University of Wisconsin–Madison

Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not addressed in Frequently Asked Questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Title and Total Compensation Study team at the UW–Madison Office of Human Resources. These frequently asked questions are a distillation of questions asked during Forums and Listening Sessions in the Fall of 2017.

1. About the Study

What is the Title and Total Compensation Study?

The Title and Total Compensation Study is a joint effort between University of Wisconsin System (UWS) and UW-Madison. The objectives of the study include:

  • Develop clearer and more competitive job title and compensation structures
  • Ensure job titles accurately reflect duties and responsibilities
  • Provide sustainable methods to maintain market-informed title and compensation structures
  • Build in career progression where it makes sense
  • Include job titles and compensation structures for academic, university, and limited staff
  • Review compensation for graduate students
  • Enhance recruitment and retention
How will the study benefit employees at UW–Madison

The Title and Total Compensation Study will result in relevant and market-informed titles, pay scales, and benefits/work-life and leave structures.

  • Employees will see how their job and title compares to positions across campus and at other organizations.
  • Employees will have clear guidelines to make informed choices about advancing in their careers at UW–Madison
  • Managers will have tools to make informed decisions about pay or promotional opportunities for their employees
Will the study impact my pay and job security?

No employees will lose their jobs and base pay will not be reduced as a result of the study. The study results will provide guidance on how to address market issues over time.

Who is guiding the study at UW–Madison?

Interconnected Project Teams make up the UW–Madison project structure for the Title and Total Compensation Study. The UW–Madison project teams are working in conjunction with UW System and Mercer Consulting with the strategic guidance of an Advisory Council.

How long will it take to complete the study?

There are five phases of the Title and Total Compensation Study. The Study timeline goes from February 2017 to March 2019.

Who makes the final decisions about adopting the major design components of the study?

The final decision makers for each major design component are the Executive Sponsors and the Board of Regents.

2. Job Framework

What is a job framework?

A Job Framework is the overall organization of jobs for administering compensation and managing career progressions. Components include job families, sub-families and career levels.

A Job Family is a group of jobs that involve similar work and require similar training, skills, knowledge, and expertise.

A Sub-family is a smaller group of jobs within a larger job family. Sub-families describe specialized functions.

A Career Level represents the hierarchical position of a job and is used to differentiate jobs based on predefined criteria.

Learn more about job families:
Job Families Handout (pdf)

Is the job framework fixed once it becomes developed?

No. The goal of phase two of the project is to start with the best possible initial job framework. As we map jobs to the framework, minor adjustments to the framework may be necessary. As jobs and industries change over time, the framework can be adjusted to stay up-to-date with the market.

How will the job framework relate to other human resource processes and programs such as performance management, organizational development, and recruitment?

The job framework works in an integrated way with many areas of human resources management.

How were team members for the Job Family Functional Teams chosen?

We identified and selected team members by various processes including university governance selection. The goal was to create teams that included the skills and knowledge to help create the new job families.

Do job families cross boundaries between colleges, schools and divisions?

Jobs in a job family may not be unique to just one college, school, or division. For example, an Accountant job may be in multiple colleges, schools, or divisions.

Can employees on the same team be in different job families and sub-families?

Yes, many teams on campus have employees in different job families and sub-families. For example, the Title and Total Compensation Study team includes an employee in the following job families: Administration, Communications and Marketing, and Human Resources.

Will there still be both University Staff and Academic Staff titles/positions?

The elimination of University Staff and Academic Staff positions is out of scope for this study. The job framework and salary and promotional guidelines will be consistent at the end of the study and promote transparency of pay practices across UW–Madison.

Will University Staff and Academic Staff have the same opportunities for progression/promotion?

As a part of this study we hope to reduce the hindrances to career advancement. One of the issues that exists today is that career mobility may be limited by the differences in our employment and leave practices between Academic Staff and University Staff. We are too early in the study to know what changes will be proposed to address these issues.

Will the criteria for advancement change?

Yes, it will change. However, the study will ensure that the number of levels corresponds to typical career steps and progressions for particular job families.

How do managers exist in the job framework?

Managers map to the primary job family and sub-family that best defines the functions they oversee.

How does career advancement work if I want to move to a different job family or sub-family?

The results of the study will give you a clear view of how your job and title compares to positions across campus and at other organizations. The results will also provide you with information to make informed choices about ways to achieve career growth at UW–Madison. If you want to advance across job families, you will have an understanding of the typical knowledge and experience required for this kind of career move.

3. Career Paths: Levels and Level Descriptors

What are career path level descriptors?

The level descriptors guide human resources professionals, managers, and employees regarding the criteria that helps to determine the placement of a job into a specific level and title.

How is one career level differentiated from another career level?

Level descriptors describe the characteristics of each job level and the increasing responsibilities and requirements of jobs. Level descriptors encompass five areas at each level: Organizational Impact, Complexity of Work, Independence and Supervision, Leadership or Talent Management, and Knowledge and Experience.

How do career levels help employees and managers?

The descriptors for each of the career levels are consistent across job families providing employees and managers information regarding the type of duties, skills, and knowledge needed at each level.

Will I have to move into management to achieve a higher career level?

We are creating two career paths, Management and Organizational Contributor, to help employees understand the duties, skills, and knowledge differences in a management career and that of an organizational contributor. There are eight levels in each of the career paths with plenty of room for advancement.

How will I be initially placed at a career level and can I appeal the placement?

You will work with your manager to complete your job description and review your placement in a career level in the job framework. There will be an appeal process for individuals who are not able to resolve their disagreement in their career level with their manager and division human resources.

How do I advance between levels?

Advancement between career levels occurs as the duties that you are asked to perform on the job expand to include duties at a higher level. Employees may also apply for positions at a higher level.

How are levels connected to market-based pay ranges?

The levels connect to specific titles (Program Assistant Advanced) and the level of work performed at that title. The work performed at a specific title is matched to market data.

4. Job Descriptions

Will my job duties change as a result of the study?

No, you will work with your manager late in the first quarter of 2018 to enter your job duties into an online system and finalize how your position maps to the job framework.

Who decides how my job is mapped to the job framework?

Your job will map to the job framework based on the duties you perform. Human Resources and your manager will work together to map your job to the job framework.

Are things going to become more standardized for similar positions across campus?

Yes, our goal is to provide greater consistency in job descriptions when the work performed is very similar. This consistency will allow employees and applicants to make better choices when considering career opportunities.

What if my job includes duties in more than one job family?

Your job can only be in one job family. If you have duties that are in more than one family, you need to determine your primary job duties by asking all of these questions:

  • Why does my position exist?
  • What are my most important duties?
  • What duties take up most of my time?

If you have job duties in other job families and sub-families, you will list them in the position description portion of your job description

How will the unique duties of positions be reflected in the job descriptions?

When a person or group of employees spend a substantial (typically 10% or more of their time) on unique duties, this will be included in the position description.

Will I have to reapply for my position once mapped to the new job framework?

No, the mapping of your job to the framework will not require that you reapply for the position.

5. Compensation

Will my job be compared to relevant market data and who selects the data?

We will identify appropriate market data for different positions. We will typically choose market data from organizations which we tend to provide talent to UW–Madison or attract talent away from UW–Madison. Our executive sponsors will make the final decision on our market comparators. The Title and Total Compensation Study teams will provide recommendations with input from various stakeholders across campus.

Will each job family and sub-family have a minimum and maximum on the pay range and will it be adjusted according to the market?

No, we will create a pay structure that is inclusive of all job families. We will match specific titles within a job family to the salary structure based on the duties performed in that job title and the market rate for positions in the external market that perform similar duties.

What if there is no market data for a specific position?

We will compare positions without market data to positions with market data who perform similar work at a similar level as defined by the level descriptors.

Will my base pay increase if it is below the market salary range?

It is difficult to answer this question until we know how large the discrepancies are between the market and current employee base pay. If your pay is lower than the minimum of the salary range, then your pay will be increased to the minimum over a specified period. The Vice-Chancellor of Finance and Administration is committed to finding additional funds to support competitive market pay for our employees, a goal in the strategic framework.

Will the mapping of my current job to the new job framework result in a base pay increase if I’m at a higher job level?

We will develop a new job framework (which includes job families, sub-families, and levels) in Phase Two and map your current job to this new job framework based on current job duties. In general, the mapping of positions to the new job framework will not result in a pay increase. However, the study may uncover some misclassification of employees in the current system. In these situations, OHR compensation and titling will work with the appropriate local HR representative to determine the needed adjustments.

If I have significant duties in a second job family/sub-family, will that pay range also be used to determine my base pay?

If a significant portion of your job includes duties from another job family and sub-family, your manager and local HR representative will take into consideration the market value of the additional duties when determining your base pay.

How is local cost of living factored into pay ranges?

The salary structure will be built based on ensuring a livable wage for our regular employees.

Will the study impact pending promotions or other rate adjustments or can they proceed as usual?

Promotions and rate adjustments can proceed as usual until systems and procedures begin to change during the implementation phase.

6. Benefits

Will my benefits change as a result of the study?

Benefits provided by the State of Wisconsin are out-of-scope for the project. The review of total compensation occurs in Phase Four. It is too early to tell what might change. In general UW–Madison has a practice of minimizing negative impacts to employees when transitioning to new systems.

7. Implementation

How will the transition to the new system take place?

Transition to the new system starts in phase five of the project and extends from August 2018 to March 2019. Employees and managers will receive extensive training throughout the implementation phase on using the new title and total compensation system.

How will supervisors/manages be trained to effectively make decisions about pay and promotional opportunities for employees?

Managers will be involved in building the job framework and will receive detailed training during the implementation phase on how to use the new title and total compensation system.