Changes to the categorization of new hires as of July 1

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa .– Starting July 1, Penn State will begin transforming the way it categorizes staff positions, starting with new hires, based on recommendations from the university’s Strategic Budget Task Force , in its 2019 report. The first of the three planned phases of the transformation will only affect new hires of staff posted after July 1.

Together, the progressive updates will bring Penn State in line with best practices, increase clarity for new and current employees, and improve the University’s ability to compete for the most qualified applicants.

The task force, tasked in December 2018 by Nicholas Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost, and David Gray, Senior Vice President of Finance and Business / Treasurer, reviewed the University’s budget processes and recommended several changes for create a more sustainable financial model.

Among the changes recommended by the working group, one is to move away from the current practice of categorizing general funds as “permanent” or “temporary”. At Penn State, staff have traditionally held “permanent” or “term” positions. As a rule, permanent posts have been funded from the permanent budget and fixed-term posts have been funded from the temporary budget.

Over time, this approach has had the unintended effect of wrongly implying that permanent positions are more secure, while term positions are less so.

Effective July 1, for new hires only, truly temporary positions that have an end date will be labeled as term positions, and all other new positions will be in the permanent category. In the second phase, these categories can be renamed to better reflect their meaning.

The first of three phases of this transition focuses on classifying new hires to match the new approach. Operating simultaneously, phases two and three are already underway and are expected to continue until June 2021. Phase two is devoted to the review of all existing staff positions and their categorization based on these guidelines. Phase three focuses on non-tenured faculty positions to determine if an update of the position name would be beneficial.

“This transition will be positive for many University employees who are currently in term positions but whose work does not have a scheduled end date,” said Gray. “Over the next year, we will be working with these employees to move them to permanent positions, thereby eliminating the need for annual contract renewals.

“In terms of recruiting, this change also allows us to move away from the language in job postings that describes long-term positions as being on a ‘one-year contract with excellent repayment possibility’. . It doesn’t make sense for postings to include such a description when we know a position is destined to exist for many years. We know this verbiage creates unnecessary worry for potential candidates, and removing it removes a barrier to recruiting the best and brightest employees in the Penn State family. “

Gray said additional transition information for current employees will be provided throughout the year.

Phase 1: Hiring new employees

As of July 1, all hiring managers will be asked to classify new hires into permanent or term positions based on job description and work performed. The last step in the first phase is to update all active vacancies posted before July 1 to align them with the new approach. Additional information and support for hiring managers is available from your unit’s strategic human resources partner or human resources consultant.

“We want our budget managers to have flexibility in their ongoing efforts to attract top talent while managing their financial resources wisely,” Jones said. “Making job category changes for new hires is an important first step in implementing our new University-wide budgeting approach. “

Additional phases

In the second phase, current staff positions will be reviewed against the new approach, and a process will be developed to reclassify term to permanent employees, as appropriate. Additionally, new category names will be explored and potentially adopted to reflect these changes.

In the third phase, the categorizations of non-tenure professors will be examined. This process will involve the University Faculty Senate, which will help determine whether non-permanent faculty job category changes are necessary. Both phases are expected to be completed by June 30, 2021, the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year.

“The new categories will make budgeting easier and more accurate, improve Penn State’s ability to compete for the most qualified employees, and align Penn State with best practices and our peers in higher education,” Jones said.

“An updated budget approach gives us the opportunity not only to streamline work and improve financial flexibility, but also to better strategize in the areas of workforce planning and recruiting,” said Lorraine Goffe , vice president of human resources at Penn State. “Classifying employees according to their duties, as opposed to funding sources, is the right decision for effective recruitment and job classification. “

For answers to general questions about these changes, please read these FAQs. Unit specific questions should be directed to the appropriate strategic partner or human resources consultant. Budget-related questions regarding posts should be directed to unit finance officers.

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