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August 11, 2022 Vice Chancellors’ Representatives’ Meeting

Attending: Linc Butler, Stephanie Forman, Adrianne Gibilisco, Lonnie Hawley, Leah Hefner, Keith Hines, Rebecca Howell, Joe Jordan, Arlene Medder, Manisha Mittal, Katie Musgrove, Joe Ormond, Laura Pratt, Charlissa Rice, Kelly Scurlock-Cross, Lori Shamblin, James Stamey, Annetta Streater, Matthew Teal, Tracy Wetherby Williams, Anna Wu

Katie Musgrove started the Vice Chancellors’ Representatives’ meeting at 10:03 a.m. She presented James Holman’s question regarding feedback related to the recent job fair to recruit vacant positions in Housekeeping. Holman thought that there were not representatives from the Office of Human Resources present to answer questions from prospective employees. Holman also thought that there were issues with many Burmese attendees having insufficient number of interpreters to assist. Many attendees were uncertain about how to use a computer to apply for a job.

Holman proposed that OHR personnel be present at future events, that more interpreters be present for Burmese and Spanish speakers, and to have perhaps a one-page information sheet translated into multiple languages for prospective applicants on how to access and apply via the online system. The information sheet could also provide information about free local internet programs.

Anna Wu corrected Holman’s statement, stating that there were two Human Resources representatives present, Don Jones and Darryl McClay, representing the Service Center of Excellence at UNC. Thirteen housekeeping staff attended, five of whom served as interpreters. Wu thought that the point about providing information regarding public library internet access was well taken.

Wu said that around 40-50 people attended the Saturday job fair, the most well-attended of the three offered. She said that another fair may occur at the end of the semester, perhaps in combination with other Facilities, Building Services and Grounds units also experiencing vacancies. It was noted that this method probably recruits operations groups better than professional staff, the latter of which are attracted to apply via different networks. Katie Musgrove pledged to present this feedback to Holman following the meeting.

Arlene Medder asked about plans in place for addressing the newest public health crisis, the monkeypox pandemic, as students return to Chapel Hill. Linc Butler was not aware of plans for the upcoming semester specific to monkeypox. He offered to take the question, find out what he could, and report back.

Anna Wu said that she had heard from Darius Dixon on this subject in response to staff questions. Dixon referred these employees to CDC guidelines. Wu thought that Cathy Brennan of Environment, Health, and Safety would be a better person to respond to these questions. She encouraged the Forum to consult with Brennan, perhaps during the September general meeting.

Adrianne Gibilisco asked a question about employees who transitioned to different positions within the university or UNC System in the past year being limited to the 20% salary cap, while also having the 2.5% statewide raise deducted from that because it fell in the same fiscal year. She asked in what way the University might remedy this situation so that these employees can recoup that loss. Linc Butler said that these employees’ department would need to initiate a salary increase request under current guidelines and rules. For example, if an employee’s salary is below market threshold, their department could potentially do a market adjustment to address this question. Butler said that departments would still need to account for internal equity questions when offering these increases to ensure that they are not creating compression or other issues. Management would need to initiate an action, as these situations are not necessarily remedied across the board from central administration.

Butler said that more flexibility currently exists than it did under the 20% rule, a bit of good news. Gibilisco asked if a person who could have gotten over 20%, even in a different salary, after the cap was removed, would not have been affected so much by the Statewide cap being removed. Butler said that this was correct, that there would potentially have been some additional flexibility for them to receive a greater increase depending on where the proposed salary fell within the salary range of their new department.

Leah Hefner followed up with a question from the Personnel Issues committee’s meeting with Butler and Becci Menghini on July 18th. She recalled that Menghini had said that the university cannot do succession planning like a private corporation, in response to concerns about staff development and career banding. Hefner asked if Butler could speak more about the rules for recruiting internal and external positions. She noted that some EHRA non-faculty have been appointed to positions without going through the interview process, and she asked the conditions for this practice.

Butler said that Menghini’s statement about succession planning related to the private sector’s practice to identify talent within the organization that is on the path to promotion or is prepared to succeed a leader in a higher-level management role. This practice is now typically done in the private sector on an automatic basis.

However, the challenge for State government in these situations is the requirement that positions be posted in searches for these roles and that State government cannot pre-select someone for these roles. Butler recalled past conversations that have indicated that some University managers are doing this pre-selection anyway, and he said that this should not occur as this practice is prohibited in the State of North Carolina.

Thus, succession planning in State agencies and within the UNC System involves doing everything possible to prepare employees to be highly competitive for a role that may become vacant that they could promote into. Butler said that there are some rare exceptions to this rule. In cases in which UNC specific knowledge, experience, and familiarity with systems or policies is of the utmost importance, these positions can generally be posted internally to the entire University, although not internally for a department or individual unit alone. The pool of applicants that have the necessary knowledge and experience of UNC-Chapel Hill specific policies, processes, and programs who might have less of a learning curve would not be large. Still, the University has relied on these pools in hiring for certain EHRA non-faculty roles. This has also been done for certain SHRA roles, but this is not a common practice, Butler said.

Departments can choose to engage in this practice and Human Resources can work with departments to initiate that process. Some EHRA non-faculty staff have received new titles or positions without going through the formal interview process when a waiver of recruitment provisions occurs. Butler said that rules for SHRA waivers are much more stringent and restrictive than those for EHRA non-faculty. Generally, the University sees these waivers only for leadership positions. On the SHRA side, positions involved typically deal with issues of safety, public health, or areas of that nature.

Butler said that during the pandemic these rules relaxed slightly, especially for positions in public health roles. However, with the public health emergency in the State of North Carolina ending, the original rules will now apply, and waiver opportunities will be more limited, but not impossible. Typically, these opportunities are used when a unit is trying to avoid a reduction in force action, when someone in a position has their budget eliminated or ending. In this case, the University can waive that person into another role somewhere in the organization or in the University. This action is allowable in order to avoid the University laying this person off.

Another way a waiver opportunity would arise would be if an employee has a disciplinary action requiring demotion, perhaps moving into a mandatory reinstatement of someone that has been terminated. Butler said that the University could waive this employee into these positions but there is a critical work stoppage provision in the policy that must be met in cooperation with the hosting department.

Butler offered to answer additional questions in this area. Leah Hefner thanked Butler for his response on UNC-specific knowledge related to the internal recruitment process.

Matthew Teal raised the next question regarding staff concerns about the Concur software program. The Personnel Issues committee has heard from staff regarding Concur, which is intended to assist employees with pre-travel approval, travel, booking, and business entertainment expense reimbursements. There are concerns that Concur is too complicated, non-intuitive, and does not work correctly, according to this feedback.

Teal noted reports that the School of Medicine has apparently stopped using Concur altogether, reverting to their prior system, Web Travel. Teal said that this issue will likely increase in scope as the statewide public health emergency is rescinded next week, leading to University employees travelling much more frequently for work. Teal asked the latest information about Concur software and what the plans are for improving Concur’s specific features and the timeline for implementation of said improvements.

Anna Wu responded that she had not obtained a briefing from Nate Knuffman on this question. She had heard of changes but could not give specifics at this point. She said that Knuffman and Steve Augustini are aware of ongoing questions, comments, and complaints about Concur. She planned to ask Knuffman to respond in writing following the meeting.

Teal then asked about findings in the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, which published initial results from their higher education employee retention survey. This survey found that 34.9 percent of surveyed employees are likely or very likely to look for other employment within the next 12 months. Including “somewhat likely” respondents, that percentage rises to 57.2%. In other words, more than half of higher education staff are currently considering leaving their current jobs.

This journal then asked employees why they were considering leaving their current positions. 75.9% of respondents sought a better salary; 42.9% of respondents sought to work remotely; 31.7% of respondents sought better flexible work situations; 29.6% sought promotions or more responsibility; 19% sought new challenges; 13.7% sought to work with different people; 11.3% needed to relocate; and 8.7% sought a better fit for their benefits. Only 42.7% said that they were considering taking another position within their current institution.

Teal recognized that UNC-Chapel Hill and OHR leadership has repeatedly and fairly said that people leave the University for many different reasons, not just pay. Teal asked if the University’s internal data is consistent with that found in the retention survey. If not, how does UNC-Chapel Hill differ from the survey?

Linc Butler said that data from exit survey results gives a bit of history when redesigning surveys. When OHR started these surveys, the participation rate was only a 6-7%. The most recent iteration has improved to a 24% response rate. Butler said that this data shows many similarities with the survey Teal cited. At UNC-Chapel Hill, employees leaving cited taking a job with better career potential most often, with growth and a better match for their skills the second-most cited factor. Skills and interests were the third most cited, with taking a higher-level job elsewhere the fourth most cited reason for leaving the University.

Butler said that these reasons feed into the current drive to create more structured career development for staff. Still, salaries will certainly always be a factor in these decisions. Butler said that OHR has the capability to cite unit-specific data, although use of this data can lead to potential identification of survey respondents.

David Bragg asked a follow-up question of Linc Butler. He asked if the exit survey relies on check boxes or open-ended questions. Butler said that both methods are used. Bragg asked if pay was one of the options listed in the UNC-Chapel Hill survey. Butler believed that was the case but said that he would confirm.

Katie Musgrove relayed a question from an anonymous employee regarding the “family glitch,” whereby employer provided insurance affects eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The employee said that this year there seems to have been changes at the federal level, possibly making some UNC employees in this category eligible to apply through the Affordable Care Act. Butler did not have any immediate feedback on this question but said that he would check with Joe Williams of OHR Benefits.

Musgrove noted that there was no further discussion, with the meeting ending 30 minutes early. She thanked all for attending. The meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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