Delta Unveils Slot Management Strategy

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College has implemented a new strategy for managing workforce attrition which emphasizes internal transfers and promotions, early retirements and temporary hires.

This strategy, known as slot management, was developed through Project Delta. Administrators said slot management reflects the Project Delta goal of using innovative methods to create a smaller, more efficient workforce without having to resort to layoffs.

Under the slot management plan, any open University-funded staff or administrative position will be reviewed by the Human Resources vice president or the director of employment in consultation with the appropriate vice president, dean or administrator. The open slot will be analyzed in relation to Delta objectives, and the University will consider a range of options as to how, or whether the position should be filled.

These options might include - but not necessarily be limited to - eliminating or retaining the position, transferring it to another organizational unit, or reducing the hours, weeks or months of employment associated with the position. If mutually advantageous to the individual employee and to Delta goals, the University may negotiate an early retirement or severance arrangement.

The strategy enables Boston College to incorporate the best aspects of its culture and its workforce, said Vice President for Human Resources Leo Sullivan, and ultimately "will enhance the work-life of people here." He urged the University community to develop an understanding of slot management and its purpose.

"We are going to do our best to avoid the layoffs occurring in other academic and business institutions that have undergone re-engineering," said Sullivan, a member of the Delta Executive Team. "However, we need a university-wide commitment for this strategy to succeed. People should be thinking about how departments function in the context of the larger organization and should be open to the different models Delta will be offering."

The new policy provides that many administrative and staff searches will initially focus on internal applicants. Accordingly, administrators said, the University plans to offer ongoing training initiatives - especially in the area of technology - to help employees obtain the qualifications necessary for them to be considered for internal transfers or promotions. To provide greater flexibility in planning elimination or reallocation of permanent slots, Sullivan said, offices and departments also will be encouraged to hire temporary employees on an interim basis.

"When a slot becomes open, you don't automatically face an 'either-or' proposition - retain the position or eliminate it," Sullivan said. "You can ask, 'Do we need this position filled right away? Do we need this position filled for 35 hours a week? Do we need it filled all year round?' In fact, you can even ask whether this position could offer more productivity and flexibility in another office or department."

The strategy also calls for the Human Resources Department to hold formal exit interviews with employees leaving the University, as a way of cultivating potential new ideas for Delta-related initiatives.

Sullivan reiterated that the University is committed to finding creative solutions like slot management to foster greater efficiency and productivity.

"People have to be open to change, to be flexible in the face of these new possibilities," he said. "Hiring managers in the organizational units in particular have to understand that slot management is an institutional priority. But it is incumbent upon all of us to realize that this concept has to work if we're going to be successful in preparing Boston College for the future."

A complete text of the slot management strategy is available through the Project Delta World Wide Web site, /delta.

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