Saturday, December 1, 2012

Managers Set To Award Merit Pay At DNR

Negotiated pay raises for state employees?

Forget that old-timey collective bargaining model because state agency management is getting ready to hand down merit pay to the deserving, with the DNR leading the charge.

DNR employees found out last week through an all-Departmental email from Secretary Cathy Stepp that some merit pay awards for some permanent staffers will be awarded.

Employees can obtain more information through an electronic town hall meeting Monday morning, according to Stepp's email:

Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:12 PM
Subject: DNR to award merit pay
Dear Colleagues,
Even in these tight fiscal times, I believe DNR’s highest performing employees should be rewarded with merit pay.  I am pleased to announce that DNR will be one of the first Cabinet agencies to award merit pay.
To be successful, the department needs talented and motivated employees who can achieve high performance and productivity.  As a result, since we started at DNR, the Secretary’s Office has been working with our HR team to identify pay-for-performance strategies to reward our best employees. 
The Department Leadership Team worked together to develop the philosophy, strategy and guidelines for merit compensation:
  • Staff are awarded for their contributions in a fair and consistent manner; 
  • Managers/supervisors, staff, and HR all have roles in managing merit pay;
  • Merit is awarded roughly proportional among staff and supervisors, as well as field and central office staff; 
  • Under OSER rules, only permanent classified staff are eligible (e.g. appointed positions are not eligible) for merit;
  • The focus is on rewarding exceptional performance or results in the three categories described below; and
  • As promised, we are not going to use the new performance review forms as the basis for merit in this fiscal year).
How we will manage merit this fiscal year
One key review step we will employ in this process is a Merit Review Committee.  Comprised of two regional directors, two division administrators, the HR director, and a representative of the Secretary’s Office, this committee is charged with reviewing merit award nominations submitted from the divisions to ensure fairness and consistency.  This year’s committee is regional directors Dan Baumann and Jean Romback-Bartels, division administrators Pat Stevens and Paul Delong, a Human Resources representative and Director of the Office of Business Support and Sustainability Al Shea.
We will base merit awards for this round on last fiscal year’s performance and will be bound by the following:
  • No more than 1% of available salary can be used in total for merit;
  • While both lump sum and base-building awards will be allowed, the primary emphasis will be on lump sum awards;
  • Lump sum awards will be minimum of $500 and a maximum of $3,000; and
  • Very few, if any, base-building awards will be given and will be limited to no more than 4 in-range pay steps to a maximum of $4,000.
We will use a simple Discretionary Merit Compensation Form (DMCF) to document the circumstances that support any merit increase recommendation. You can nominate yourself or supervisors can nominate. The form is available on-line.  Here’s how to use it...
Merits will be awarded for excellence in one of the three following categories:
  • Sustained Superior Performance:  Sustained superior performance awards recognize employees who maintain a continuous record of superior performance of all significant duties assigned, is long lasting and exceeds the expectations of position duties.
  • Special Act or Service/Sustained Superior Performance in a Temporary Capacity:  Special act or service awards recognize employees who make a significant contribution to the agency by a one-time, non-recurring act or service, or for excellent execution of sustained temporary duties. Examples include: strong performance of a temporary assignment of duties in addition to employee's regular position, the exemplary handling of an emergency situation, or performance of unusually difficult duties for limited periods of time.
  • Suggestion or Invention:  Suggestion or invention awards recognize employees who identify an improvement that benefits the agency in some material way. The suggestion or invention must have been submitted in writing by the employee and approved in writing by management.   Examples include suggestions that: save the department significant fiscal resources, identifies process improvements tied to performance objectives, or identifies measures that improve operational efficiency.
DNR has been given the nod to be one of the first Cabinet agencies to implement merit, and we are using this ability to implement as expeditious a process as possible, so there will be some fairly short turn-around times! In keeping with that, initial recommendations will be due by close-of-business on December 7. Final awards submitted by the committee need to be approved by the Secretary’s Office, and then routed to the Office of State Employee Relations.  We anticipate that merit increases will be reflected in the late February or early March, 2013 paychecks.
Before closing, I want to address an area of concern that I think you know I am passionate about:  fair treatment of our colleagues who hold Limited Term Employment (LTE) appointments. While I am told that OSER rules, unfortunately, do not allow the provision of merit for LTEs, I want you to know that, within fiscal constraints, I am still committed to recognizing exemplary performance by LTEs. I do not know what form that will take at this time, but I felt it was important to state my intent as we move forward with merit.
We have planned an all-DNR town hall meeting for Monday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m.  You will have the ability to send in questions to me, an HR rep and others.  I hope you will plan to participate. Here are the particulars:
Title: December 2012 Secretary Cathy Stepp Town Hall Meeting
Date: Monday, December 03, 2012
Time: 9:50 AM CST
Duration: 1:20:59
Recognizing and rewarding exemplary work is critical to the success of any organization. Please will join me in celebrating the return of merit pay for the first time since 2008. I know that the entire Department Leadership Team believes this a very important tool for the department to be able to recognize and reward the excellence we have within our ranks.
Cathy Stepp


jimspice said...

Does she seriously use Edwardian Script and Comic Sans in her sig line? Or was that an embellishment of yours.

James Rowen said...

That's the way it's written.

Anonymous said...

Here is how a merit pay system works

You think we should permit the mine? Excellent merit achievement! Here is your reward.

You don’t think we should permit the mine? That’s not really the type of performance we were expecting; no reward for you.

Yes, all of the pieces of the plan are coming together.

Anonymous said...

Kinda sucks that merit pay is a bonus and not a raise. I guess that keeps retirement costs down for the state but means that state employees will be working as Walmart greeters after retirement. A nice thank you from a (not so) grateful public.

Anony Too said...

DNR professional integrity for sale: Cheap. Best offer: $500 - $3000.

LIMBO said...

Teachers recently got $60 raises per paycheck in a local school district. 20 pay checks. Gone are the days of masters schedules. Teachers at the top remain there while new teachers see no hope for advancement.

Betsy said...

Speaking of the so called "tight fiscal times" take a look at:
Data for Wisconsin is revealing and disturbing. Proof its not teachers and government employees who are bankrupting this state!

Anonymous said...

Wow Betsy. Excellent article and Database. Thanks!