Staff Council wants limits on retiree hiring

Career growth hindered by common practice, members say

Concerned that some retirees returning to work for the university might be in jobs that could be filled by unemployed or underemployed workers or those who might be promoted, the University of Colorado Staff Council asked administration officials to place a cap on the time a retiree can work for CU.

During their May 23 meeting at 1800 Grant St. in Denver, many council members said that while they understand the necessity to rehire retirees with specialized skills, they would like to see a more definitive limit placed on how long a retiree can work for the university. Some council members said they personally knew of retirees who continued to work for the university for as long as 10 years.

Administrative Policy Statement 5054, “Hiring Working Retirees into Staff Positions,” currently is under review and is scheduled to take effect July 31. The current policy draft states, “Retirees can be hired into staff (university staff or university classified staff) positions limited to a 12-month, a defined project period or to be reviewed at the end of each year.”

Council members also said departments should do a better job of training current employees so open positions can be filled by non-retirees.

Departments are not “giving staff an opportunity to move up in the system because they don’t have good succession planning,” said Deserae Frisk, chair of the University of Colorado Denver Staff Council. “Staff members aren’t given the skills to be competitive” in the hiring process.

“Jobs that go on for years might be getting in the way for hope for a career path, and that is a very real concern,” said E. Jill Pollock, vice president for employee and information services. “But some jobs require a high degree of specialization and will never be a full-time position. The campus consensus is that jobs that will never be full-time and are erratic” can be filled by a retiree.

Pollock said that one reason APS 5054 includes a “yearly review” is to ensure departments justify their reasons for hiring retirees. Pollock said the APS has received intense scrutiny. Originally, the policy only addressed PERA retirees, but it now includes Optional Retirement Plan (OPR) members.

To read the draft policy, visit

Pollock also gave council members updates on Be Colorado Move and compensation system planning.

Be Colorado Move offers paid incentive to participants who exercise at least 30 minutes 12 times per month. Enrollees can earn $25 per month paid quarterly. At the end of April, the first month of the program, 1,201 employees – or about 7.8 percent of those who qualified – were enrolled. Pollock said the program’s goal was to register 6 percent to 10 percent. “Of those enrolled, 40 percent met their goal, which is a nice start,” Pollock said.

A number of devices and a downloaded app can be used to track and report exercise. For more information about the program, visit

The total rewards project for officers and exempt personnel (now referred to as university staff) is a three-phase compensation structure that officials currently are preparing. Last year, Pollock said, a team was put together to examine titles and job families and to review salaries as they related to market pay in order to make the university competitive. The team found that many employees are paid under market rates.

Officials also are identifying other elements important to employees in order to keep the university competitive. Those elements are benefits, environment (the culture of the organization and physical work environment), the work/life balance, and development opportunities.

Pollock said a compensation program must be equitable and consistent, market competitive, transparent, and reward high performance. She said the university has a strong desire to pay for performance, not effort or longevity, and to significantly differentiate rewards for high-level performers.

Among current university staff, Pollock said, almost 82 percent earn “exceed expectations” or “outstanding” on performance reviews. “There’s hardly any differentiation from top to bottom until you get to “below expectations,” she said. The university is rethinking its evaluation structure so high performers are rewarded appropriately. In addition, she said, supervisors must be trained to administer reviews in a way that differentiates employees, Pollock said.

Pollock said the first phase of the program is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2015.

The council also was presented with an update on the President’s Task Force on Efficiency (PTFE) by Leonard Dinegar, senior vice president and chief of staff, and Dan Montez, director of the Office of Policy and Efficiency.

When the task force was formed in 2008, there were 210 System Administration Policy Statements; those now have been pared to 85.  In addition, the PTFE recently conducted an employee survey to assess its progress.

Montez said PTFE tried to identify a list of Top 10 issues important to employees and asked whether the issue had improved or gotten worse since 2009. Respondents said two areas had not improved: The administrative burden on campus (58.6 percent) and hiring processes, which were deemed too cumbersome (53.4). Results were nearly split on a third issue: Just over 48 percent said there is still a perception of mistrust of employees and a low tolerance for mistakes.

Respondents saw improvement in other issues, including reliance on paper and manual processes (80.2 percent), procurement and travel processes (63.9 percent), amount and delivery of training (64.7 percent), and the new financial reporting system (65.1 percent).

Montez said employees like the website and the president’s communique. He said the office will continue to improve communications efforts so that information reaches all levels of the university.