Can your Recruitment Process Benefit from going Lean?

Mention Lean in a manufacturing context and people think cost saving, value creation and increased productivity. Mention it in a recruitment context and they look at you blankly and ask “is that about downsizing or reducing budgets?” Lean was originally developed in Japan by Toyota to reduce waste in the manufacturing of cars and this successful methodology has made the leap to other industry sectors as well as the administrative processes.

When we think about recruitment, the hiring process is essentially the Human Capital Management Supply Chain and the Lean principles are easily transferable to recruitment.

The core philosophy behind Lean is that clients (either internal or external) do not pay for mistakes or waste but for value. As such, companies need to increase the value of their products or services in order to maximise profits. Implementing Lean systems enables companies to eliminate processes that don’t offer value and maximise improvement opportunities on a continuing basis.

The predominant function of Lean Management is the elimination of waste – and throughout our 20 years experience in the Recruitment Profession, we have certainly seen our fair share of waste! Waste mitigation – Waste is identified as anything that does not add value for the end client. There are six kinds of waste that are identified in Lean that are transferable to the recruitment process.

1. Overproduction – occurs in recruitment during attracting, identifying and engaging more candidates than needed to deliver results.

2. Inventory – this is your candidate pipeline. These are the candidates that are currently ‘under consideration’ (not to be confused with workforce planning).

3. Defects – a defect in Lean terminology is something that does not conform to requirement or expectations. This does not refer to people being defective but rather identifies the corruption in the process where candidates are sourced, contacted, screened and interviewed but ultimately do not match the hiring criteria.

4. Waiting – Lean defines the waste of waiting as any time that something is held before the next step. In recruitment, waiting occurs when the position is not being moved through the approval or hiring process or when candidates are not being advanced through the recruitment process.

5. Over- processing – occurs every time more work is done than is necessary, such as engaging, screening and building relationships with candidates that will ultimately never be submitted for the role or gain a position at the company.

6. Transportation – Lean defines transportation as each time a product is moved it runs the risk of being damaged, lost or delayed. This can be very relevant to the interviewing process if, each time a candidate goes in to meet a new hiring manager, there is no consistency in the process or message. The “product” then risks being damaged.

There are many reasons to consider applying Lean to your recruitment processes. Reasons such as creating value for all stakeholders, reducing the recruitment cycle time, enhancing communication and promoting efficiency as well as the creation and refinement of replicable and scalable processes.

Being more innovative in your recruitment processes and significantly reducing the time and effort wasted can give you a sustainable, competitive edge over your competitor, ultimately hiring the right people for your organisation resulting in a greater return on the investment in your people.

Written by Dani Cuff and Jodi Walton. For more information on how to make your recruitment process Lean, contact Harrison McMillan– Lean Certified Consultants –