Manager resources

Compensation guide

The information provided in the tabs below provides background and implementation details on the Compensation Plan for University and Academic Professionals. The design of the new compensation plan is the result of an integration of the key components of market pricing, individual career development, performance management, and compensation. Critical to the success of the plan is how each component works together to support the overall objectives. While all parts of the plan reinforce each other, compensation is a key factor throughout. The information provided here describes the design of the new compensation program and how it will be administered to provide competitive and equitable compensation for university and academic professionals in support of VCU's strategic goals and overall mission.

Compensation structure

Broadly Defined Benchmark Jobs  

The new compensation program is supported by a job structure that groups broadly defined jobs by occupational or functional areas (i.e. finance, IT, research) into job families using benchmark job titles found in the general labor market. The job family structure is established and maintained by VCU Human Resources.   

A market-based salary range is established for each standardized job title based on external salary data for similar work by other comparable employers in the relevant recruitment area (e.g., local, state, regional, or national). The mid-point of the market range is the 50th percentile in the relevant market. The range is then extended from the mid-point down to a beginning rate and up to a high rate. The market ranges are maintained and updated periodically by VCU Human Resources.

Target compensation ranges

Market ranges are utilized similarly for both new and continuing employees. Typically, employees new to the job or recently promoted have salaries at the lower end of the market range (beginning). Employees who are fully qualified, fully capable, and strong performers would have salaries in the middle of the market range (mid-range). And employees at the top of the market range would have advanced qualifications, unique skills or capabilities, or would be sustained high performers over many years (high). 

Market-based pay range

Beginning: New hires or recently promoted with emerging capabilities

Mid-range: Strong performers; fully capable; fully competent

High: Unique or exceptional qualifications; outstanding experience or capability; sustained high performers

It is expected that, over time, most employees will have salaries in the middle of the market range. The starting base salary of a new or continuing employee is determined based on their qualifications and experience. Managers have authority to offer salaries within the first 75% of the market range; offers in the top 25% of the market range are reviewed and approved by VCU Human Resources.

Reaching the target salary range

Career Paths: Growing Your Career at VCU

The job family structure is a powerful career tool designed for career progression for almost every VCU job. It makes it easy to see what skills and qualifications you’ll need to progress in your current job family. Employees who are interested in trying something new can explore changing careers using the requirements and responsibilities of jobs in other job families as a guide. Each job in a job family will have its own market range. The market ranges will stack to form the new pay structure. 

Movement through the market ranges can be accomplished through a combination of merit increases and career path advancements in the current position (“promotions in place”) as well as through competitive promotions to new positions through the hiring/search process.

Promotions in place

Under the new HR plan, managers can support and reward employees as they progress through their career path. This is accomplished through career development planning as part of the annual performance review process. Employees work with their supervisors to create an annual career development plan that addresses personal and career development needs related to the employee’s current position or to prepare the employee for future career interests and aspirations. The plan identifies specific development opportunities to help the employee obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities in the coming year.  At the conclusion of the year, during the annual performance review process, the employee and supervisor discuss progress made against the prior year plan and develop a new career development plan for the year ahead.  

There are two ways an employee may advance in their career: (1) across their current market range and (2) up to a new market range.

There are four milestones in the career planning process to move across the market range:

Emerging: Applies basic knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to perform the necessary responsibilities while developing new specialized KSAs; may need guided supervision; has no or limited experience and tasks can be learned on the job; limited decision-making required

Proficient: Applies learned KSAs to a variety of tasks and projects; performs focused assignments that require prior experience; may need minimal guidance in addressing situations that are not routine

Accomplished: Performs broad and/or focused assignments requiring significant experience or specialist training in particular area; works under minimal supervision; applies KSAs to enhancing strategies and procedures; recognized by peers as a resource; problem solving requires analysis of unique issues/problems without precedent or structure

Expert: Applies KSAs to multiple components; leading knowledge and skill across or in leading multiple projects/orgs; demonstrates knowledge of trends in field; serves as leader and/or expert in role; provides coaching to others; applies KSAs to creating, developing, implementing, and enhancing strategies and procedures; has strategic focus

The second way for an employee to advance through their career path is to move up the job series to the next level in their position. Built within the new job family structure, most job titles have three levels:

Level 1: Entry level in knowledge, skills and performance; performs routine tasks; early career role

Level 2: Mid-career role with expanded ability to effectively manage more complex tasks; expanding knowledge within functional area; and understands and applies fundamental concepts

Level 3: Extensive related experience; relies on experience and judgment to complete tasks; leads projects of critical importance; high degree of working knowledge in field and recognized expert

For examples, a job series might be Accountant I, II, III; Senior Accountant I, II, III. Each job title in the series will have a unique market range. Employees are eligible for salary increases as they achieve milestones in their career path, both across the stages in their job series (emerging, proficient, etc.) and up to the next job title in the series (I, II, III).  

Base salary increases

There are three ways an employee’s base pay increases over time: (1) merit, (2) promotion, and (3) progression within the career path. More information on each follows:

  • Merit increases (also known as “Pay for Performance”): Employees are awarded raises in the annual salary increase process (“on cycle”) based on the assessment of performance as determined during the performance review process. These salary increases may also take into consideration market, equity, retention, and other compensable factors. Employees with salaries at the top of the market range may receive the salary increase in the form of a lump sum payment. 

  • Career Path “Advancement” or Career Path “Promotion”: When employees advance through their career path, within their current position (e.g. “promotion in place”), they are eligible for a salary increase typically in the range of 3 to 5%. These promotions are typically “non-competitive," earned by acquiring additional knowledge and skills and successfully completing milestones in the career development plan as approved by the department head. The progression planned as part of career development may be through the same or to a different career path. These career advancements are supported by a written development plan as part of the performance management process.

  • Promotion: When employees change jobs to a position with a higher market range, they typically receive a salary increase. The new salary is determined within the higher market range based on their qualifications and experience (same as a new hire). These promotions are typically competitive, meaning earned through the recruitment and selection process.

What’s important to keep in mind is that the determination of an appropriate base salary for a new or continuing employees is determined the same way - based on where the individual’s qualifications and experience should fall based on the criteria established for the beginning, mid, and high segments of the market range. There are no percentage "caps" (e.g. 10% of prior salary) as are found in the current state classified compensation plan.    

Opportunities for salary increases
  • “Off Cycle” salary increases: Most salary increases are awarded during the annual merit process. However, off cycle increases may be granted under exceptional circumstances to address unanticipated situations that occur during the year. 

  • Transfer: When employees change jobs to a position with the same market range, the salary in the new range is determined based on their qualifications and experience. The salary may increase, decrease, or stay the same. 

  • Demotion: A demotion occurs when employees change jobs to a position with a lower market range. Demotions can be voluntary or involuntary. Typically there is a salary decrease with an involuntary demotion. Voluntary demotions can occur both competitively (through the hiring/search process) or non-competitively. When employees apply and are competitively selected for positions at a lower market range, the salary in the new range is determined based on their qualifications and experience (same as a new hire).

  • Temporary Pay (Acting Pay): Additional pay may be provided to employees who temporarily take on additional responsibilities substantially greater than their assigned position. Employees who take on a temporary assignment are placed in the new market range based on their qualifications and experience (same as a new hire). Temporary/Acting pay is typically provided for no more than one (1) year. Exceptions beyond the one (1) year require approval of the Provost or appropriate Vice President and HR. 

  • Salary Supplements/Overload Pay: tbd

  • Call Back, Stand-by, and shift differentials (Supplemental Pay): tbd

Managers are also encouraged to utilize non-monetary rewards such as paid leave granted as a form of reward and recognition. Up to five days of additional time off may be granted in a calendar year.

Job codes and market ranges

New Identifiers for Job Codes and Market Ranges

To ensure a smooth transition to the new job family structure, the human resources information system (HRIS) will be revised in 2017 to accommodate the new job codes and salary ranges associated with the new job families. 

2017 implementation schedule

Mid-January to Mid-March:
Present draft of job family structure and market ranges to senior leadership   

Mid-February to April:
Integrate feedback into job family structure, career pathing, and market pricing model

Post job family structure for university community preview

May to October:
Work with management to match current employee positions within new job family structure

Mid October:
Finalize position allocations

January 2018:
Notify classified staff of new university job equivalent through HR Redesign individualized enrollment letters

Important to note: 

  • For classified staff hired July 1, 2016 or after, this will be a new job code assignment. 
  • For classified staff hired prior to July 1, 2016, the matches will not be a permanent job code assignment but a job code crosswalk in anticipation of those opting into the University Compensation and Career Plan.
  • For current Administrative and Professional Faculty, this will be a new job code assignment to occur in conjunction with the contract renewal process. For most administrative and professional faculty, the effective date of the transition to the University Plan will be July 1, 2018.

VCU will provide an online decision assistance tool to review the new plan with the current plan for classified employees. The decision to transition to the new plan will be reported to VCU HR through an online portal currently being designed by the HRIS team.