VCU releases draft changes to modernize HR policy for classified staff, A/P faculty

Among the proposed changes are enhancements in employee career development, added flexibility for paid leave.

VCU releases draft changes to modernize HR policy for classified staff, A/P faculty

Draft recommendations to enhance the Virginia Commonwealth University human resources  policy for classified staff and administrative and professional faculty were released by the university Monday at the start of a four-week open review and feedback period.

The Great Place: HR Redesign is part of VCU’s Great Place Initiative. HR Redesign committees — members of which are a diverse representation from across all levels of the university — collected information from university surveys and town hall events and reviewed best practices in higher education and among public and private organizations to shape the draft policy. VCU is encouraging employees to provide feedback online at greatplace.vcu.edu/policy until March 17.

Among the drafted changes are enhancements to career development, market- and merit-based pay and promotional opportunities for university employees, said Susan Carkeek, senior adviser to the president for human resources. 

“This is the first look people will get at the committee’s work over the past year,” Carkeek said. “The bottom-line goal is to be able to recruit and retain the very best people so VCU can continue to have an amazing impact on the lives of the students and communities we serve.”

One of the proposed changes in career development — a popular topic among employees — would institute promotion-in-place opportunities for employees to grow within their jobs, Carkeek said. Currently, the only way for employees to advance in their careers is to change positions.

“There is no structure of being promoted in your current position,” Carkeek said. “One of the most effective strategies that universities have employed, and it’s worked wonderfully for faculty, is the idea of rank — assistant professor, associate professor, full professor. That’s promotion-in-place, because the jobs don’t change, but they have a promotional track available to them.

“The career paths we are developing for classified staff and A/P faculty employ a similar model.”

Under the proposed changes, VCU employees would still enjoy the university’s competitive retirement and health care options, Carkeek said. Sick leave, annual leave and personal leave — currently accrued and organized separately — would be combined into paid time off, adding work/life flexibility for employees.

The changes aim to modernize VCU’s HR practices, said Cathleen C. Burke, assistant vice president for human resources.

“It is in the best interest of the university to focus on our employees and provide opportunities to have long and thriving careers here,” Burke said. “Redesigning our HR plan is a decided shift in how we do business. A modern and flexible HR plan will guide how our current employees grow professionally, as well as help us recruit a progressive and diverse workforce for the future.”

Comments provided during the review period will be taken into consideration as the university finalizes the policy. The target launch date for VCU’s redesigned HR plan is January 2018.

“We’re excited about it,” Carkeek said. “The more people that provide comment, I think, the better the end product will be.”