As an organization, Marriott emphasizes that if you take care of employees, they will take care of your customers. One of the cornerstones of taking care of employees is providing a fair wage for a day’s work. In today’s competitive world, it is often difficult for educational, social services, hotels and others to compete with firms and companies that are profit-based and have greater margins to work with. Nonetheless, Illinois Central College, in the spirit of offering a fair wage for a day’s work, began an extensive wage audit two years ago.
As in many growing organizations, the original human resource policies that drove the compensation structure had become outdated. There was lack of parity between like positions—the job classification system was not adequately aligned to skill sets and knowledge and job descriptions needed to be standardized. Compression in certain jobs had occurred and the college lacked a clear means to adjust salary offers to new hires to compete in the local economy. While none of these problems were devastating, they still created internal and external tensions in compensating ICC employees and seriously impacted ICC’s ability to attract and retain the best people.
The two-year study prompted a review of the college’s pay practices and systems. More than 200 job descriptions were created that were more accurate in describing requisite skills and knowledge and were more compliant with state and federal standards. Employees, their supervisors and their senior managers had multiple opportunities to provide input on things as broad-based as job requirements, job titles, skill levels and comparative benchmarks. If job descriptions and classifications were not acceptable, they had opportunities to appeal. More than 60 appeals were heard by the employee services department, with about half of them resulting in adjustments.
A group representing the three basic salary classifications worked through the massive quantities of input. This team reviewed job descriptions, comparative data and skill sets and created a rank order for the reviewed jobs. Salary ranges were established and benchmarked against other colleges and local organizations. As a result of their work, about 30 full-time positions were found to be below the appropriate salary range. These positions were adjusted to fall within the ranges.
While the effort took two years to complete, it resulted in an effective overhaul of ICC’s compensation system. A more formal pay structure and methodology was developed to make compensation decisions. A birthday holiday benefit was added for full-time employees, and a job description appeal process was added. The completion of the audit marks a significant accomplishment in ICC’s compensation structure. But there is still more to be done.
There is still much to do in the area of compensation. ICC needs to address pay compression issues and develop a stronger performance evaluation process. The recognition system also requires some updating. Merit pay and incentive pay also need investigation. While these issues still remain, there is also the need to continue to monitor the work that has been done, including annual review of salary ranges, market adjustments and assessment of financial impact of compensation on the operational effectiveness of the college. Nonetheless, the completion of the wage audit represents one of the most important steps the college has taken in caring for its employees. By taking care of our employees, ICC also provides our community with an able and willing employee group to meet the ever emerging needs of our district. IBI