Employees hear presentation on new HR system| October 1, 2008
William and Mary employees gave robust applause to several aspects of the College’s new University Human Resources System during an opening presentation on the program Wednesday.
The presentation, conducted by Anna Martin, vice president for administration, precedes distribution of packets to individual employees scheduled for Friday. Those packets will inform each employee of his or her classification under the new system and information on the 90-day enrollment period that began Wednesday.
More than 300 people attended the first of the two presentations in the College’s Sadler Center. They reacted favorably to Martin’s assertions that, under the new program, the College would hire a training director, it would offer a formal grievance process to all hourly employees and that all hourly employees would be given five paid holidays each year in addition to a paid-leave program.
Martin assured audience members that all employees would remain under the state programs providing health, retirement, disability and related insurances and benefits. While the new system applies to classified employees or administrative and professional faculty, all instructional and research faculty would remain governed by the Faculty Handbook, she added.
Responding to questions regarding the new classification packages, she said that the human resources department would conduct a management review process between Oct. 1, 2008, and Jan. 5, 2009 in which specific concerns about the placement of individuals within the classification system could be addressed. At the same time, she said, “employee titles and salaries do not change” as the program takes effect. However, she pointed out, a distinct change involves the fact that raises under the new system would be market- and merit-based rather than based on length of service.
“This represent a culture change, a different way of doing business,” Martin said. “It’s going to take commitment, time and patience” to make it successful. She assured members of the audience that the new program, crafted during the preceding 20 months with input from hundreds of employees, represents a “substantive improvement” and that it will enhance relationships between employees and managers.
The University Human Resources System is part of the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in May 2006. The restructuring act grants William and Mary, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia a number of expanded authorities, including the ability to create their own human resources systems.
As the new system is rolled out, classified employees at the College have the option of joining it before the Jan. 5 deadline or remaining in the current state-run program while other employees automatically become part of the new program.
“This is a very individual decision,” she said. “You need to understand whether it’s best for you.” She encouraged employees to research both systems by accessing information on the human resources Web site .
Those in the system will be classified in one of three broad categories, operational, professional/professional faculty and executive. Within each category, a subset of criteria will help determine the value of each job. Pay ranges are being determined based on the contribution to the university and the relevant labor market value.
Martin promised that a “continuous feedback” loop would be established between managers and their employees that would be based on constructive dialogue designed to provide employees with relevant, specific and timely information about performance expectations and achievements.
“It will require a level of trust and understanding between employees and supervisors” to maximize the benefit of the new system for everyone affected, but given the opportunity by the state to create it, “we could not let it pass by,” she said.