On Dec. 10, President Decatur sent an open letter to the Kenyon community announcing that the pay for Kenyon employees holding hourly, non-union retail and clerical positions would be adjusted to a minimum wage of $15 an hour, effective Jan. 1, 2022. This was a result of a comprehensive review of the pay and classification systems for Kenyon’s hourly employees, in response to concerns that the wages were not fair. This change went into effect the same day that Ohio’s statewide minimum wage increased from $8.80 to $9.30 an hour.
The main goal in this review of the baseline hourly wages and in the decision to increase them is to help Kenyon become a more competitive employer, according to Vice President of Finance Todd Burson. The Office of Human Resources researched the local economy, specifically the businesses of Knox County, to determine the wages and benefits that employees working for other businesses were receiving, and how they compared to Kenyon employees’ compensation.
The Office of Human Resources reviewed the previous salary grades 3, 4 and 5, which categorized different positions based on skill. The Office of Human Resources determined from this review that it would be more functional to classify these positions into two new salary grades — mid- and high-level positions — and to determine new appropriate baseline wage levels considering the level of skill they required. The review then went to the senior staff for further consideration.
Recent inflation was a significant incentive for considering how other employers in the area are paying their employees, and what an appropriate hourly wage should be. “As we’ve seen, inflation the last three to four months now has been going up, so as the senior staff was reviewing this proposal, adjusting these pay ranges and going from ranges 3, 4 and 5 to just a mid and high, we also took into account the inflation that’s taking place right now,” Burson said. “We had not seen an uptick in the turnover rate, but there was always a concern.”
Mid-level positions include those such as data entry specialists, financial aid assistants and administrative assistants in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, among others. These positions will earn a new minimum baseline salary of $15 an hour, an increase from $11.94 to $13.97 an hour. High-level positions are those such as administrative assistant to the President’s Office, administrative assistant to the Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, office manager of the Offices of Human Resources & Civil Rights, and others. These positions have a new baseline minimum wage of $17.35 an hour, increasing from between $13.97 and $16.35 an hour.
Wages for Bookstore employees have also increased, although the salary grades have remained the same. Instead of Bookstore jobs being categorized as mid- or high-level positions, they are still classified as salary grades 1 (customer service and sales associates), 2 (accounting, data entry, sales shipping and receiving coordinator positions) and 3 (book associates). The minimum wages have increased from $9.45 an hour to $12.00 an hour in salary grade 1, from $11.55 an hour to $14.00 an hour in salary grade 2 and from $15.68 an hour to $17.00 an hour in salary grade 3.
The increase in wages has been warmly acknowledged by many Kenyon employees for its practicality. “It has already impacted our ability to recruit and hire great people,” Angus MacDonell, the general manager of the Kenyon Bookstore, said. “Prior to the recent rate adjustment, we received only one enquiry after posting for our open permanent part-time positions. We reposted the same positions after the new rates took effect and received 15 applications within a few days.”
Even more than increasing Kenyon’s competitiveness as an employer, the adjustments have been a source of good news in the midst of the ongoing pandemic-related uncertainty. “The recent hourly wage increase was a pleasant surprise and certainly appreciated,” Babette Cichanowicz, administrative coordinator at the Career Development Office (CDO), wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Kenyon is a wonderful place to work and the work I do in the CDO is fulfilling. It’s a win-win!”