HR prepares to implement Classification System Project
More than 18,000 staff positions in the professional/administrative, office, technical and allied health job families will be part of a new job classification system following its rollout to the University next year.
The two-year design effort involved staff from all campuses and the U-M Health System (UMHS) and was guided by a steering committee of representatives from schools and colleges, UMHS, regional campuses, and business units.
Briefings with various administrative and other groups are being scheduled as well as public informational interchanges, which will be held from June through July on all campuses and in UMHS.
Field testing of the classification system with several diverse campus units concluded in December and resulted in refinements to the career families. The interchanges will provide a look at the knowledge gained through field testing, the new design and methodology, and the implementation plans.
Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Laurita Thomas applauds the skills and efforts of the many members of the community who contributed to developing a classification system that allows for more consistency and will become simpler to understand over time.
"Our current classification system was developed in 1973, and a great deal has changed at the University and in the general employment market, as well as the jobs themselves," Thomas says. "Tools like PCs did not exist in the office setting at that time, and that is just one example of how work changes, new fields develop and systems must evolve. The need to update our system presents us with the opportunity to improve its value to prospective and current staff, to help staff define their career paths and learn what skills and experience will be necessary as they develop their careers with the University. Implementing this system represents a positive stride toward that goal."
The new structure is designed as a "career-friendly" framework encompassing all positions within the project's scope, and it applies a methodology of job content matching to the external job market, called "market referencing."
"Career families, career bands, job roles and market job titles provide the foundation of the new classification framework," says Mary Maher, project manager and director of Compensation and Classification. "This new structure allows us to organize a wide range of classifications at the University into career friendly groupings that complement the organization's ability to identify and recognize competencies, supports our employees in the design of their career paths and the further development of skills and abilities, and assists external applicants to more easily locate employment opportunities that match both their qualifications and career goals. It's a win for employees, prospective employees and University units."
Senior Director of Total Compensation Timothy Wood agrees, adding that not only will the framework help staff navigate the system in a logical way, its use of market referencing to "map jobs to the market" provides an additional measure in determining the University's competitive positioning to the market.
"Market job titles will replace current U-M classifications," Wood says. "These titles will match those commonly used in other organizations in higher education, health care and general industry, allowing us to make comparisons and gather a great deal of information about how our classifications and compensation compare to similar jobs locally, regionally and nationally."
Project and core HR staff members anticipate working directly with University units as soon as October to begin new system readiness efforts. "We know we still have a great deal of work ahead of us," says Philip Smith, senior director of HR Strategy and Planning. "There are business processes that will need to change to support the new framework and a great deal of communication will take place between HR, units and their leadership, and the campus community to ensure we are ready."
Most staff will not see a change until positions are converted to the new system and wide use of new market titles and job families begins. That process is expected to start in July 2005.
"There is a good deal of information to learn and understand when making such a significant change," Maher says. "We have accomplished a great deal in our collaboration with staff and unit leadership, and that collaboration has resulted in a classification system design and methodology that is responsive to the diversity of interests and needs of the University community. The upcoming informational interchanges are an opportunity to continue this important journey together."
The Classification System Project also maintains a Web site, which has been redesigned and updated to reflect the project's current status. It also will serve as a portal for training unit human resource staff on the new system during the early stages of implementation. Visit http://www.umich.edu/~hraa/class/ for more information.