Employee Proficiency Assessment – Update

TSEA January 29, 2024 Comments Off on Employee Proficiency Assessment – Update
Employee Proficiency Assessment – Update

This week (Jan. 29, 2024), DOHR provided an update on the progress of the Employee Proficiency Assessment program (EPA), including updates on employee’s salary status under the new Employee Proficiency Assessment (EPA) program.

Here is the text from the email to all executive branch employees:

Dear Executive Branch State Employee,

You have received several emails about the Employee Proficiency Assessment (EPA) program. Here is a quick update on progress.

The bottom line:

We continue to offer competitive compensation, through a pay-for-performance philosophy, to attract and retain top talent. In 2023, we modernized our salary structure, resulting in market-competitive pay or above for most employees. The EPA program is the next step in the process of making state salaries competitive with the market.

What’s next?

EPA assessments are now complete, and all agencies used the same approach. Factors considered were employees’ current placement within the salary range, their proficiency level, and their historical performance rating. Because those factors vary among individual employees, any adjustments will also be unique to the individual employee. You will receive an additional email by January 30 with your salary status.

You can find more information at tn.gov/content/dam/tn/hr/documents/EPA_FAQs.pdf. If you have questions about the Employee Proficiency Assessment program, please contact your agency’s HR team.

We greatly appreciate the quality of service you bring every day to Tennessee State Government. Thank you for your commitment to making Tennessee a great place to live and work.

TSEA has heard from several members who were informed by DOHR that they are currently earning at or above the market-competitive rate for their position, and, therefore, are not eligible for the current EPA adjustment. This aligns with our expectations and understanding of DOHR’s approach since December 2022. It’s important to note that market adjustments have consistently been targeted toward positions not currently receiving market-competitive pay.

The current adjustments under the EPA program are focused on employees being paid below the targeted salary ranges for their position.

DOHR outlined this in their FAQ titled: What was the goal for this salary adjustment as a part of the EPA initiative?

The goal was to move employees toward market-competitive pay considering their proficiency and other factors (see the FAQ titled How were proficiency-based salary adjustments determined?).

For example, if an employee is at or above “fully proficient,” the competitive pay generally begins around 85% of the job’s salary range midpoint. This is called a target pay threshold. Employees paid below the targeted pay thresholds, based on their proficiency and other factors, may receive a salary adjustment. Employees who have already reached target pay thresholds may not receive further adjustment.

We understand that the announcement and implementation of salary adjustments by DOHR often lead to a mix of reactions among our members. While some of you might welcome these changes, others may feel frustrated or overlooked, particularly those not eligible for the adjustments, and concerns about fairness and salary compression often arise.

It’s important to understand that DOHR’s stated objective in implementing the EPA adjustments is to align employee pay with market competitiveness, as determined by their independent market study. This approach typically means that employees already earning a market-competitive salary won’t see pay increases during these market adjustments.

However, for those already earning a market-competitive salary, the Dec. 2022 salary range adjustments expanded the potential for upward movement in salaries, offering some relief to the issue of salary compression. Employees at the top of their salary range before December 2022 can now earn performance-based increases to their base salary rather than remaining at the top of their range and forced to receive raises as a one-time bonus. This change allows more employees to increase their current salary while improving the future value of their retirement benefits under the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS).

Here is information on recent employee salary adjustments:

July 2022 P4P Raises
4.5% to 6% for Meets Expectation to Exceptional ratings,

Dec. 2022 – DOHR new compensation plan, including salary range adjustments
73% of Tennessee state employees received salary increases as a part of DOHR’s new compensation plan.

January 2023 P4P (2021-2022)
Bonuses based on ratings 1.5% to 3.75 for Meets Expectations to Exceptional ratings,

September 2023 P4P Raises
6% for Meets Expectations; 8% raise and 3.5% bonus for Exceeds Expectations; 9.25% raise and 7% bonus for Exceptional.

TSEA remains committed to advocating for our members and regularly communicates with DOHR about your concerns, issues, and experiences. We will continue to keep you informed with the latest updates and information as they become available.

Thank you for being a member of TSEA.