Karen Hudson

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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New director of compensation ready to lead major compensation plans project

Karen Hudson returns to University after 10-year hiatus

After more than 10 years away, new Director of Compensation Karen Hudson has returned to Ohio University ready to lead a major University Human Resources (UHR) project.

Since returning to the University in early November, Hudson's first major order of business will be to collaborate with a soon-to-be named outside vendor to develop new compensation plans for administrative and non-bargaining unit classified employees.

After the plans are completed, the vendor will then help the University develop a new performance management plan that rewards exceptional employees. The vendor also will help develop a communication plan for the project to keep the University community informed.

Hudson said the current administrative compensation plan is about 40 years old and the current non-bargaining classified employee compensation plan is approximately 10 years old.

The Granville, Ohio, native had previously worked in UHR at the University from 1990 to 2001 in various roles, including assistant director and director of compensation. During her first time in UHR, Hudson served as the department's budget manager for seven years and was instrumental in the development of the Ohio University At Work project, which created a new compensation and performance management plan for classified and IT staff that is still being used today.

Hudson left the University in 2001 to become the first compensation manager for the City of Columbus, which has more than 8,000 employees and 10 compensation plans.

A certified compensation professional, Hudson earned her master's degree in organizational communication from Ohio University in 1993. She begins her second tour at the University with more than 20 years of compensation experience.

Now with three months on the job under her belt, Hudson sat down with Compass to discuss her background and the status of the compensation plan project:

What are your job responsibilities?

I'm responsible for directing the compensation function for all non-faculty employees. My area primarily manages job classifications, compensation plans, performance management plans and employee recognitions.

What aspects of your job most excite you?

I'm the kind of person who likes to lead projects and make changes rather than leaving things as they are, so I'm looking forward to the challenge of implementing these new compensation programs and helping this university be successful during a period of change.

What have you been doing the first few months on the job?

I have been visiting various departments and groups on campus to introduce myself and discuss this project. I have also been working with my staff to prepare for the launch. We are gathering information about the current state of compensation at the University.

Who are your staff members in the compensation area of UHR?

Heather Humphreys, the senior compensation analyst, started in UHR in May and worked alone much of the time until I was hired. She had previously worked in the Office of Information Technology on campus. We hired Jan Berry about a month ago to be the compensation specialist. She came from Thermo Fisher Scientific in Marietta, Ohio, and earned her bachelor's and MBA degrees from Ohio University. We are excited to be fully staffed just in time to launch this major project. I'm sure all three of us will learn a lot through this entire process.

What are the details of the new compensation plans project?

We are in the process of finalizing a contract with a vendor that will help us facilitate the project. The first things we'll do are draft a working plan complete with timelines on paper. Then we'll have to gather job information from the employees. I don't know which compensation plan we will develop first, but I have been told that no pay cuts will be implemented.

I'm also not sure how much money there will be to reward employees who are identified as underpaid. Our goal is to launch the project in the next few weeks, while also being sensitive to the fact that the University is also transitioning to semesters this year. Our goal is to have the compensation plans completed by December 2014.

What are the desired outcomes of the new compensation plans?

Our ultimate goal with these compensation plans is to make sure they allow departments to pay all employees fairly and equitably according to the labor market. The core of any compensation plan is to attract the best new employees to the organization and motivate and retain the current employees by paying them a competitive wage.

The plans need to have a solid, consistent framework that departments can trust when they deal with their employees. They should also set policies and guidelines as to how we hire and promote people and provide the tools to effectively move people through the compensation system.

What can you say about the performance management piece of the project?

After the two compensation plans are completed, the new performance management plan will be the final piece of the project. It will set up a framework that allows the University to consistently reward exceptional employees, while also providing the necessary training and support for employees and their supervisors.

What role will employee evaluations play in the performance management plans?

Employee evaluations are most important because they tie individuals to the department and University's goals. The lack of proper and timely performance evaluations is a common complaint by employees. That is the reason the training component of the new plans will be key.

Continue to read Compass for more information about the launch and progress of Ohio University's new compensation plans project.