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UofSC implements new compensation structure to improve employee recruitment, retention

All University of South Carolina staff members will receive new job titles and about 650 will receive pay increases as part of an initiative to attract and retain employees.

The Division of Human Resources recently completed a classification and compensation study to better align the university’s pay structure with salaries in the market and create a comprehensive strategy.

“We’ve never had market-based pay at the university, and it was well overdue because we knew our salaries were behind the market,” says Caroline Agardy, Vice President for Human Resources. “The only way you can assemble and retain a diverse and highly qualified workforce is to compensate them competitively.”

In addition, the university will raise the minimum hourly rate for approximately 600 of full-time staff systemwide earning less than $14 per hour.  The new institutional minimum rate for staff will be $14 per hour effective January 2023.

The cost of the study implementation will be about $4.3 million. Approximately $2.3 million will come from funds allocated for university strategic priorities. The balance will be funded by auxiliary and academic units.

Implementation begins in October when staff across the university system will transition to their new titles. Human Resources will update its webpage and payroll software to reflect the new structure. In January, about 650 staff employees (of 4,302 systemwide) will receive a pay increase to the minimum salary of their new pay range. The adjustments will not affect faculty positions.

“The only way you can assemble and retain a diverse and highly qualified workforce is to compensate them competitively.”

Caroline Agardy, Vice President for Human Resources

“Because some current employees may be already at that minimum range, there will an opportunity later in the process for units to move their employees toward the new midpoint or the new market value based on factors such as performance, years of related experience and education,” Agardy says.

The Division of Human Resources partnered with Payfactors, a cloud-based compensation data management software, for benchmarking and market pricing with comparable higher education institutions and other organizations both in state and nationally. As a result of the study, Human Resources redesigned the structure within the state’s broad 10-band classification and compensation system, which didn’t integrate well with the university’s staff structure.

Human Resources has narrowed the state’s pay bands into 20 new pay ranges for classified staff at the university to implement specific job titles and better reflect job roles and duties. The changes will allow more accurate market comparisons. Although similar studies have been completed with individual departments, this is the first comprehensive compensation survey and restructuring for the entire university system.

Among the occupational areas that were most behind market compensation and will be most affected by the new structure are custodial services, facilities, maintenance, groundskeeping, student services, audiovisual services, IT product support and library services.

“With the market data and benchmarks, we saw that we are behind the external market, and that was a primary reason to take action,” Agardy says.