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Track HR Restructuring progress at their website.

University HR changes could take two years

Restructuring may eventually change human resource policies at Virginia Tech, but for now — and for up to two years — classified staff will see no change in personnel policies, leave, or benefits. In fact, any classified staff hired before July 1, 2006, will continue to have the option of remaining under the current state system until the end of their employment, even if they are transferred or promoted to other Tech staff positions.

Employees at all levels throughout the organization will be heavily involved in helping Human Resources and the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors to determine the shape of the new human resources system, according to Linda Woodard, assistant vice president of human resources. The process will take up to two years, in part to make sure that employees have opportunities during the process to share ideas and concerns.

As of July 1, all new salaried (non-faculty) staff hires will be designated "university staff" instead of classified staff and eventually will work under the new human resources system being developed. Until those policies have been approved, university staff will work under essentially the same policies and procedures as current classified staff, a move approved by the board of visitors on June 12.

The board of visitors also approved a new severance policy for those university staff members and faculty employees in case of budget reductions or reorganization. Details of that policy can be found at

Finally, the board also affirmed its commitment to communicate and consult with employees while the system is being designed and to give classified staff a chance (a minimum of every two years) to convert to university staff status.

According to Woodard, HR restructuring will take place in three phases. Design preparation and information gathering will include discussions with staff members and leaders and reporting results to a steering committee. Actual development of the new system most likely will start in early 2007 and will take until the fall or end of the year. During this time, various HR restructuring teams will create changes in processes, policies, and programs. The third phase is final approval by key decision makers and the board of visitors. Once implemented, probably between March and June 2008, there will be a 90-day period for classified staff to decide whether to switch or not. [See more in the story below the following chart.]

Some things will not change even for university employees. University employees will be covered by state retirement, life insurance, health insurance, grievance procedures, and workers compensation. Areas that the HR teams may consider include compensation; some benefits (other than those mentioned above); performance policies and incentives; and workplace policies, such as standards of conduct and discipline, layoff, leave and disability, and employment/promotion.

Once the process is complete, employees will be provided with detailed comparisons of the state and university systems, and classified staff will have the opportunity to change to the new system. Until that happens, classified staff members do not need to do anything and will continue to work under current policies even if they change to another Virginia Tech staff position, Woodard said.

HR Plans and PoliciesClassified StaffUniversity Staff
AuthoritySubject to Virginia Personnel Act and state Dept. of Human Resources policiesSubject to the university's board of visitors, with the exception of the following: retirement, health insurance, staff grievance procedure, and workers compensation. Until the new HR system is developed, the board of visitors has approved for university staff to be covered by the same HR policies as classified staff with minor revisions.
Retirement SystemNo changeNo change
Health InsuranceNo changeNo change (All employees remain covered under state health insurance.)
Grievance ProcedureNo changeNo change (All salaried nonfaculty employees are covered by state Grievance Policy.)
Workers CompNo changeNo change (All employees remain covered under state workers compensation.)
Classification System (role titles)No changeUniversity has the authority to consider changes in the classification system
Compensation System (pay bands, salary adjustment policies)No changeUniversity has the authority to consider changes, such as a new pay structure and new compensation policies
Benefits (other than health, retirement, workers compensation)No changeUniversity has the authority to consider changes, such as alternative disability plans or cafeteria benefits plans
Employee RecognitionNo changeUniversity has the authority to consider changes, such as new or expanded policies for employee awards and recognition
Performance Management Policies (performance plans and evaluations)No changeUniversity has the authority to consider a new employee performance evaluation policy and other changes, such as incentives for performance
Standards of ConductNo changeUniversity has the authority to consider changes in policies for employee conduct and corrective discipline
Layoff PoliciesNo changeUniversity has the authority to consider changes in policies addressing the layoff process and the placement and recall provisions
Severance PolicyNo changeUniversity has the authority to consider different severance benefits policies; may negotiate with VRS to convert severance pay to VRS credit
Leave PoliciesNo changeUniversity has the authority to consider different policies to provide paid leave for various purposes
Employment PoliciesNo change (Employees may still remain "classified" if they move to other staff positions within the university.)University has the authority to consider new policies for recruitment, selection, and hiring. May develop promotional policies, including effect of promotion on compensation.

HR design process detailed

The process for designing the new human resources system will include several important phases: information gathering, development, and implementation.

The information gathering phase, which is planned for fall 2006, will include group sessions with staff, key stakeholders, and leadership, and it will include discussions at sites convenient for off-campus university employees. It is also likely that other methods, such as surveys, will be used to provide the broadest possible participation. Linda Woodard, assistant vice president of human resources, emphasized that employee input will be critical for the entire process to succeed.

The development phase will rely on design teams for each of the major elements identified through the initial information-gathering efforts. In addition to representatives from HR, the design teams will include classified staff, university staff, supervisors, and administrators. Communications with employees will also be an important part of the design process, and periodic opportunities to discuss the work of the design teams will be provided.

"We believe that restructuring provides a significant opportunity to think about the types of policies and programs that will best meet the needs of the university and our employees," Woodard said. "During the development phase of the new HR system, we plan to look at what other organizations do and provide information to our design teams about successful programs. The teams will be guided by the university's strategic plan and other documents that should provide the foundation principles for the new system."

Following approval of the new HR system by the board of visitors, Human Resources will coordinate a comprehensive program, which will include training for supervisors and information sessions for staff. Classified employees will have a 90-day period to decide if they want to change to the new system; employees who do not want to become university staff under the new human resources policies will be able to remain in the current classified system. University staff (hired on or after July 1, 2006) will also receive information about how the changes in the university HR system will affect them.