Frequently Asked Questions Compensation Program

My title is Director/Manager and I perform some supervisory functions. Why has my position been assigned to an Individual Contributor or Team Lead role and not Manager?

Many titles across campus were not changed, even though they may at first seem to suggest that an individual has supervisory responsibilities. Manager/director titles were retained because they may indicate responsibilities over a general area or function rather than necessarily supervision of multiple employees. Even though an individual may have some supervisory responsibilities-overseeing an administrative support position, supervising the completion of projects and assignments, or providing general guidance-for the purpose of establishing career stages, our focus was on the overall function of a position. Positions were only assigned to the "manager" role if the position met all Career Level Guide criteria for that role.

I have more experience than the typical training and experience listed in the Career Level Guide for my career stage. Why was my position not placed in a higher career stage?

The Career Level Guide was used to determine the appropriate level for a position based on the minimum requirements for that job. We asked supervisors this question: "If the position were to become vacant, what would be the minimum qualifications you would expect of a new hire?" The market reference range for each position provides the flexibility to reward different levels of individual development and performance.

What does "position within market reference range" mean?

This refers to where the employee's pay is located within the market reference range: near the lower end (Developing Zone), middle (Mid-zone), or upper end (Premium Zone). The 40-50% range spread provides the flexibility to reward different levels of individual performance and competencies. Once the Compensation Program is fully implemented, your experience and performance will guide where you are paid within the market reference range. This means that if you are a:

  • Developing employee who is successfully meeting expectations while continuing to grow and develop in your role, your pay would most likely be in the developing zone;
    Or, if you are an:
  • Experienced employee who is fully meeting goals and competency expectations, your pay will likely be in the Mid-zone;
    Or, if you are an:
  • Experienced employee who consistently delivers exceptional competencies and performance, you would likely be paid in the Premium Zone.

I am an experienced employee with consistently good performance, why is my pay located close to the minimum of the market reference range?

The current location of your pay within the market reference range DOES NOT yet take into account your experience or performance. In future years, while we continue to make adjustments to bring employee pay to the minimum of the range, we will also begin to use experience and performance measures to move employees to the appropriate place within their range. Adjusting pay to reflect individual contributions will be a multi-year process, but is a goal we are committed to attaining. The introduction of the Performance Development Program this fall will provide us with the information needed to make many of these adjustments in future years.

Who approves the amount of my salary increase?

The president, provost, vice presidents, deans, and department/program heads are responsible for increases in their areas. In the new Performance Development and Compensation Program, managers will actively partner with the executive director of budgets and compensation to ensure all compensation decisions are consistent with the established pay policies.

Are all positions market-priced?

No. It is standard practice within compensation philosophy to market-price or "benchmark" at least 50% of your positions. At W&L, we compare the pay of approximately 80% of our exempt and non-exempt positions with similar positions at the top 25 national liberal arts colleges, based upon job content not position titles. Comparison salary data is obtained from published surveys from sources such as: The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, APPA-Leadership in Educational Facilities and the National Association of College & University Food Services.

How are non-benchmarked positions assigned to market reference ranges?

Where comparison market data is unavailable, the executive director of budgets and compensation assigns positions to market reference ranges by comparing them to similar benchmarked positions using criteria such as education, training and experience required, complexity of work, decision making and impact, and type of supervision. Position placement is then compared across departments and divisions, within career stages and within job families to confirm appropriate placement. Range assignments and internal benchmarks used to determine the pay range were reviewed with the appropriate dean/vice president and the department/program head.

What schools are included in the top-25 national liberal arts colleges' market comparison group?

The market for our positions includes those organizations we compete with for employees or with whom we have decided to compare ourselves. For the majority of positions we use the top 25 national liberal arts colleges as determined annually by the US News and World Reports. Washington and Lee University has consistently ranked within this group of school. See the current list of schools.

Is the cost of living (COL) in Lexington similar to the COL in the areas where the top 25 schools are located?

When establishing market reference ranges, we did not adjust market data to account for cost of living differences amongst the top 25 liberal arts colleges. These institutions are located across the country in both rural and urban areas, some with a higher COL than Rockbridge County, and others with a lower COL. The median (the middle number) is used instead of the average because it is not affected by particularly high or low values and likely reflects a COL similar to our own. Anecdotal information from others schools in the top 25 group supports the fact that it is common practice within the peer group not to adjust for this factor when comparing pay.

How often will the market reference ranges be reviewed?

The executive director of budgets and compensation will complete salary surveys annually to monitor that the market reference ranges we have established for our positions continue to be appropriate based upon the median market value for each position. Ranges will be updated as necessary based upon these findings; typically annually.

Will my salary be capped if it is at the top of or above the market reference range maximum?

No, we will not be capping or "red circling" individual pay. There are a number of possible reasons why an individual is paid close to or above the maximum of the range and the executive director of budgets and compensation will closely review these situations to ensure that pay levels correspond appropriately to the employee's job, based on market, internal equity and performance contribution to Washington and Lee. Employees who consistently perform their job in an exceptional manner, or who possess and demonstrate exceptional skills and competencies may be appropriately paid at our above-the-market maximum. Because an individual whose pay falls at or above the maximum is receiving a premium above market pay, he/she may receive smaller percentage increases or may receive lump sum spot awards in order to slow base pay growth. The executive director of budgets and compensation will continue to assess the market reference ranges to ensure they are updated to reflect market changes.

Why is my salary still below the minimum of my market reference range?

There are two reasons why an individual's salary may not have been brought to the minimum of the range this year. First, if there are documented performance issues or an individual's qualifications do not meet the requirements for the position, an adjustment to the minimum would not have been given. Second, and most frequently, the increase required to bring an individual to the minimum was significant, and for financial reasons, will take multiple years to accomplish. Next year-depending on the availability of funds-we will continue to bring employees at least to the minimum of their ranges by increasing salaries beyond the regular salary pool amounts.

I received an adjustment to the minimum of my market reference range this year; does this adjustment preclude me from receiving adjustments in future years?

No. While continuing to make adjustments to bring employee pay to the minimum of the range, we will begin to use experience and performance measures to move employees to the appropriate place within their range. Employees who
received an adjustment to the minimum may be eligible for additional adjustments based upon their performance and experience in future years.

How is starting pay determined?

Starting salaries are based on candidates' job qualifications, work experience, salary history, and the Market Reference Range for each position. Starting salaries typically fall within the minimum and midpoint of the salary range. In order to attract highly skilled and experienced performers or to respond to specific market conditions, however, exceptions may be made.

What should employees do if they disagree with their career stage?

Please first communicate with your supervisor or department head, and the executive director of budgets and compensation to discuss why your position was assigned to the current career stage. You may review the relevant Career Level Guide for specific information about the minimum requirements and characteristics of positions in your career stage.