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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU moving forward with a new job classification and compensation program

New Mexico State University will soon implement a new job classification and compensation program that will create more flexibility for rewarding employees, said Diana Quintana, director of human resources.

w system is very timely. The university as a whole is looking to create more flexibility and streamline processes. This new compensation system will do both, as well as improve supervisors' ability to reward employees," Quintana said.

The new system, called broadbanding, was successfully tested in 2004 in three university units - the Physical Science Laboratory, Information and Communication Technologies and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center.

The current compensation and classification system for classified or non-exempt employees dates back to the 1970s, and the salary structure for professional or exempt employees to the 1980s. Quintana said neither system was meeting today's needs.

"The current systems are very structured and inflexible with little variation allowed. Regardless of a person's background, there is little room for movement, and promotion opportunities are limited," she said. "We wanted to revise our system to a more market-based approach that allows room to address what a person brings to a position."

The main difference between the current and new programs is the way in which jobs are classified in order to determine appropriate salaries. The current classification system places each job in a salary grade, which has minimum and maximum pay associated with it and is tied to job duties and responsibilities. Broadbanding includes mechanisms to recognize the value and contributions of individual employees and considers market factors within available budgets.

The university will replace its job titles with job families, which are more about a job function than a specific position. The job families are associated with federal occupational classification codes, allowing easier matches to market rates. Each job family is then placed into broad salary bands - leadership, mid-management, professional and administrative/operational support. The new system allows supervisors and employees to identify positions by internal individual titles, if desired.

Quintana said broadbanding still maintains all of the positive elements of the older system. There are still longevity, service and degree increments included in broadbanding, and internal equity within units will still be maintained.

"Employees holding like positions should be paid equitably, according to qualifications, performance and longevity within the university," Quintana said.

This change became possible in July 2004 when the university decentralized budgets, giving managers control over salary dollars associated with classified or non-exempt positions. Additionally, salary savings can now be used to adjust position and employee salaries within a unit according to market value or the needs of the unit.

"The decision-making also becomes decentralized, which streamlines the process," Quintana said. "Delays are created when Human Resources has to review everything. The accountability will now be at division levels for the majority of pay transactions."

Most university supervisors have been trained in broadbanding and are anxious for their departments to start transitioning, Quintana said. General employee information sessions were held in the spring and training sessions for employees will begin this fall.

"We want everyone to be as informed as possible as we move forward," Quintana said. "We want employees to know that this will enhance our system and that they are not losing the elements of the current structure that benefit them."