Workforce planning: Building a sustainable workforce

We know we will have to reduce our workforce and improve our organizational structures to help address a projected $44.5 million deficit by 2016. With salaries and benefits being one of our largest expenses at 75 per cent of our operating budget, we know jobs will be lost as a part of operating budget adjustments.  

Strategic decisions regarding our workforce will better position the university to reach our vision to become one of the most distinguished universities in Canada and the world.

For the latest update on workforce planning, please read the August 6, 2013 memo from Associate Vice-President, Human Resources Barb Daigle.

What is workforce planning?

Workforce planning is a strategic, systematic approach to ensuring a sustainable workforce that has the right people with the right knowledge, skills and experience in the right positions and aligned with the university’s priorities.

Will jobs be lost?

Jobs will be lost this year and changes will continue throughout the next three years and beyond. Reductions are not based on any specific number of positions, nor are they based on bargaining unit or seniority. Decisions have been and will continue to be made to ensure a workforce that can deliver on the university’s strategic priorities.

Job loss occurs as a normal part of the university's business, what is unusual now is that our goals and our current financial situation require a new strategic long-term approach to our overall work force complement.

What happens when a position is eliminated?

The university is committed to providing support and to holding confidential the specifics of individual situations.

When job loss occurs, the university complies with employment legislation and with the appropriate collective agreement.

When an employee is laid off or terminated through workforce planning, the university has arranged for additional support to help individuals in the transition. These services include career counseling, transition management, job search techniques, financial and tax planning advice, resume and cover letter preparation, etc.

What can be expected by those who stay?

For those who remain in the workforce, you are encouraged to have open communication with your manager to address your questions and concerns.

The university’s Employee Assistance Program provides information and support through PAWS, at or call Family Service Saskatoon at (306) 653-3327.

Frequently asked questions

Why are we not doing across-the-board cuts?

The university is not considering “across-the-board” cuts as they do not result in a workforce that is focused in the right areas. Workforce planning is helping colleges and units evaluate their staffing in a strategic way—ensuring our workforce is aligned to deliver on the university’s priorities.

What is the difference between a layoff and a termination?

Termination refers to the act of ending the employment of an employee who is exempt of a bargaining unit. The process and provisions are based on common law and the exempt staff handbook.

Layoff refers to the act of ending the employment of an employee who is a member of a bargaining unit. The process and provisions are guided by the relevant collective agreement.

Will employees receive severance or notice?

All laws, collective agreements and University of Saskatchewan policies will be adhered to in this process. For more information, please review the appropriate employment agreement.

Will employees who lose their jobs be escorted off campus?

Employees who are given notice have a career transition consultant available to them immediately to support them in privately and safely working through the emotion of the news. This may include walking with the employee off campus if this is requested. Following that, the career transition consultant is available to provide support and career counseling during the employee’s transition from the workplace including transition management, job search techniques, financial and tax planning advice, resume and cover letter preparation, etc.

I am struggling with my co-workers losing their jobs. How can I get support?

EAP provides access to confidential counseling services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the employees and manager. After an employee’s departure, the remaining employees in the unit and their immediate family members have access to EAP services. For more information, visit or call Family Service Saskatoon at (306) 653-3327.

Why do we not just implement a hiring freeze?

A hiring freeze is not a strategic way of ensuring our workforce matches our priorities in a sustainable way. Instead, we are encouraging all departments to look at their staff complement strategically prior to posting any vacant or new positions to ensure new hires are strategically aligned with the university’s priorities.

Will there be early retirement packages available?

There will be no voluntary early retirement program. However, employees who are considering retirement are encouraged to let their manager or supervisor know. As a normal course of planning, this is an appropriate discussion for managers to have with employees who may be eligible to retire.

Are there any departments that are not undergoing workforce planning?

All departments, both academic and administrative, are being asked to look at their staffing complements through the workforce planning model.

I have heard all kinds of rumours? How can I find out what is true?

It is important not to pass rumours around. If you are uncertain about something you have heard, you may submit rumours for clarification and learn more about the rumours we’ve heard so far, online at

How much of the operating budget is dedicated to faculty and staff compensation?

The university dedicates 75 per cent of its operating budget to faculty and staff compensation.

  • 35% faculty
  • 31% non-academic staff
  • 4% senior administrators
  • 3% other instructional and research staff (for example sessional lecturers, research assistants, etc.)