Organizational Effectiveness

Campus Address
121-50 USB
Mailing Address

121 University Services Building, Suite 50
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States

Particularly in lean financial times, evaluating workload and/or the need to fill vacant positions is vital. This includes the nature and relative importance of each duty, whether it should continue to be performed and, if so, by whom. Thinking through the following questions carefully will assist you in planning optimally and making the best decision(s), whether you are addressing concerns about an individual’s workload, or shuffling the workload of a team or unit. Use the questions as a planning tool before engaging in conversation with others, such as those who perform the work, your HR Unit Rep or Senior HR Rep, or another leader. You also may want to review these questions on an annual basis or contact Organizational Effectiveness for a brief consultation.

What work is performed by the position currently?

How critical is each duty/responsibility to the vitality of the unit?

  • In the short term?
  • In the long term? To future strategic initiatives and/or emerging trends?
  • Does any duty relate to an anticipated consolidation, downsizing, or phasing out of a program or service less critical to our mission?
  • How critical is the duty to maintaining the overall quality of our core functions?

If the duty must continue to be performed...

  • Does it make sense that the duty remains within the current position or should it be reassigned to someone else? Is there someone else in the unit who also performs this duty? Or who is cross-trained to perform it? What skills are needed? Who has the ability to learn and assume the duty?

If yes, can the duty be performed by another position in the unit?

  • What knowledge transfer methods will you use to capture and share critical information? Review the Senior HR Leadership Guide for Knowledge Management at the University of Iowa. For tools, contact
  • What is the process and time schedule for the transfer of each duty? Who will inform the person assuming the duty? How? Who will train the person assuming the duty? How?
  • Who will follow up with that person to evaluate the success of the transition and the effect on the person’s workload? When?
  • Who needs to be informed about the shift of duty(ies)? When, how, and by whom?
  • Would the workload for a position assuming the duty (or additional volume of the duty) need to be altered in some other way to allow for the additional work? How?
  • Would it constitute a change in duties, responsibility and authority such that eventual reclassification of that position may be indicated if the duty is successfully performed over time?
  • If the shift in the duties is such that a reclassification is not indicated, might a salary adjustment be indicated to compensate for the additional workload? (This is not possible for those positions covered by a collective bargaining agreement.)
  • Do funding sources for the position assuming a duty need to be altered?
  • Would assistance with work redesign and/or strategic staffing be helpful? Could a technological solution apply?
  • Do tasks performed by a support person need to be altered or reassigned? What effect will that have on the support person's workload? (Think through same processes as above.)

If the duty could not be assumed by another position in the unit and the current position is vacant...

  • Does it mean that the position being vacated would have to be filled?
    • At the same level or a different level (dependent upon the combination of duties that will remain with the position)?
    • Full-time or part-time?
    • At what cost?
    • How easy will it be to recruit someone with the needed knowledge, skills, abilities, qualifications?
  • Is it a duty that could be outsourced with a financially beneficial result?

If the duty does not need to continue to be performed, whether or not the position is vacant...

  • What is the strategy for phasing out the duty?
    • Does it need to be integrated with something else, does something else need to take its place, or does it mean that a related duty performed elsewhere also needs to be eliminated?
  • What needs to be done with existing related computer or hard copy files?
  • Who needs to be informed about the elimination of the duty? When, how, and by whom?