Lean recruitment: What is it and how does it work?

Sudhanshu Ahuja

August 21, 2020

Recruitment is the foundation for organizational success. With the right talent, companies can achieve their goals and much more. It is for this reason that hiring talented employees is a top priority for CEOs. While businesses have a high dependency on recruitment functions, the methods do not always support better speed and efficiency. Manual and operational tasks often slow down the recruiters. By adopting lean recruitment, recruiters can streamline their processes and ensure higher productivity.

  • What is lean recruitment?

    The origin of lean recruitment lies in lean manufacturing processes. Large production units require accurate inventory management to manage seasonal demands. They need to have just enough to avoid excesses and reduce expenses.

    Apart from cutting costs, they have a high focus on reducing waste. In their context, waste refers to that part of the process that reduces efficiency.

    Lean recruitment uses similar principles to deliver better results with fewer resources. It is a method of continuous improvement where the recruiters implement changes to achieve higher efficiency. It is proactive recruitment, and the recruiters work to build a talent pipeline to fulfill future demands.

    Most recruitment departments adopt a reactive strategy. They act after they receive the openings from the hiring managers. The process of sourcing, shortlisting, and interviewing can take months. With lean recruitment, talent is readily available to execute new business strategies.

  • What is the foundation of lean?

    Toyota developed a lean production system that focuses on minimizing waste while maximizing productivity. Many other organizations have implemented and benefitted from their principles.

    In essence, it means automating the low-value tasks so that the employees can focus on more productive and strategic duties. When applied in recruitment, it allows the recruiters to contribute to high-value jobs. It could mean more conversations with the hiring managers, building a better pipeline of passive candidates, or deeper involvement in incapacity planning.

  • What is the need for lean recruitment?

    Hiring the right talent at the right time is not just necessary for business operations. It is also vital to maintain the right ecosystem where the employees are not overworked. When the resources are less, the same number of employees have to deliver more. Apart from this, there is also an opportunity cost in terms of lost work.

    However, the current recruitment system fails to hire qualified talent timely. The process typically involves the hiring managers stating the requirements to the recruiters. Then begins, the workflow, which consists of taking approvals, and inviting applications. The time taken for screening, interviewing, and serving notice period can be a long one. It can take a few months to get the new hire on board.

    A lean recruitment process can forecast the demands and facilitates a closer partnership between HR and the businesses. It is faster and is more efficient in hiring the right talent. As the new employees join timely, the businesses are also more productive and profitable.

  • What are the best practices to make your recruitment process lean?

    It may not be possible to remove the inconsistencies in your recruitment process right away. It may take a few iterations to achieve the optimum level of lean. However, you can start by automating the process wherever you can.

    As the workload of your recruiters will reduce, they will have more bandwidth to focus on high-value tasks.

    Here is how you can start. When you complete one iteration, you can begin the process again to identify waste and work towards reducing it.

    1. Know the waste 

    The first step is to evaluate the hiring process critically and identify waste. In this context, it could be operational or manual tasks. They take up a significant chunk of recruiters’ time. The recruiting process at any organization typically has the following activities that slow down the process.

    • Manual sourcing of candidates or not using the right sourcing ways. For instance, the channels for volume recruitment are different than niche hiring.

    • In the absence of a better method, manual screening can not only slow down the hiring process but also leads to bias and other inconsistencies.

    • It takes a lot of to and fro to schedule the interviews if recruiters have to call and set them up.

    • Most organizations that have still not automated the dashboards require the recruiters to fill up trackers. This process is not only tedious but also takes a lot of valuable work hours.

    • Lastly, manual job offer management is another area that can be automated to make the hiring lean.

    2. Automate to reduce the waste

    With automation, organizations can optimize hiring and reduce the workload of their recruiters. When the recruiters have more time to contribute to the strategic aspects of their job, they will feel more engaged and valued.

    AI-powered tools take automation a step further and make the process more efficient and productive. For instance, screening software based on AI can identify the most qualified candidates from a large talent pool. Instead of going through every resume manually, the recruiters can look at the final results to take the process further. Since it uses algorithms and a deep-learning model, the tool can also enhance the quality of hire.

    Impress brings screening software that adds more value to the recruitment process. Apart from identifying talent in a much shorter time, it also engages the candidates from the very beginning. Sharing regular status updates ensures that the applicants know what’s going on. The chatbot also conducts the first round of discussions with the applicants. As a result, the recruiters can be sure that their interest is real and genuine.

    Similarly, job board integration, automated interview scheduling, and offer management can result in lean recruitment.

    4. Encourage the recruiters to add more value

    One of the central tenets of lean methodology is respect for people. In traditional recruitment, recruiters have an excessive workload of operational tasks. When the low-value tasks are automated, recruiters can add more meaning to their roles. For instance, they can work on data to identify the best sourcing channels or candidate demographics.

    As the recruiters will be able to do what they love, they will be happier. The results will show in their output as they will come up with innovative solutions for better hiring.

    5. Workforce planning

    A shift from the traditional model of recruitment will work only when the recruitment function can forecast talent needs. Recruiters can achieve this in multiple ways. Firstly, the recruiters need to work closely with the businesses to understand their strategies for growth. If the company is eyeing a larger market share or developing a new product, it will need more resources. If there is a slowdown expected in the coming months, the recruiters can put a brake on actively sourcing candidates.

    Secondly, there are a few quarters in which organizations experience higher attrition rates. Typically, these are the months that follow annual promotions and pay hikes. The recruitment team can analyze the past data to identify such periods and ramp up their work in advance. It will ensure the continuity of work without any loss due to attriting employees.

    Finally, organizations can learn more about the engagement of employees to understand their levels of engagement. Disengaged employees are more likely to leave. With the help of advanced tools, this crucial information will be useful in workforce planning.

    6. Engaging passive candidates

    Passive candidates are the ones who are not actively looking for jobs. They are happy in their current roles. They constitute more than 70% of the job market. Since they are not in the market, the competition to hire is lesser.

    Recruiters can use professional-networking sites and social media to identify these talented resources. The next step is to start conversations with them. They may not be responsive in the beginning but may warm up after repeated attempts.

    There are several ways in which the recruiters can build a better relationship with them. The hiring managers can subsequently call them for discussions as they deem fit. The idea is to have a pipeline ready for the time when the organization wants to hire. Here are the best tips for hiring passive candidates.

    7. Monitor recruitment metrics

    By analyzing KPIs, the recruiters can understand the area that needs more focus. For instance, the recruiters could be using ineffective sourcing channels. Or, the onboarding experience could need improvements. It is an essential step for building a lasting relationship with the employees.

    With frequent monitoring and reviewing of data, it can result in better processes. As they become more refined, the outcome is lean recruitment.

  • In conclusion

    Lean recruitment is a continuous process of improvement. It begins by reviewing the internal processes critically. It entails being proactive in fulfilling future demands. Building a highly-efficient hiring system involves automation to eliminate waste. As it happens gradually, the recruiters feel empowered to add to the organization’s growth.

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