William & Mary

Spring General Meeting - Follow Up

Location:  Commonwealth Auditorium, Sadler Center


Speaker slides, answers to ALL questions & a recording of the event from March 7th are now available!

Full Description

Thank you for a successful event. Turnout was approximately 125 in person, with another 125 screens streaming the event live. Several satellite viewing locations were formed, beaming the event to staff members in auditoriums and conference rooms across campus and across the river — the VIMS viewing location was attended by almost 75 staff members.

All staff of the university were invited as Sam Jones, John Poma and Babs Bengtson shared updates on FLSA overtime rules, professional classification at W&M, Cornerstone, performance evaluations and professional development funding. 

  • Pre-submitted questions were answered live at the event.
  • Follow-up questions were invited through Thursday, March 9th.
  • Answers to ALL submitted questions are posted below.
  • If you were unable to attend or view the event live, a recording is available below.
Live Stream & Recording

{{youtube:large:center|gsJWLqKlEv8, Couldn't attend? Watch a recording of the General Meeting.}}

View the speakers' slides (pps).

Meeting Agenda

David Morales – Welcome from the Staff Assembly President
Babs Bengtson – Staff & Professional Development Support Fund
John Poma & Babs Bengtson – Cornerstone & Performance Evaluation Process
John Poma – Update on FLSA Rulings
John Poma – FLSA & Professional Classifications at W&M
Sam Jones  State Budget Update

Submitted Questions & Answers

All questions were posted as they came in. Our speakers addressed pre-submitted questions live at the event. Follow-up questions were invited until Thursday, March 9th.

Staff & Professional Development Support Fund

Question: How does the Staff & Professional Development Support Fund work?

  • Watch the live response from Babs Bengtson.
  • Summary: The fund is only for W&M staff, as VIMS has their own fund. The VIMS Professional Development Council helped the Staff Assembly (SA) and the Professional and Professional Faculty Assembly (PPFA) create a proposal last April to submit to Sam Jones requesting the funds for W&M staff. Sam brought it to the Board of Visitors (BOV) and they approved it. SA and PPFA created a council of 12 people to manage the application process and administer the funds. The fund was marketed online and through the W&M Digest, as well as at the benefits fair. The process is being started over again this year at the BOV meeting in April to decide if and how much the fund will receive. Last year, the council received 60 applications. 28 were funded and it was divided equally between staff and professionals. Those who received funding were asked to submit receipts for reimbursement. Examples of what was funded: CPR instructor certification; textbooks for HVAC training; certification for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Facilitator. Find more information.

Question: I am a FT operational employee and would like to complete my MBA. The Tuition Waiver Program as outlined on the website under "What Must I Do to Participate" is very straight forward for someone simply looking to take a class; however, the rest is a little vague: "Employees participating in the program are subject to the university's normal admission requirements and other applicable policies and procedures." Could you please provide more guidance on what steps to take to start the process? Are advisors available to meet with employees? Is there someone specific who we should contact?

  • Watch the live response from Babs Bengtson.
  • Summary: This benefit is available to all staff (W&M and VIMS). You can take 4 classes per year tuition-free (classes can be during fall, spring, or summer). For single class, follow instructions on the website. For degree seeking students, contact the academic department as they are in charge of accepting students for degrees. Human Resources (HR) verifies that you are eligible, but the academic department decides if you will be accepted. Follow the admissions process for the department and then complete the tuition waiver form.

Question: (Follow-up question.) There have been several educational sessions sponsored by Human Resources, for example "Healthy Eating Series". Why are these sessions always only offered in the mornings? Why can't there be the option for morning and afternoon. Many job duties do not allow for getting out the office in the morning. This may not be part of the Staff & Professional Development Fund but they are being offered to help education the staff yet the time restrains keeps everyone from attending who would attend.

  • From Babs Bengtson: Thank you for your interest in attending professional development courses. I also am concerned with offering courses at a variety of times so that everyone can participate. Here’s my dilemma. When I offer courses in the afternoon, the no-show rate is extremely high. I actually did offer the first program in the Healthy Eating series in the afternoon (in the fall). Twenty (20) people registered to attend, but only five (5) people showed up. The presenter had the chef prepare food and she printed color copies of her materials. I will keep afternoon sessions in mind and will continue to figure out the optimal time to offer them so that people are able to attend.
Cornerstone/Performance Evaluations

Question: What action does HR take to ensure that a performance evaluation and/or performance plan is submitted for every classified/operational employee?

  • Watch the live response from Babs Bengtson & John Poma.
  • Summary: Previously HR was tracking it on Excel spreadsheets and in hard copy paper files. Now that it is online, it will be easier for them to see who has completed reviews and who hasn’t and they can more easily contact people who are overdue. While all the functionality of Cornerstone is not immediately usable, it will be as we start using the system more. Tracking will be much better, as the system will allow HR to show stats by school, department, etc. what the percentage of completion rate was, what the average scores were, and whether there are any anomalies. It is going to take some time to learn what the capabilities of Cornerstone are. They are excited about Cornerstone and feel it will transform the performance evaluation process and make it more valuable to both employee and supervisor.

Question: Have supervisors on campus been given the right guidance and training in order to properly do evaluations? There have been many staff that are complaining of unfair scores as well as unprofessional evaluations, but are afraid to come forward in fear of retaliation. Just because the law says it's illegal does not mean that people's emotions and sensitivity levels will not be directed to that employee. Lots of time management has already developed relationships with HR and HR is more for keeping the school reputation in tack than actually helping the employee themselves.

  • Watch the live response from Babs Bengtson & John Poma.
  • Summary: HR provides the Supervisor’s Institute and are also actively looking at other ways to provide supervisory training. Before every performance review cycle, they provide information sessions about the system and the coaching aspects of the process. They provide guides online on the HR website and in the Cornerstone system. Some supervisors still need help and HR is there to help, guide and counsel. HR wants to make W&M a great place to work and they know supervisors impact that. They feel that what would help make W&M a great place to work is communication and performance management is integral to that as it helps the employee to understand what is expected of them. HR is available to help supervisors in performance planning/review, but are also there for employees as well. They can help provide coaching for addressing conflicts or disagreements over performance reviews with your supervisor. The Director of Employee Relations (position currently vacant) is there to provide help to each employee.

Question: Please clarify roles in Cornerstone (especially concerning the Performance Plan): who is supposed to write what? What I was told and what I read conflicted.

  • Watch the live response from Babs Bengtson & John Poma.
  • Summary: The written guides follow the system process. The guide tells you how to go through the system step by step. The communication about performance planning is different because the system is only the documentation side of the process. Cornerstone is a tool and doesn’t replace your face-to-face discussion with your supervisor.

Question: (Follow-up question.) What was the reason for rolling out the Evaluation portion of Cornerstone before the Performance Planning portion? It seems a little backward.

  • From Babs Bengtson: We started with the evaluation first for two reasons. One, it was the first event in the performance cycle after signing the contract. Two, we had the technical help (through Cornerstone) available to set up the fairly complicated system, which we wouldn't have if we waited until this October to launch the evaluation part. However, this also aligned with our typical cycle: Every year, all employees are evaluated on what happened during the previous performance year. Then, within the next 30 days, the supervisor and the employee meet to plan goals for the next performance year. That is the way it has always been done and reflects our performance evaluation and planning policy. The Cornerstone schedule followed the same schedule. First, employees were evaluated on what happened in the prior year (October 25, 2015-October 24, 2016). Then, supervisors and employees had the opportunity to plan what the goals were for the time period remaining in this performance year (until October 24, 2017). We were late with the performance planning roll-out, but will be able to offer it in a more timely manner this coming October.
FLSA (Overtime Rules)

Question: How do staff account for campus committee meetings that we attend and we meet 4:30 to 5:30. As a new non-exempt, does this mean we have to leave the meeting at 5:00?

  • Watch the live response from John Poma.
  • Summary: If you ever have any questions regarding how to record your time, contact Payroll. You don’t have to leave at 5pm; however, you and your supervisor have to discuss how to handle this. If you are approved to work until 5:30pm, then you are working an 8.5 hour day and the 0.5 hour is either to be recorded as overtime or you can adjust your schedule during the week to make up for it. Your supervisor can approve you to leave half an hour early or come in half an hour late or take an extra half hour for lunch during the work week, so that you don’t work more than 40 hours. Or your supervisor can approve you to work half an hour of overtime for that day.

Question: It has been brought to the attention of the Women's Network that an overwhelming majority of the College employees affected by the recent FLSA overtime rulings are female employees of the College. While we know the courts have placed a hold on those being affected by the rulings due to salary, we are aware that some of the employees are still impacted due to duties. Even though fewer employees are impacted currently due to the court's decision, we are still very concerned. We are concerned that the overwhelming majority of the employees at William & Mary making $47,476 or less per year and the overwhelming majority of the employees at the College in middle management positions are women. This evidence suggests that female employees at William & Mary are not being promoted at the same rate as male employees. We would like to know how HR plans to address this issue.

  • Watch the live response from John Poma.
  • Summary: With respect to the FLSA, if you are reclassified from exempt to non-exempt, there is nothing inherently bad about it. You can increase your income potential if you work more hours. Of the 155 employees who were reclassified due to duties, over half of them were employees who earned more than $47,476. The question presumes that everyone who was reclassified earned below $47,476 and that isn’t true. There are higher paid positions that DOL’s guidelines say should be overtime eligible. For example, there are some positions that require a CPA, an advanced license, but are overtime eligible. When looking at the statistics for whether women were more affected by the FLSA changes, women were indeed more affected than men. 68% were women and 32% were men. However, that is in line with the overall distribution of women (62%) vs. men (38%) at W&M. When looking at job progression over a 13 month period, 64% were women and 36% were men. When looking at those who make under $50,000 at W&M, 66% are women and 34% are men. But, again, that is very reflective of the overall distribution of our workforce.

Question: How does my hourly rate change based on the number of hours in a pay period. I work a lot of overtime and my overtime rate changes based on the number of hours in a pay period. This isn't fair and I'm not sure it's legal. On the 96 hour pay period ending 2/9/17 I had worked 39.5 hours 2/4/17 to 2/9/17. My regular pay was based on 103.5 hours. I had overtime in the first week of the pay period so my overtime rate was figured on 103.5 hours dragging my hourly rate down. So not only was I not compensated for the 7.5 hours I worked over the 96 hour pay period but my hourly rate for the overtime was way below what it should be based on my salary divided by 2080 hour in a work year. This seems very unfair and against the law? Is there a minimum hours I should be paid when called into work?

  • Watch the live response from John Poma.
  • Summary: W&M pays on a semi-monthly basis and so pay periods differ in the number of days. Due to the differing number of days, the overtime rate changes, as it is calculated based on the number of days in the pay period. Because we get paid on a semi-monthly basis, we get the same fixed salary regardless of the number of days in the pay period. FLSA lets us calculate the overtime rate in more than one way. One way is annually where you take the salary and divide it by 2080 and then come up with a fixed overtime rate. The second way is to take salary and divide it by the number of days in the semi-monthly pay period, which is what W&M does. The average per hour rate goes down if there are more days in that pay period. HR would like to switch to the fixed rate, but Banner restricts this ability. They are still looking into ways to change the calculation, but that is why the overtime rate changes. The second part of the answer is that because we get paid semi-monthly it causes an issue with the way overtime is paid. HR calculates overtime based on a 7 day period and not the W&M pay period. For example, you could work 50 hours in one work week and 30 hours in the next work week and since they are in the same pay period think that they average each other out. The government does not allow this. Also, because the pay period can cross multiple work weeks it can cause additional confusion about what the overtime rate is and when you get paid for overtime. If W&M moves to the fixed overtime rate, it solves part of the problem. But, because we are on the semi-monthly pay schedule, it could still be confusing when you would get paid the overtime because it can cross multiple pay periods. Any specific questions about your paycheck should be directed to Payroll.

Question: (Follow-up question.) At one time the pay was also to be changed to biweekly. Is that still being considered, since it would solve the varying pay rate?

  • From John Poma: We do not have any plans to adopt a biweekly pay schedule, and it is not being considered at this time. However, we are looking at an option to use a fixed overtime rate versus a variable rate. HR is currently working with Ellucian to determine if this is a viable option for us.
Professional/Operational Classification Changes at W&M

Question: For all of the exempt employees who were offered the opportunity to switch to professional status this month - do they automatically get all of the benefits that come with the privilege of being a professional status employee? Why was this change offered?

  • Watch the live response from John Poma.
  • Summary: When HR made the changes to overtime, we made changes to how we classify employees. Previously, when a job was exempt, HR could classify you as operational or professional. The criteria they used for whether an exempt job was operational or professional wasn’t clear. Moving forward, all exempt jobs will be classified as professional and all non-exempt jobs will be classified as operational. We gave the option to existing operational exempt employees for a one-time election to convert to professional exempt. It is not required because HR does not want to disadvantage anyone from a pay or benefits position. For some operational employees who have been at W&M for more than 25 years, they currently earn more leave than they would as a professional. However, for those who want to convert to professional, they will receive all the same benefits as professional staff. You will get the professional leave accrual and be eligible to participate in the ORP. HR wants to treat similarly situated employees in the same way and the way it was being done before didn’t make sense. HR thinks of the staff as one entity and wants to create fewer divisions.

Question: (Follow-up question, time allowed for live answer.) As a Professional and supervisor of 9 Operational/Classified staff, the biggest concern expressed to me is that there is uncertainty as to the change in benefits that would occur when opting to move to PPF status. We have all attended the informational sessions offered by HR, and when it comes down to specific questions we are directed to the HR website and told to read for ourselves. The problem is the online PPF Handbook is really just a page of links to other College Policy documents. The information is sometimes contradictory and is very difficult to navigate. One does not get all the information in one stable and trusted place. The comments that I have been hearing is that it is like being asked to sign a contract without benefit of knowing the details. So my question is, is there a single, stable written document that clearly outlines the benefit changes and consequences of converting to PPF?

Question: (Follow-up question, time allowed for live answer.) What is the point of having the professional/professional faculty classification? When I first came to VIMS the professional faculty group was quite small. They all had advanced degrees or certifications. When raises were handed out they were equal to the faculty raises or fell between the faculty and staff amounts. Now the classification includes pretty much anyone. Our raises equal what the staff gets. So I repeat my question: Why even have the PPF classification?

  • Watch the live response from John Poma.
  • Summary: If you are professional faculty, you are a professional, it is a sub-category. If you are professional you all receive the same benefits package.

Question: (Follow-up question.) Is there any data about the amount of employees moving to PPF? If so (or not) is there any plan to join the two assemblies?

  • From John Poma: The open enrollment period for an operational exempt employee to become a Professional ends on April 9th. Therefore, we will not know until then how many employees are moving to PPFs. At this point there is no recommendation to merge the two assemblies. Any proposal would require extensive discussion with the leadership of both assemblies and employees at large as well as Board of Visitors approval. It is important to note that the administration remains committed to developing and promoting a culture and environment that is inclusive and supportive of all staff. We hope to continue the dialogue with both assemblies about steps that we can take to make W&M a better place to work for all university employees.