Campus's Response on the Human Resource Initiatives

Excerpts From the Campus Response Sent to the Office of the President, Including Campus Comments and Management's Recommendations

During March and April the campus had a chance to respond to the Human Resource Management Initiatives developed by Office of the President. More than 300 Berkeley employees attended seven information sessions, and written comments were received from the largest number of employees ever.

Here are excerpts from the campus response sent to the Office of the President by Chancellor Tien, including campus comments and management's recommendations. (The full text is posted on the Berkeley Campus Personnel Office gopher, under "Announcements and Personnel News." In the near future, questions and answers from the information sessions will also be posted on the gopher.)

Campus Reaction

There is strong support for the move to a simpler, more flexible structure. However, employees are deeply concerned about the compensation proposals. They believe that the proposed timetables do not provide adequate time to review such massive changes, and that the formal review scheduled for July and August will preclude comment from many employees.

I. Philosophy and Program Structure

A work group focused on the philosophy statement. They felt that it should be more inclusive and alive, and should reflect a vision for the future.

Although the comments on the personnel program structure were few, the great majority were in favor of moving to a single program.

We strongly favor a one- tier system, and think the Office of the President has done an outstanding job of reducing a complex set of policies to a single manual that provides us with just about the right degree of campus autonomy.

Term Appointments: Employees felt that they needed more information about proposed benefits and rights to comment effectively. On the other hand, a majority of those who commented on term appointments felt that they were a useful tool to recognize legitimate variations in staffing needs.

We recommend that this category be established, but that the policy state that such positions are non- renewable.

Vacation Leave Accruals: The great majority of those who commented felt that accrual rates should be based strictly on seniority, not on level.

We recommend that vacation leave accruals be based solely on seniority, with current employees "grandparented" under the current accrual policies.

Hours of Work: We are very pleased that the new policies have eliminated references to standard work weeks and standard work hours. However, we believe that they should go even farther to actively encourage flexibility.

Definitions of Family: We recommend that the definition of family be expanded in personnel policies to include domestic partners.

II. Classification/Compensation

Although a few respondents supported the movement to variable pay in principle, campus comments were overwhelmingly negative.

Retirement Income: The overriding concerns were those around the erosion of base- building pay and the impact on retirement.

Performance Appraisal Systems: Most employees do not believe a variable pay system can work without highly skilled, well trained managers who know how to set goals and performance standards and to measure performance. The importance of buy- in on the part of faculty before implementation occurs was cited by several employees.

Implementation Schedule: The schedule was seen as unrealistic given the time needed for adequate training in pay for performance; establishment of systems; collection and analysis of adequate market data; and communication of more specific details about the proposed changes.

Information: Many employees felt that they could not comment effectively on the variable pay proposal until they can review specific examples of the impact of variable pay on salary and retirement income.

Funding: Many see the current funding base as insufficient to support a meaningful merit based pay program.

Incompatibility with the University Ethos: Many expressed concern that regardless of what might work in the private sector, the proposal would not work in the particular culture of the university. Concern was also raised about the impact of an incentive program on grant funded employees.

Variable pay was seen as setting up a competitive environment that would reduce motivation. Most saw themselves as highly motivated and loyal, having stayed through lean years and downsizing, and were offended at the suggestion that they would need to be prodded by incentive awards to do their best.

Streamlining compensation/classification: Streamlining, particularly the reduction in the number of classification titles, was seen as positive. A few expressed concerns about the impact of the reduction in titles on the layoff process.

Given these concerns, we see major morale problems unless a slower, strategic, continuous improvement approach is taken with regard to changes in the staff compensation systems.

Because of the strong opposition to variable pay, we urge that the university hold off for at least a year from setting aside any additional range adjustment money for non- base building increases. Further careful study is needed of the effect on salary related benefits before decisions are made. While we support the concept of pay for performance, we firmly believe that there must be sufficient funding to administer a true merit program, and that managers must be trained and held accountable for distinguishing performance based on results.

We recommend that the focus during this coming year be on clear delineation of the roles of the Office of the President and the campuses before decentralization of responsibilities occurs, and that systems support and appropriate tools be developed for evaluating the effectiveness of campus compensation and classification plans under the delegated authorities.

III. Training

Employees recognized the critical importance of a training structure to the success of the proposed initiatives. They believe that the process must be slowed down.

The proposed time frames are not sufficient, especially when employees are being asked to do different jobs within a completely new paradigm (in terms of teams, accountability, delegations of authority, etc.), and without the requisite tools, resources and skills. A campus training policy should guarantee employees the opportunity to attend a specified amount of relevant training. Supervisory and management training needs to be mandated.

We plan to hold campuswide focus groups this spring and summer through which we can determine what employees perceive to be their training needs.

In Conclusion

We very much appreciate the eagerness of the university to move toward fulfilling a new vision of human resources management. We look forward to an early move to a single program structure. We recommend that this be done with no further delay, except that--and this is a critical "except"--the formal review stage should be postponed until the fall. These changes are too important to allow the formal review to occur at a time when many employees are not able to participate.

In other areas, however (the compensation area in particular), much depends on further research (for example, into effective performance management systems in the public sector); employee input (after we have provided them more specific information, as recommended above); the development of program evaluation criteria; and, perhaps most important, the development of appraisal systems, training and tools required to do work in new ways. Thus, a slower, incremental approach would be most effective.


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