Nearly all Pitt staff received performance reviews, committee told


Around 98 percent of the 7,234 staff members on Pitt’s Oakland campus received a performance review this year, and Mark Burdsall, assistant vice chancellor for Human Resources, said HR will be following up on the 146 people who didn’t.

Burdsall gave the updated figures at the Senate Budget Policies Committee on Nov. 20. He also shared the status of the Shaping the Workplace program to review and modernize Pitt’s compensation and benefits system.

Performance reviews

By the end of October, all of Pitt’s responsibility centers had submitted compliance forms detailing how many people had receive performance reviews.

Burdsall said most of those who didn’t receive reviews were in areas with very heavy COVID-related responsibilities, such as the Center for Vaccine Research.

“To me, we’re not done until we’re at 100 percent,” he said.

This year’s focus was on compliance. Earlier next year, HR plans to release a new review form that is a condensed version of the previous standards. The old form had nine standards or 12 for supervisors; the new one will have four or five. The last step in developing the form is adding a diversity, equity and inclusion standard, with help from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The new form will be rolled out as a pilot in the 2021-22 fiscal year and become the default form starting in 2022-23.

Burdsall said they hope to, at some point in the future, make the forms available for people to complete online. In addition, a new supervisor training program will include performance management. The new training is rolling out now with a 68-person trial group — split between new and more experienced supervisors.

Shaping the Workplace

Shaping the Workplace is the named given to the modernization and holistic review of Pitt’s compensation and benefits system when David DeJong became vice chancellor for HR last year. The review started in 2017 under the name Total Rewards.

The program involves converting a system of 82 job classifications, which was implemented in 1999, to one based on job categories that will allow more accurate market comparisons.

“It was a system that was good at the time,” Burdsall said, “but is now not user friendly.”

Within each job grouping or family, there will be levels of jobs that will be more specific.

For instance, in the CFO’s office currently, there are classifications for Financial 1, Financial 2, etc. The Financial 1 classification could include entry-level accountants, bookkeepers and journal-entry specialist, who are all in the same salary range. It’s then difficult to benchmark against similar jobs.

Under the new system, accountants would be in the same category, and HR could more easily benchmark against what other entry-level, mid-level or senior accountants make both inside and outside the University.

The process started in 2017 with employees answering a questionnaire about what their job includes. From there, HR analyzed the jobs to group those with similar roles and then started benchmarking against similar positions.

These job groupings were given to leadership in each area to review. For instance, any responsibility center that had accountants on staff would have someone involved in reviewing that job grouping. This process is just about complete, and early next year, the job groupings will be given to senior University leadership to review.

The next steps will be structuring University jobs into career paths and developing a market-based salary and benefits structue, then educating supervisors and others about the new pay structure.

Burdsall said they hope to move into the planning and implementation stage in February and complete the process by August.

The new compensation system should allow HR to look at equity within a responsibility center and across the University for people doing similar jobs. Burdsall said this will, over time, allow the University to look at, “How do we use the annual increase more strategically? How do we use opportunities for the University to spend its salary dollars in a more strategic equitable way?”

Adriana Maguiña-Ugarte, a staff member in the Anthropology department, pointed out that if salaries are more equitable across the University, it might mean fewer people wanting to move to other areas because the salaries might be better. Now, Maguiña-Ugarte said, “The reality is that different RCs, different schools, have different budgets; they pay differently.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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