Compensation Policy 



The board approved a salary pool increase of 2.5%. Why is the general increase given to most staff 2.0%?

The 2.5% pool of funds available for staff salary increases will be used for:

  1. general salary increases equivalent to 2.0% of current base pay (for most staff), and
  2. market and internal equity increases for a limited number of positions across the university.


What role does the staff senate compensation committee play in making recommendations to the university?

The staff senate compensation committee is appointed by the staff senate to draft a proposal for staff compensation for review by the senate, before being presented to the Budget Task Force for their consideration.  After the university budget has been approved by the board of trustees, the committee submits a proposal recommending the distribution of funds available for staff salary increases first to the senate for review and then to Human Resources.

This year the staff senate compensation committee proposed to Human Resources that the 2.5% staff salary increase pool be distributed in the following manner: 

  • 2.0% to be divided equally among all eligible staff members in increments of $1,000; not to exceed an increase higher than 5.0% nor lower than 0.08% of the staff member’s current salary

  • 0.5% for market/equity increases

  • 0.0% for performance-based merit increases

The committee’s proposal was included in the overall proposal that Human Resources presented to the president’s cabinet. In consultation with Human Resources, the president’s cabinet approved a 2.0% across-the-board increase to maximize the benefit to all staff while minimizing compensation compression and still allowing for needed market and internal equity adjustments. After receiving the president’s approval on how the salary increase pool will be distributed, Human Resources notified the staff senate compensation committee of the outcome and invited their questions.


What positions will be eligible for market and internal equity adjustments?

The allocation of market and internal equity adjustments this year will largely focus on market adjustments related to the Department of Labor (DOL) FLSA legislation which increases the annual salary exemption threshold for exempt staff from $23,600 to $47,476. Human Resources is in consultation with cabinet members regarding exempt staff who currently fall below the threshold and is developing plans for addressing this new rule.

Additionally, some Puget Sound positions may need adjustments based on how they are currently paid compared to other positions in the external labor market and/or at Puget Sound. To ensure that we are able to retain staff and/or attract qualified candidates in areas falling below external market comparisons, some staff members will receive a market adjustment in addition to the 2.0% general increase. Internally, adjustments may be warranted when individuals in comparable positions with similar experience are paid differently, or when individuals in comparable positions with different amounts of experience are paid the same amount.


Why aren’t we providing merit increases in 2016-17?

The current focus is to achieve 100% participation in Puget Sound’s recently updated performance appraisal process and to improve that process to provide a meaningful foundation upon which supervisors and staff can set and reach individual goals that further Puget Sound's ability to meet its strategic objectives. Annual reviews also provide the opportunity to recognize and reward staff members’ efforts, performance and achievement of goals.  Staff Senate, the Cabinet, and Human Resources agree that the performance appraisal process is an essential foundation that should be in place before consideration of a structured merit program.


What does it mean to be performing below expectations?

Staff members who have been or will be formally apprised of below-expected job performance may not receive the 2.0% general increase. This includes staff placed on notice of possible termination of employment through the performance review process, a formal performance development plan, or other form of written corrective action. Decisions about these uncommon circumstances will be made by the department head and the division cabinet member in consultation with Human Resources.


What is the lowest general increase that a staff member can expect?

No staff member in a regular position will receive an increase of less than 2.0% of his or her current base pay rate, unless a staff member has performed below expectations or was hired after March 31, 2016.


Does the university always grant general salary increases based on the staff member’s current base pay rate?

No. The total funding available for salary increases is recommended by each year’s Budget Task Force, considered by the president, and then forwarded to the board of trustees for approval. Because the funding and overall conditions change from year to year, the allocation plan approved by the president may change accordingly to best address circumstances and strategic objectives.


Do other universities typically award salary increases in this way?

Each organization chooses an approach to salary increases based on its resources, policies, and culture. Some organizations award only performance-based increases, some award across-the-board increases only, and some award flat-dollar or step increases only, while most attempt to annually balance equity, market competitiveness and meritorious performance against available resources by using some combination of these approaches. In some years, organizations are not able to offer salary increases at all.


How do Puget Sound’s staff salary increases compare with other employers?

Puget Sound’s 2016-17 staff increase is competitive compared with our regional peers. Of the 11 northwest independent colleges that responded to an April 2016 survey, the median 2016-17 staff salary increase pool is 2.0% for both exempt and non-exempt staff. This figure is less than Puget Sound’s staff salary increase pool of 2.5% and equal to the 2.0% general increase most Puget Sound staff will receive.  The majority of these institutions have salary pool increases ranging from 2% to 3%, with one institution having an increase of less than 2% and two institutions not offering increases in 2016-17. Some schools will offer across-the-board increases only; some will have market, equity and/or merit adjustments; and some will use a combination of these approaches.


How has the cost of living changed during the last twelve months?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers [CPI-U] nationally was 0.33% higher during the most recent twelve-month period than during the previous twelve-month period. Comparing the same periods, the average CPI-U in the Seattle – Tacoma – Bremerton regional CPI-U increased by 1.57%.


How has the annual salary pool increase been distributed in recent years?