The Johns Hopkins University and Health System have
recently completed the design of a new job classification
system. For the university, this new system, scheduled for
implementation in spring 2006, will replace the current pay
grade system that has been in place for more than 20 years.
"This is a monumental effort and a very significant
one," said Belinda Crough, the university's senior director
for compensation and project manager. "We are changing our
classification system, and the new one will be very
different from how we currently classify jobs."
The university and health system embarked in August
2004 on an extensive enterprisewide staff compensation
study with the assistance of Watson Wyatt consultants. The
result is a role- and contribution-based classification
system with market-based salary ranges. Each position will
be assigned a role (operations, professional or leadership)
and one of six levels based on its contribution to the
organization. Salary ranges will be assigned to each
position based on what the market is paying for similar
types of positions.
"Basically, we hope that managers and supervisors will
find the new system much easier to work with and more in
line with their day-to-day operational requirements,
especially in relation to defining jobs and recruiting,
motivating and rewarding staff," Crough said.
The university's current system, which assigns a pay
grade for each and every position, is viewed as cumbersome
to maintain, hard to understand and unresponsive to the
changing and dynamic work environment at Johns Hopkins,
according to Charlene Hayes, vice president for human resources.
"It became clear to me that we are spending too much
time on a process that is no longer meeting the needs of
our managers," Hayes said. "One of my goals is to weed out
the time-consuming processes that prevent us from doing
more value-added work and create systems and processes that
support and facilitate the work of Johns Hopkins."
The opportunity to replace the current system
presented itself with the onset of the HopkinsOne project,
a massive effort to re-engineer all the university's and
health system's financial and administrative processes, one
of which is human resources. The core components of
HopkinsOne are scheduled to go live in July 2006, the
earliest time that the new compensation system would be
A team of compensation analysts in the Office of Human
Resources has begun the review of more than 9,000 positions
using the new classification system. To assist the team,
advisory groups composed of subject matter experts from
constituencies throughout the institutions are being
formed. The most important tasks of the advisory groups are
to provide information and answer questions about jobs
under review and to give the compensation team feedback and
input on its job classifications.
To date, jobs in human resources and research support
have been reviewed. The advisory groups for the
development, financial and office/clerical/administrative
support job families will be convened next. While the
reviews are being conducted, new salary ranges that are
more aligned with the market are being developed. At the
same time, the university has also begun examining its pay
policies and procedures with the goal of updating them and
developing new ones as appropriate.
"We want our pay policies and procedures to be more
flexible and closely aligned with the new classification
system to the extent possible, and as our financial
resources would allow," Crough said.
At the university, the new pay program applies only to
staff members. Corporate officers, faculty and other
academic appointees, fellows, students and bargaining unit
members are not included.
Crough said that some employees are concerned about
the impact of the new system on their salaries.
"What folks need to know is that their current pay
will not be reduced as a direct result of their job
classification in the new system, [and] because the
university will still need to live within its current
financial resources, staff should not automatically expect
that they will be getting a salary increase with the
implementation of the new system in the spring of 2006,"
During the implementation period, job reclassification
reviews have been suspended to devote time to completing
this study. However, during the next year departments can
still recognize and reward staff for significant additional
responsibilities or changes in job duties through a salary
increase. When this occurs, the staff member's job title
and grade will not be changed.
Hayes said that the new system will not focus on the
minutia attached to each position but rather on the general
role the individual plays and the manner in which he or she
contributes to the organization.
"It is a whole new way of thinking, and it is my hope
that employees will begin to focus more on their
contributions to the university and less on their pay
grades," she said. "Our hardest work is likely ahead. While
it has not been easy to create the system, facilitating the
culture shift that is yet to come among managers and
employees is a monumental task."
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