| 03.18.2018

Out of respect – Policy change provides better opportunities for UI employees


A  common complaint among University of Idaho employees is that UI doesn”t provide adequate compensation for faculty and staff.

Low compensation doesn”t just mean that university employees aren”t appropriately paid. They also have limited opportunities when it comes to moving between departments.

In the past, if internal employees wanted to make a lateral move – switching from their department of entry to a different department or college – they could not negotiate a pay raise with the person who selected them for their new position.

However, thanks to Vice President of Finance Brian Foisy, this practice is different now. Currently, internal employees who make lateral moves within the university are eligible for pay raises, but not entitled to them.

While this might not seem like a monumental change, the decision has the potential to have a large impact on students. Even though the decision directly affects faculty and staff, it”s something students can benefit from as well.

When employees aren”t compensated appropriately, it can lead to a decrease in faculty morale and high employee turnover rates, which then impacts the learning environments of students.

Not only will this change help improve employee morale, but it will also provide faculty and staff with greater mobility.

Employees value that mobility. Before this change in practice, UI employees were essentially stuck in the job they came into the university with, with no motivation to move between departments and diversify their skills. In this position, if an employee was offered a similar job with higher pay at another institution, the choice was easy. This likely contributed to the absurdly high staff turnover rates.

This decision doesn”t come without its downsides. In an article published in The Argonaut, Brian Foisy said if an employee makes a lateral move, the department they transferred to might not have enough money in its budget to fund the increase in pay. In these situations, employees may not receive an increase in their salary like they were hoping for, but the point is that UI employees have the opportunity to receive higher pay when they couldn”t before.

While this change might pose some challenges for the university, the benefits will ultimately outweigh any potential costs.

Low morale among UI faculty and staff is a real problem, and low pay is a large contributor to it. But money isn”t the only factor. Faculty and staff also don”t feel respected. Allowing employees the opportunity to move around the university and potentially increase their salaries is an example of how to increase morale on multiple levels.

Yes, this change in practice is largely to do with pay, but it”s also to do with respect. The university has listened to the needs of its employees with this decision. People heard that employees valued mobility, and by granting them that mobility, UI in turn has shown the employees that they are valued as well.  

– CB

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