week of Nov. 7. At UW-Madison, if an employee’s pay falls below the updated salary ranges for their job title, a pay increase will be given to that individual.

Most job titles for Academic Staff and University Staff will also be getting a modernized job title and a standard job description, which the UW System said they would release via email to employees by Nov. 15. Base pay will not change for employees, but an updated salary structure with salary ranges will.

These changes are the results of the Title and Total Compensation Project — a project that has been in the works for five years to evaluate staff titles and wages in order to make them comparable with other employers in the market. 

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Mark Walters, UW-Madison’s Chief Human Resources Officer, said the original structure for non-faculty titles and pay ranges were not working anymore.

“We created a new compensation structure that was a culmination of us looking into the private sector and higher education,” Walters said. “We melded that together, benchmarked our jobs to the titles that are in the industry standards and created the compensation structure with a series of grades and corresponding titles that our market informed.”

Employees have voiced concerns about having appropriate titles for their position on campus. Salaries for several employees are unknown because introducing the topic into discussions about job titles could result in bias or inaccurate assessment, according to The Chippewa Herald.

To improve some of these transparency concerns, employees will have access to an online library that contains jobs, titles and the salaries for each position.

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UW System staff members have also raised concerns about the chance of a less qualified individual being granted the same title as someone with more experience and education. For every title, a salary range will be available and employees will be paid somewhere within the range based on their qualifications.

If an individual is unsatisfied with their job title, they are able to request a formal appeal to express their concern. Appeals will be handled at the university level and will only be available for job titles, not job descriptions.

UW-Madison professor and faculty representative Eric Sandgren said the Title and Total Compensation Project is meant to work in a way that will correctly pay individuals grouped in positions with a starting salary that is above what they are currently making.

The action on new compensation stemmed from data collected from other places of employment in order to offer competitive wages that allow UW-Madison to stand out to future employees, Sandgren explained.

UW System President Tommy Thompson said in an email statement said its been about 30 years since the UW System last went through this process. 

“Updating job titles and pay ranges is a good business practice that is long overdue at the UW System,” Thompson said. “A complete review of titles and pay ranges across the UW System for non-faculty staff ensures we are consistent across the System and in the labor market.”

Sandgren said there are a few potential problems that employees may run into, such as broad title names or making above their new established pay range for their position. Changes will continue to be implemented in order to ensure a fair and equal change for every staff member.

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Sandgren said there must be flexibility with the changes because of its infancy and the fact that there will continue to be road bumps encountered with the implementation.

“We need to find the sticky points and the points of concern so we can address them as fast as we can as a university so that we can reduce the concern and the discouragement of people,” Sandgren said.