How to Avoid Inconsistency, Confusion When Managing Raises and Position Reclassifications

Position reclassification can be a complex process.

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Properly managing position reclassifications helps ensure an institution’s position descriptions are accurate in relation to one another, but to maintain accurate records, human resources teams must carefully monitor reclassification requests, especially when they’re required for compensation increases.

“In our state system, it can sometimes be difficult to give an employee a raise simply because they’re doing a good job, so we’ll have people who request a reclassification simply to justify a raise,” said Danny Linton, assistant director of human resources at the University of Memphis. “We really don’t want reclassifications done that way. A reclassification needs to happen because the job truly has changed — not because you just want to give someone a raise.”

False reclassifications can cause confusion if left unchecked.

“It muddies the water because it makes it look like you have a different workforce than you do,” Danny explained. “You end up with inaccurate data if you let it go too far.”

To prevent this issue, Danny and his team thoroughly vet all reclassification requests. “We don’t assume that a reclassification action is warranted just because we receive a request,” Danny said. “We do frequent job audits, where we go to the department and verify those duties have actually changed, rather than just rubber-stamping approval.”

Institutions that allow merit-based pay increases have an easier time with this issue but should still monitor closely to ensure all raises are appropriate.

“We try to keep our employees on an on-cycle merit increase,” said Carol Ann Irby, executive director of human resources at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). “If we do have an off-cycle reason, we really take into account if it is truly justified.”

So, what justifies an off-cycle merit increase at VCU?

“If someone has legitimately picked up more duties — which may mean they need to be reclassified anyway—experience may be a factor, and we do consider things like competitive offers,” Carol Ann said.

To manage raises, reclassifications, and other position management tasks, the University of Memphis and VCU both use Positions Management—PeopleAdmin’s higher education-specific position management solution.

Position Management has configurable features to simplify complex processes and ensure accurate documentation. For example, institutions can use Position Management to require a justification from the submitting department when requesting updates to compensation, position descriptions, or classifications that feeds into the appropriate approval workflow. This guarantees buy-in from across the organization and provides historical documentation that shows when a decision was made, how it was made, and what roles were involved in making that decision.

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