Magazine article Workforce Management

Software to Smooth Your Restructuring

Magazine article Workforce Management

Software to Smooth Your Restructuring

Article excerpt

IF THE ECONOMY slides into recession and companies cut jobs in response, a slew of relatively new HR software products promise to help.

The applications include employee performance management and succession planning tools as well as a product from Vurv Technology specifically designed to aid with downsizings and other restructurings.

Large firms have been investing in these applications in recent years partly to identify and groom key employees in case of talent shortages. The same software tools should be able to help firms pick out the people to preserve amid any job cuts. For example, the products make it easy to compare employee performance and potential ratings. Decades ago, with annual reviews stored in file cabinets, such talent analysis was harder to do.

"Corporate America should have a lot more data than they had last time they did layoffs," says Rick Fletcher, president of technology consulting firm HRchitect.

Vurv's Optimize application may be the most explicit on the market about assisting companies with layoffs. The product is designed to help organizations assess employees according to factors such as skills and performance level, calculate costs associated with job cuts and communicate with affected workers. It facilitates involuntary job cuts as well as voluntary separations, such as early retirement. And, Vurv says, it allows firms to do "What if?" scenarios, showing how different hypothetical decisions would affect such things as costs and the diversity makeup of the workforce.

Optimize even helps with nitty-gritty tasks such as making sure company computers get returned.

Kevin Marasco, Vurv's senior vice president of marketing, says the application is useful not only in a crisis, but also as an aid to ongoing workforce pruning that may stave off the need for layoffs. If a company needs to curb costs, he says, it can issue a voluntary retirement incentive program for a class of employees, where the number of people or total salary amount is capped at a certain level. "By continuously 'rightsizing' the organization, companies can reduce their exposure [to] getting too fat or redundant where they shouldn't," Marasco said in an e-mail.

About 20 customers have signed up for Optimize, which Vurv obtained in an acquisition announced last year. …

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