Soaring financial markets and steady job growth have fueled the U.S. economic expansion over the past decade. However, today, with the Coronavirus Pandemic, the rapid market decline is heightening fears that the longest sustained economic expansion in U.S. history may come to an abrupt halt, just a few weeks after unemployment stood at a half-century low.

One of the biggest questions companies face as they grapple with a constantly shifting economic landscape is how to prepare for what is likely going to be a very trying time for all involved—a reduction in force.

Most executives who conduct layoffs realize they are cutting into their organization’s most valuable asset: their employees. A reduction in workforce is a significant blow to the morale of a company, but it may be necessary to keep an organization afloat. Executing a thoughtful, strategic downsizing with compassion and in compliance with all relevant laws reduces the risk of impaired morale.

So, how should human resources (HR) handle downsizing while making the process as stress-free as possible for displaced employees and maintaining a strong corporate image?

Developing objective skills tests enables companies to conduct successful workforce reductions.

Know What is Necessary to Keep the Lights On

When creating a fair and objective process for downsizing that is in an organization’s best interest, selection criteria must carefully be considered. Before selection criteria is determined, decision-makers must take steps to ascertain the roles, tasks, and skill sets necessary to achieve current and future organizational objectives. They must:

  1. Identify Key Business Functions. The first step is to analyze critical internal functions. Cross-departmental communication is central to determining key business functions. What are the company’s objectives? What functions are needed to satisfy business objectives?
  2. Forecast Future Needs. The future direction of an organization also needs consideration. Is the company expanding in some areas? Shrinking in others?
  3. Outline Key Roles. At this point, focus on the key positions needed to meet current and future business objectives. What roles will build operational resilience? What roles are essential to long-term success?

Company stakeholders should use this information to determine the departments that will face cuts and the number of workers that will be laid off.

Develop an Objective, Unbiased Skills-Based Assessment

Once the key positions a company will need going forward are established, Human Resources must then conduct an objective analysis of each position to determine the necessary skills and intellectual capital. The selection criteria should reflect factors that will be most important to the ongoing business after the implementation of the reduction in force. These factors will include a mix of skill sets and job-specific knowledge, such as proficiency in a range of software applications. Performing a thorough job analysis for each position is the safest course, legally, to identify objective selection criteria.

“Using an assessment that you’ve demonstrably tailored to fit a job’s requirements, per a job analysis, is more compliant than using an off-the-shelf test or no test at all.”

– Eric Dreiband, former Chief Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Job analysis techniques include:

  • Observing and documenting the work staff does
  • Reviewing employee logs
  • Using questionnaires and in-person interviews to ask employees and their superiors about the knowledge and skills required of a position
  • Reviewing job description

Armed with reliable selection criteria companies are able to develop skills tests that will identify employees with the skills and knowledge pivotal to sustained success. By doing so, organizations retain top talent without sacrificing on quality.

eSkill’s user-friendly software and dedicated U.S.-based Customer Success Managers enable employers to seamlessly develop customized skills tests for any position. Since every job is unique, eSkill’s interface makes it easy to combine skills tests, edit questions, or add additional questions, either from eSkill’s library or from your company’s proprietary information. eSkill has hundreds of editable off-the-shelf job-specific and skill-specific skills tests from accounting to web development, sales, and more, and over 5,000 sub-topics from a vast library of individual questions to easily meet your needs. 

Make no mistake: downsizing is extremely difficult. Using skills tests tailored to individual positions to implement an objective process for reducing the workforce ensures employees feel the process is as equitable as possible, and those who are laid off have a soft landing. Otherwise, organizations might face problems recruiting new talent, retaining skilled employees, and reaching out to investors and consumers.

In addition to providing skills testing software, eSkill also provides clients with a dedicated U.S.-based assessment expert to assist with:

  • Creating the skills tests required.
  • Developing customized tests.
  • Advising on the testing process.
  • Independent test monitoring.
  • Result analysis.

It is vital that your organization is prepared to properly plan, manage, and execute workforce reductions when the time comes. With eSkill’s customizable skills tests, implementing an objective and legally compliant process for downsizing is streamlined and efficient.

Interested in Using Skills Tests to Execute a Compassionate Downsizing?

Learn more about the benefits of using eSkill’s customizable skills tests to create an objective and legally compliant reduction in workforce programs.

Request a demo today.

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