HRS launches pilot programs to address staff shortages

Person in front of a laptop looking over a candidate's CV during an online interview.

Two new pilot programs aimed at helping ease critical staff shortages across the Washington State University system by providing financial incentives to applicants as well as current employees are now available.

The initiatives launched Monday by Human Resource Services include the Hiring Incentive Payment Program and the Employee Referral Incentive Program. The former allows departments looking to fill a difficult vacancy to offer a one-time lump sum to the person that applies and is eventually hired by the university. The Employee Referral Incentive Program encourages current WSU employees to recommend prospective candidates for hard-to-fill positions with up to $1,000 in bonus payments.

“This is our way of trying some new things to help with hiring issues that are common across the university system,” said Tony Howard, senior associate vice president for Human Resource Services. “We also recognize that employees in understaffed departments often have to pick up additional responsibilities while searches are underway, so we wanted to provide a new avenue to address those staffing issues.”

Units and departments are eligible to request these incentives for jobs that have been persistently difficult to fill. Request forms for both pilot programs are available on HRS’ website.

Both pilot programs are planned through June 2023. Because HRS is approving requests for both programs, administrators will be able to track data on which departments use them the most and for what positions, and be able to look at ways to address the university’s hiring needs for the future, Howard said.

Incentives paid out as part of the pilot programs are funded by the requesting units and departments. Job postings on WSU’s website will indicate which open positions are eligible for either pilot program.

Current WSU employees who refer someone to a job eligible for the referral incentive program will receive $500 after the new employee completes orientation and another $500 after their referral successfully completes six months of active employment.

“Our employees are an invaluable resource, and we believe they are the best ambassadors we have, so it only makes sense to offer them an incentive to bring new talent to WSU,” Howard said.

Some WSU employees are not eligible to receive payment under the referral program:

  • The hiring manager and any individuals involved in the selection process for a specific position
  • Current WSU Employees applying for a different position within WSU
  • Staff who are in the final counseling or dismissal steps of the corrective action process
  • Employees who are on unpaid leave
  • Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement unless modified by their applicable CBA

Only civil service and administrative professional job postings are eligible for the Hiring Incentive Payment Program pilot and requests must be submitted to HRS prior to an open position being posted. HRS has identified potential job applicants who are not eligible to receive the incentive payment:

  • Current WSU employees
  • Previous WSU employees who return to the same job profile within one year of separation
  • Employees in non-student, nonpermanent or student temporary hourly positions
  • New hires receiving an employee relocation compensation (BPPM 55.62)
  • Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement unless modified by their applicable CBA

Those applying for an incentive-eligible position at WSU can receive up to a state mandated maximum of 15% of the base salary or $10,000, whichever is lower, as determined by the department offering the incentive.  The payment is made once the new hire has worked at WSU for six months.

For more information on the pilot programs, visit HRS’ website.

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