RSS Feed Print
Laboratory Performance Management and Compensation
Jason Graham
Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:57 PM
Joined: 2/17/2011
Posts: 7

What criteria do other entities use to measure and compensate water and wastewater laboratory personnel?  Is compensation based on a defined skill based criteria, merit system, certifications acquired, annual perfomance bonuses, or?  Are there productivty benchmark criteria that have proven effective over time? 


Thank You!


Charles Lytle
Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 7:48 AM
Joined: 10/5/2009
Posts: 49



For our laboratory, all of your areas of interest fall under Civil Service and a collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union that represents the laboratory workers.


We just finished a comprehensive classification/compensation review and update.  For salaries, we used comparable sized, West Coast municipal labs offering similar analytical capabilities, adjusted for cost of living differences.  The COL data came from federal sites on the internet.  We also compared salaries to other position series within the city that had comparable responsibilities.  (The specific skill sets were different because these internal comparisons were between lab and non-lab positions.)  So, our compensation decisions were, in your words, "...defined skill based..."  Because we're a public utility with represented lab staff, performance bonuses, etc. are not allowed.


Productivity benchmarks are pretty much useless because we're not a production lab.  However, we do use performance metrics that are updated and reported to upper management monthly:  gross revenue per FTE (we have an internal charge-back mechanism and also do work for outside agencies via IGAs); supplies as percent of gross revenue (done on a section basis...organics, metals, etc.); percent on-time analyses per section; production overtime (we don't count overtime used to cover holidays and vacations...we're a seven-days-a-week operation); percent gross revenue sent to outside contract laboratories.  Note that these are "business" oriented.


The issue of certifications will take care of itself when we finally apply for NELAC accreditation.  Well, not quite the certification of individuals but at least a demonstration of competency.  When this happens, it will not affect compensation.


Have these been "proven effective over time??"  More or less.  We've used them all to change practices and have been fairly successful in lowering overtime, pulling back in-house a lot of work we used to send out to the contract lab (we do a simple return on investment study if this involves buying a new instrument), and keeping our supplies budget manageable.


Chuck Lytle,

City of Portland, OR