Pay Fairly – professional staff at the University of Auckland

“Pay people well. Pay people fairly. Then do everything possible to take money off people’s minds”  – Alfie Kohn

The current pay system isn’t fair



Auckland is the only university in New Zealand with a purely performance pay system for professional staff. At other universities professional staff have models that incorporate annual increments and recognition of experience, loyalty and knowledge.

Staff shouldn’t have to compete with each other to get the pay rises we deserve.

The university has a performance and development system called Evolve. Evolve is supposed to be about professional development and the setting of performance goals. However, due to the link to pay members feel that the only part that really counts now is the rating and Evolve has turned into a crude way of grading staff.

It is the grade that determines whether a staff member gets a pay rise.

We believe that Evolve needs to be separated from pay, that we need to get rid of the rating, that there needs to be fewer competencies and that equal emphasis needs to be placed on staff development, and an environment of collegiality and teamwork is fostered.

This year we are continuing with our campaign for a new transparent, objective and fair pay model for professional staff. We also want to see Evolve reformed. We need your help.

Performance Pay doesn’t work

Performance pay expert Alfie Kohn

“…My formula for how to pay people distils the best theory, research, and practice with which I am familiar into three short sentences: Pay people well. Pay people fairly. Then do everything possible to take money off people’s minds. Notice that incentives, bonuses, pay-for-performance plans, and other reward systems violate the last principle by their very nature…

Daniel Pink on motivation Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t.

Barry Schwartz: The way we think about work is broken

Going to work just for a paycheck is an outdated concept that needs to change according to psychologist Barry Schwartz who says everyone, from hospital janitors to factory workers, can and should, get more out of work than money.

“People want more than a paycheck from their work. The structure of work has largely made it impossible to get anything but a paycheck” Schawrtz tells Jesse Mulligan at RNZ:

How motivation is driven by purpose - not monetary incentives



Background and resources

A fairer pay system. Here’s our plan:

Incremental progression  – to value experience

In our new system, agreed salary levels would be subdivided into a number of  steps. Professional staff who perform ‘satisfactorily’ will progress through the steps each year similar to our academic colleagues.

Progress through professional development

In addition to the progression available through annual increments, staff can progress through the acquisition of skills, knowledge and expertise. If a professional staff member is recognised as being ‘Proficient’ or ‘Expert’, they will qualify for pay increases.

Applications for proficient and expert levels are considered on criteria set by staff and managers, and assessed by an independent panel.

Benefits for the employer

The employer will benefit from the new model in several ways. It will be easier to plan budgets with the new system because salary costs will be more predictable. Managers will find it easier to retain staff, and they will notice an increase in productivity and cohesion amongst staff as the frustrations and divisions of the old system are left behind.

Professional development can focus on acquiring relevant skills or expertise if a staff member decides to work towards Proficient or Expert levels.

Bonus payments

A request for a lump sum payment for the completion of special projects over and above normal duties can be made by an employee’s manager or by an employee through their manager.


TEU news on the Pay Fairly campaign