UTA's Compensation Policy

As one of the leading transit providers in the United States, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) believes its success is due to its most valuable asset – the more than 2,000 men and women who are employed at the agency. To help maintain its excellent, multi-modal transit service, UTA aims to offer a total compensation package that attracts and retains high-caliber employees, and one that is competitive with the labor market in which UTA competes for human capital.

UTA has adopted a well-accepted process to establish base pay for each position at the agency. Base pay is established at the average of the labor market, which is determined by considering a number of components including:

-    Market Data Analysis – Market data is gathered from multiple sources that include local, government/non-profit, transit and geographical data. The duties of each job performed by UTA personnel are matched closely to valid market comparisons.

-    Internal Equity Analysis – In the instance when a salary survey job match is not found, UTA uses an internal analysis to determine the approximate market average pay for the position. The analysis considers the position’s required knowledge and skills, decision making authority, impact on the organization and supervisory responsibilities.

-    Existing Policies and Procedures – UTA’s compensation policies are crafted to ensure consistency and are in compliance with all federal, state and local laws.

-    Annual Compensation Audit – An independent review is undertaken each year to ensure UTA’s market comparisons are fair, consistent, competitive and realistic.

-    Merit Increases – These are based on performance and awarded within UTA’s budget constraints.

-    Board-appointed Employees – The UTA Board of Trustees determines salaries of all board-appointed officers using the same procedures listed above.

UTA uses only certified compensation professionals to perform annual market data analysis and to administer UTA’s compensation policies and procedures.

UTA’s Performance Incentive Program

UTA is committed to achieving high-performance standards by rewarding and incentivizing excellent work though its performance incentive program. As with nearly 60 percent of employers throughout the United States, UTA’s performance incentive program encourages staff to meet goals, improve employee performance, increase productivity and save money through increased efficiency. For example, in 2012 the performance incentive program helped the agency achieve savings of $6.9 million, while the program only cost $1.7 million. Savings are used to improve UTA’s operations and to increase service levels.

Central to UTA’s performance compensation program is setting, achieving and reviewing goals. This process is well-defined and clearly outlines expectations at all levels within the agency to achieve superior organization, department and individual performance.  The UTA Board of Trustees and general manager set the agency’s one-year and multi-year strategic direction and board goals. In 2013, goals set by the UTA Board of Trustees included ridership, investment per rider, revenue development, completion of several rail construction projects, expansion of Transit Oriented Development, plus goals related to improving customer service and information, safety and state of good repair for the agency’s infrastructure.

From there, UTA executives and senior management set department and individual goals that support the agency’s strategic direction and board goals. Next, UTA’s middle management and front line supervisors establish their work group and individual goals, which are also designed to promote the agency’s strategic direction, board goals and department goals. This system ensures goals set throughout the organization are aligned to deliver upon the UTA Board of Trustee’s expectations and to consistently achieve high performance.

Each month, UTA’s goals are monitored by the board’s Finance and Operations committee. Department and individual goals are monitored on a quarterly basis and are formally evaluated at the end of each year. Each employee in the program receives a formal performance rating, which informs each employee’s incentive pay and merit increases. The UTA Board of Trustees evaluates the achievement of agency goals each year and ultimately determines the amount of incentive funds that will be made available to participating employees.

UTA has been offering goal-based performance compensation for the last decade or more when its board of trustees turned to private sector business management principles and practices in order to improve agency performance.  Over the years, the program has been refined and formalized to include a set amount based on payroll and has been expanded to all administrative employees. By offering the program to all of UTA’s administrative staff, agency employees are encouraged to work above and beyond their written job descriptions, which allows the agency to expand its transit services and improve service quality, all while staying under budget. 

Related Links:

UTA Executive Limitations Policy – Compensation and Benefits

UTA’s Goal Setting and Review Policy

Op-Ed – UTA