‘Lean’ is one of those words that’s difficult to avoid in today’s business. More and more business are using customer centric lean methods to boost value for their customers whilst reducing wasteful processes. Lean is not the latest fad or buzzword, in fact Lean ways of working have been around in some form or another since the 1940s when Taichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda created the Toyota Production System.
The term Lean was coined almost 30 years ago and has since been used in all industries from manufacturing to services companies. Recruitment is one area of business that many forget when applying lean and this can have a damaging effect on your employer branding.
What is Lean?
To sum it up briefly, Lean is the continuous improvement of the way you work in order to maximise the value for your customers using fewer resources. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well actually it’s not as simple as doing more with less. There is a toxic misconception that Lean is about cutting jobs and making your employees work twice as hard. Once you understand the Lean way of working, it becomes apparent that it is infact about making the best use of the resources you have in order to improve your value to your customers.
Value and waste have been mentioned quite a lot so far so I’m going to clarify what this means in the context of applying Lean to your recruitment process.
Value is defined by your customers (candidates, employees and hiring managers) and is measured by the worth placed upon goods or services. When looking at each step of your recruitment process you need to ask yourself “Does the customer care if I do this or not?” The customer must be willing to “pay” for it, by pay we mean provide money, time, resources etc. In order to create value for your customers the process step needs to be right first time and the product or service must be transformed in some way. In recruitment terms a transformation of the service is usually found at each contact point such as submitting an application or receiving a notification.
Waste is divided into three main types – Muda, Mura and Muri. Literally translated from Japanese these are Waste, Unevenness and Unreasonable.
Muda refers to the 7 wastes and can be further split into two forms. Type 1 Muda is necessary for the process and can be seen as an essential non-value add activity. Type 2 Muda is non-value added and is unnecessary for the process.
The 7 Wastes
- Transportation – this is any movement of your product or materials that is not required to perform a value-added activity. Every time you move your candidates from one person to another this creates an opportunity for variation or damage to your employer branding.
- Waiting – waiting in any form is wasteful. This is the biggest and most damaging form of waste in common recruitment processes.
- Overproduction – this is where you produce more than required. Often we interview far more candidates than required, get your job descriptions and screening process right first time and you won’t spend too much time interviewing candidates that are not right for your company.
- Defect – also known as correction, repair or rejects. This describes any process, product or service that fails to meet specifications and is a waste. When you put out a rushed job description that attracts the wrong candidates or even worse, a job ad that doesn’t attract any talent, this is a complete waste of resources.
- Inventory – inventory of any kind in your process is waste and adds no value to your customers. Anytime a candidate is kept on the back burner can be seen as inventory and the longer they sit there, the more chances of losing them to a competitor. The quicker you can convert candidates into employees, the quicker they start to bring value to your business.
- Motion – the movement of a person’s body that doesn’t add-value to your customer can be seen as waste. This can be seen anytime someone walks around the office trying to schedule a meeting between HR, Technical and Hiring managers.
- Extra-processing – also known as over-processing is processing that adds no value to the customer. Having more than one person screening CVs or writing lengthy candidate reports is over-processing and wasteful.
Mura or uneveness is the variation in an operation. The waste here is caused by variation in quality, cost, or delivery. The mura in your business is made up of the resources that are wasted when quality cannot be predicted. In recruitment the cost involved is in testing, rework, overtime, and losing in process candidates.
Muri is the Japanese word for unreasonable, impossible, or overdoing. This is when you try to do more with less opposed to doing less with less. By doing this you tend to overburden your people with demands that exceed the capacity of your resources. The foundation of Lean Methodology is to respect your people, by disrespecting your people by giving them an unreasonable workload will crumble the foundations and bring down the house! Muri leads to high employee turnover, sick leave and poor decision making.
So what does lean recruitment look like? A lean process is smooth, agile and delights your customers. A Lean Recruitment process is standardised and repeatable. The process is fast and accurate. Imagine a recruitment process that could be put into action as and when required, a lean process is repeatable by any hiring manager saving setup costs. Any errors are quickly flagged up and adjustments made to improve the process. You should follow the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle to ensure you have the best possible process. Share best practices with your colleagues and apply them to your standard Lean Recruitment process. Avoid wasting time by automating sourcing and search and reduce bottlenecks.
A Lean Recruitment process will boost your employer branding as candidates in the process will enjoy it, no matter what the outcome is. Be known as the company with the great recruitment process, not the one with the slow and arduous process. Not only will you look better inside and out, you will save recruitment costs and be able to apply your resources to activities that provide income to your business, by shortening your process through the reduction of waste, your new employees will start bringing in money to your business.