LEAN HR – Eliminating Waste from Recruitment/Talent Acquisition

At its core, Lean is about the identification and elimination of waste through a structured approach to problem solving. It focuses on reducing the complexity of each process and identifying areas of improvement.

Lean HR = smART HR

It’s all about AGILITY

 Over last few years, all organizations have been under pressure to improve performance. With the changes in the economy and the time it has taken to start to recover, the need to reduce cost while maintaining or improving production has become nearly universal. This is especially true in staff functions like HR.

Most of the expense of running a business, other than manufacturing, is in salary and benefits of employees. When you are a cost center like HR, with no reasonable expectation of producing revenue, there is not much that can be done to improve an organization’s bottom line other than lowering costs. It is very difficult to generate savings, and the siren’s call of employee cost is one that can be difficult to resist. But resist you must if you are to build a viable program of continuous improvement.

While the alternative is through “process improvement”, unfortunately, “process improvement” has become synonymous with “headcount reduction” which leads to an immediate negative reaction to any changes proposed, besides facing difficulty in recruiting team members and acquiring data.

In most instances this means…..but is actually not

  • Reducing the level of service offered to employees,
  • Decreasing the benefits they can expect from their employer,
  • Cutting headcount in the department, or some combination of those options.

From the very beginning, it will be important to shield eyes from headcount when looking at cost savings. Not only is it dangerous in the long term as those savings are rarely realized as expected. Hence, our option then is to find ways of –

  • Reducing the cost of HR without sacrificing benefits, quality, or people.
  • The challenge of improving the way work is done;
  • Eliminating waste, and being as efficient as possible.

This is only possible only when the concerned authorities occupying the so called ‘senior tags’ in the organization come together and sayLet’s Encourage Agile Nature”.

Having said that, I am also happy to share that there are organizations that are inclined to get this into action. Today I am going to share one such “Parul’s Lean Love Story” of an organization that am currently associated with.

The Premise – “Parul’s LEAN Love Story”

On a business working day, I was driving my way to meet Mrs. Parul Mehta, Director – HR (India) of US MNC. Her husband happens to be a friend of mine. During one of the tele-con with her, I have promised her that I will save 25% of her resources [time, people and money] by applying Lean and Six Sigma methodologies in HR processes.

However, she claims that HR processes in her organization are very vibrant and optimized. As such there is no scope for any further improvements. However, as a friend of her husband, she agreed to give me an appointment & gave me a slot of 30 minutes to explain my proposal.

Finally the day of appointment happened & I very much understand that it is a make or break situation for me.

The Set-up

I reached the office of Parul 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Naturally (:) 🙂 :)), she made me wait for extra 15 minutes. I was asked to wait in the conference room. And while I was waiting, I was served a coffee. And I took the sip, I could see Mrs. Parul Mehta walking into the conference room.

Her body-language was so loud that I didn’t hear “Good afternoon” that she whispered. Her body-language was loud enough to tell me that she is not interested in this meeting and that she is meeting me ONLY because of her husband, who has referred me to her.

We can’t attribute the attitude to her personality as “Lean HR is not very popular in India and those who are working in HR Function have that natural tendency of hesitation towards bringing a change that they have hardly witness in the land. Moreover, over a period of time, Human Beings naturally fall in love with the procedures and process that they have been following for long”.

The Interaction

As she entered, she was immediately into the agenda for the discussion and quickly inquired into what is the value that I can add with my proposal.

Given the background, the belief that she carries on the concept and the fact that I have very little scope to pitch in to win, I did not get her on to a trip of making her understand the concept of Lean, types of wastes, continuous improvements etc. as it was already done through mails & over the phone earlier.

In the light of the above, I focused my talk on “Understanding the General Recruitment Process” followed in her organization” which she explained as follows:

  1. Get request from hiring manager.
  2. Reconfirm and finalize job description.
  3. Release Internal Job Posting on Company Intranet at a same time asks employees to refer their friends and acquaintances for the role.
  4. Work on other channels of sourcing – job portals, job boards, recruitment consultants, and social media.
  5. Receive resumes. After basic screening, send resumes to hiring manager for short listing
  6. Coordinate interviews based on availability of hiring manager. Some roles require more than two rounds of interviews
  7. Negotiate for salary and date of joining
  8. Make an offer and keep follow-up with candidate till the date of joining

As the discussion progressed, I slowly started getting into the details and got to understand the following:

  1. The average time of Request Generation to that of on boarding is around 60 – 75 days (close to 30 – 45 days to make an offer). Some positions take much more time.
  1. Short listing and interviewing eats away the maximum time because:
  • For technical short listing and interviewing, they are dependent on hiring managers and they take their own sweet time.
  • Candidates are not available as per time given by hiring managers and hiring managers are not available as per time suggested by candidates.
  • This hide-and-seek continues till the position become very critical and filling of that role become do-or-die situation for hiring manager
  1. Getting relevant profiles is also a time consuming process
  2. Requisition from Hiring Manager contains:
  • Job title, new hire or replacement hire, level of experience,
  • Expected joining date (which is usually “urgent”), and
  • Approvals from hiring manager as well as the reporting manager of the hiring manager”.
  1. A job description consist of:
  • List of job activities,
  • skills and competencies required,
  • Educational background
  • Experience level &
  • Approximate salary budget

And then I could see a bit of “frustration” on her face as each of the above (especially 2 & 3 appeared to be challenging for them).

Important Vs. Priority

Lean HR - 2The Pain Points

  • They don’t have relocation policy in place. At the same time, their hiring policy doesn’t say “Keep it Local”. However, they are willing to forego the wider choice of having better talent by opening-up to look at people from other towns / cities in view of the management’s decision. However, it becomes an exception when it is for some very crucial skills. An interesting situation of “rigidity in flexibility”
  • They have experienced candidates going back on the offer taken and not joining them. Many of the times such information is known only on the day the individual has to join. And these leaves them with no alternative to “spin the wheel all again”.
  • As a part of their recruitment strategy and part of branding, decisions regarding the type of institutes a candidate must have studied from, percentage scored, type or size of companies he or she must have worked etc. will be made by Team HR.

At the end of it…

From the above, I have understood, there is lot of waste in their recruitment process which is eating their time, resources, and opportunity cost. And I was certain of helping them reduce the recruitment cycle time by at least 15 days by doing the following:

  • Be a part of their hiring process (at least 4 – 5 hiring’s)
  • Capture real time data pertaining to the time taken at each stage of the hiring activity

The curious PARUL – “Real Time Data…what is it & how do you do that?”

Since I am not going to get paid for this (I winked at her) and told that I will only be able to give the full details.

However, to build on the opportunity that I had (her curiosity created this opportunity for us) and in order to give her the confidence that I can do this for her, shared few of the probabilities that we worked upon with our previous clients that were arrived after a series of discussions, debates, expectations, brain storming, time & motion study of each stage / step in the recruitment process.

  1. Receiving Manpower Requisition Form along with job description, name of stakeholders and interview panel.
  2. Create scope of relocation. It will help in getting best talent from the market and will keep the organization & Team HR to be abreast with the competitors.
  3. Eliminate the need of candidate having studied in tier-1 institutes as well as percentage they might have obtained in their schools and college. It will not affect the brand but it will certainly increase the talent pool to select from.
  4. Best days to schedule job interviews are Friday’s and Saturday’s or early in morning or late in evening.
  5. Involve all stakeholders in interview process. Take panel interviews, if possible or else schedule all rounds of interviews on same day.
  6. Be part of short listing and interviewing process to understand the expectations of the internal stake holders. One must know why some candidates have been rejected, so that appropriate care can be taken in future screening the profiles. It will help in improvising the recruitment process as well as eliminate wastage of time.
  7. Managing the “Pool of Pipeline”. Make an offer to one & keep at least two equally good candidates in pipeline duly deciding on the time / durability of pipeline so that it helps the Team HR as well the organization at large to save themselves from falling on the trap of “No Show…start it all over again”

It is Time for Elevator Pitching

Having quoted the above areas, I further showcased some of my work that I have done with my other clients in helping them make lean recruitment processes.

And as we closed our meeting, she asked me to provide her with TWO references among my clients for her to take feedback on my work, which I readily agreed & gave her the details.

This made me sense that Mrs. Parul Mehta was looking convinced with my work & methodology. Hence felt that it is the right time to put the ball in her court and said “If you decide to engage us, we can work on more results.”

 And there was a beginning…

 Three weeks after our first meeting, she called me up to schedule another meeting, so that we can discuss about commercials and payment terms. Currently, I am working with her on FIVE projects. She has also recommended our name to some of her HR friends in Industry.

– Composed By: Sanjeev Himachali

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