Case Study: BIS Assessment to Facilitate Restructure


For the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), change meant re-structure; finding a way to fulfill its share of a significant programme of government cost savings, while at the same time ensuring the department was still fit-for-purpose, able to work effectively, and keeping the best of the best while releasing, fairly, those who didn't make the grade.

The department wanted to assess staff members on its own professional skills for government core competencies.

Our Approach:

Mendas was asked to come into the process in Feb-April 2011 as an impartial assessor, but also to devise a fair way of sorting through the main way workers would be assessed – a written statement each employee was asked to write demonstrating project management and other key skills.

"Staff had 200 words to evidence their core skills, and we were brought in to read the scripts, analyse the results, cross reference to other indicators, and produce a list of its best people," says Mendas' project leader Ann Hartley.

"It was a very responsible job – people's livelihoods were literally on the line here. We checked, and re-checked, and re-checked again. Top in our mind was making sure the wrong people didn't make it through just because they were great copywriters. By the same token we didn't want to lose highly skilled people, just because they fell flat when writing their 200 words."

The written assessment formed 30% of the overall assessment for roles (leadership scores and performance ratings over the last two years formed the other 40% and 30% respectively) and we read, collated, and cross-referenced against all of BIS's performance data.

Nearly 2,500 responses needed analysing, and a dedicated team of seven worked solidly on it for two months. In the end, we produced a high-to-low ranking of all staff members.


BIS believes nothing has quite been done on this scale before, but not only did we fairly and dispassionately whittle out the low-performing staff BIS could no longer support, we know the department made considerable gains:

Diversity analysis showed that for gender, ethnic origin, disability, working pattern and religion/belief, there was no significant difference in the proportion of staff in the successful versus surplus groupTrade unions welcomed our independence and evidence-based approach to assessment which has helped ensure a smooth and timely running of the processFew grievances from employees against BIS's decisions have been upheldBIS was able to meet its cost-reduction targets and has paved the way for the department to move forward and complete its job matching process quickly and efficientlyOther government departments have expressed an interest in using a similar methodology for similar re-structuring programmes.

Client testimonial:

"Mendas successfully played a key role in the impossible task thrown at HR earlier this year: to implement a selection process in which everyone would know whether they had a job or not. As a director relying on the process to deliver a quality result, I just wanted to say what a great achievement has been brought here and moreover, that BIS now has an exemplary model it can show into Whitehall." - Russell Grossman, Director of Communications, BIS

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