Layoff Decision and Planning

When it has been determined that layoffs cannot be avoided:

Step 1. Engage stakeholders

If you are not already working with your Vice Chancellor or Dean, advise him or her that you are beginning planning for operational changes, including layoff planning.

Plan how to communicate to your manager, internal constituents, related departments, and others about the improvement effort at its initiation and throughout each step.

Put an analysis and planning team together that, ideally, includes:

  • Key department managers.
  • Representatives from other departments who are involved in your business processes, especially if they cross organizational lines.
  • An IT support person (if your analysis involves possible systems solutions).
  • Your Employee Relations Analyst.
  • A maverick who thinks out of the box.
Meet with key stakeholders of your unit to determine their expectations for the services and programs you provide.

Step 2. Review Your Vision and Mission (what you do, for whom, how)

Review your key constituents and stakeholders and their needs. Identify possible partners. Conduct a quick external scan (what challenges and opportunities are emerging?) and internal scan (what are your group’s current strengths and weaknesses?).

Describe your desired future or vision. Identify goals or outcomes you need to accomplish to move toward this vision.

Update your mission to reflect what you have learned.

Identify service levels, if appropriate, and how those align with the University’s core mission and how those service levels may be affected.

Step 3. Analyze current processes and identify current core functions (e.g., human resources, finance, IT, student advising)

List and briefly describe key business processes for each function (e.g., recruiting, travel processing, desktop support, advising on graduation requirements, etc.).

Identify reasons for the change and how it will support and add value to the department, control unit, and/or campus.

Following are some steps to consider:

  • Define the objective: determine levels of stakeholder satisfaction, establish service levels including quality, speed, responsiveness, and areas affected by reduced workforce.
  • Measure the current process by collecting relevant data. This may include: Review unit policies to identify areas for services and/or efficiency, e.g., eliminating redundant processes or consolidation of essential services; Review how the existing structures are enabling or hindering successful business processes; Identify relationships between department business processes and those in other units, including vertical and horizontal relationships.
  • Compare your data to known benchmarks and identify performance gaps, i.e. gaps between actual vs. desired performance.
  • Identify your opportunities for cost reduction, improved efficiency, and/or increased effectiveness and set improvement targets which may include: Elimination of non-value-added processes that do not further your unit’s vision and mission; Standardization, simplification, and enhanced use of technology; Clustering services where processes cross organizational boundaries (Include leaders and members of involved departments in considering opportunities to cluster services).
  • Prioritize the change work that lies ahead; develop a reasonable timeframe considering impact on services and end users.
  • Articulate the reasons for change, quantitatively and qualitatively, to the stakeholders.

Step 4. Redesign Processes

Restructuring is often the result of redesigning our business processes or need to meet budget limitations. The goals are to: meet essential customer and stakeholder satisfaction; improve efficiency and eliminate redundant processes; reduce cost and risk to the University; and meet budgetary obligations.

Determine if a different organizational structure is needed to support the improved business processes, to support customer needs, to meet department and university goals, and to achieve desired outcomes.

Do reporting lines need to change? – Define new reporting lines with attention to:

  • Clarifying roles of existing positions.
  • What functions, if any, can be consolidated to achieve maximum efficiencies.
  • Identify essential services.
  • Assess the skills, knowledge, and experience of department employees including potential and readiness for new assignments.
  • Consider how the changes will affect employees, and plan for transitions. Identify: new performance requirements, goals, and training for existing staff; Job requirements, goals and training for new positions; outplacement and layoff strategies and coaching for managers.

This is also an opportunity to ensure supervisors are managing adequate numbers of employees to fully utilize their supervisory skills.

The key is to determine whether the proposed new structure is in alignment with the University’s core mission and meets budgetary obligations, as appropriate.

Step 5. Develop an implementation plan

A successful implementation relies on clear governance of the change process. Your plan might include: clarifying who has the decision-making authority; an updated description of the mission, vision, and goals of the unit; and ensure that these are in alignment with those of campus’s University core mission.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • A timeframe and implementation plan for changing business processes, organizational roles, and the organization structure, if needed.
  • Before and after flow charts to help clarify the transition of business processes.
  • New organization charts; including updated job descriptions; options for lateral reassignments as well as elimination of certain positions and/or functions, if appropriate.

Step 6. Create a Written Layoff/Reorganization Proposal

  1. Explain the rationale for the layoff/reorganization, including support documents of financial performance if financial necessity is cited (why the reorganization/layoff is being proposed) along with the signature of the appropriate Dean or Principal Officer supporting the proposal
  2. List the positions to be eliminated or transferred in the department including:
    • employee’s name currently in the position or if the position is vacant
    • job code and business title
    • how and why that specific position was identified for eliminating or transfer rather than other positions in the department
    • explanation of how existing duties and responsibilities for that position will be transferred or eliminated
  3. Provide a demographic report listing all staff employees in the affected unit/department, highlighting the affected employees:
    • length of service in position
    • length of service with university
    • race/ethnicity
    • gender
    • age
    • reported disability, if applicable
    • salary rate
    • job code title
    • business title
    • representation
  4. List all staff employees in the affected unit/department, highlighting the affected employees, and reflecting protected leaves taken in the 12 months preceding the termination date.
  5. Provide current job description of the positions being eliminated.
  6. Provide a job description for each position which is being revised in the proposed layoffs and/or reorganization.
  7. Provide current and proposed (new) organizational charts including:
    • job code and business title
    • employee’s name currently holding position or indication of a vacant position
  8. List all current vacant positions (posted or not) and list other new positions within the division which may be created in the 12-month period following the layoff/reorganization which are not directly related to the proposal.