5 Recruiting Lessons You Can Learn from Lean Manufacturing Principles

Lean (or kaizen, continuous improvement) is not a new term in manufacturing, but it is not limited to production as many people think. Let’s see how recruiters can adopt lean principles to reduce wastes and enhance process efficiency.

The principles of lean manufacturing are mostly derived from the Toyota Production System, which helps Toyota take a great step forward from other competitors.

What is Lean?

When it comes to lean, people often immediately think of lean manufacturing or lean production, which was developed by Toyota.

The focus of lean is doing more with less. It seems to be the ultimate objective of any process in the world! The main principles of lean are creating and adding more values for customers by reducing waste in processes. Here are some key factors to remember:

1. Continuous improvement

2. Waste elimination

3. Customer centralization

4. Just-in-time operation

5. Employee empowerment

How to apply lean principles in recruiting

Since lean has been practiced in manufacturing industry for dedicates, many people think that it belongs to production only. Yet these principles of continuous improvement can be applied to every process in any business to gain the best efficiency.

For HR in general and recruiting in particular, lean can help the whole organization save cost, time and effort while improve the quality. In this article, I will limit the range in lean recruiting.

Customers of recruitment processes are organization, divisions, departments, teams (current employees) and potential candidates, of course. Lean recruiting aims to add more values for these end users and let them be the drivers of continuous change and improvement. Thus, as a recruiter, you need to understand the needs of every single work groups and take feedback regularly for the best results. In the long run, recruitment team in particular and HR department in general need to create and develop a lean culture in the whole organization.

Anything that doesn’t create values to customers and stakeholders is called waste. In recruiting, we usually think that the costs are external expenditure on hiring, but it’s not so simple. Although time to fill a vacancy is considered as one of top three valuable metrics of recruiting team performance in the LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2016, not many hiring managers talk about hidden cost under long time of hire.

Waste occurs on every day practices of hiring teams in sourcing, screening, interviewing and so on. By doing repetitively the same tasks every work day during the recruiting time, recruiters can only create a little real values. In a worse case, a wrong hiring decision can cost more than you imagine.

Thanks to lean recruiting, we can reduce maximum unnecessary time and tasks which can lead to better quality of hire. Here are some suggestions from VMST’s experts:

- Create standard frameworks and procedures

These meaterials will be used for automation (screening software, repetative processes, etc). You can quickly shortlist candidates who meet minimum requirements with less effort than ever.

- Make use of employee referral program

Not by chance is employee referral program a top source of quality of hire for several years (Source: LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2014, 2015, 2016). When recruiting a referral candidate, both recruiter and job seeker can benefit from less time, money and effort wasted. This source of candidates often have better performance, productivity and longer tenure as well.

- Understand the variability to adapt to any change

There are some times that your company needs to hire massive positions while some other times there is no demand at all. You need to analyze data of your company as well as the industry in several years to predict the needs and demands for different periods. By this way, you can quickly reallocate resources and handle all changes well.

- Empower employees for the best innovation results

Employee empowerment is not about managing people. Lean leaders need to encourage employees to think, act, react and control their own work. Please avoid micro managing style in a lean culture. Let all recruiting team members be the masters of their process, and resolve their problems by themselves in an autonomous way. It’s the fastest and most effective approach for continous improvement.

- Take feedback from stakeholders during hiring process

It’s the base for continuously improvement in recruitment process. As a hiring manager, you need to take candidate experience into account in every single step of recruitment. Also, keeping connected with other departments will help you take timely actions to provide the best values for the whole organization.

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