Using Lean Six Sigma in HR Recruiting

Using Lean Six Sigma in HR Recruiting

Lean Six Sigma as a concept was introduced in the 2000s by Barbara Wheat, Chuck Mils, and Mike Carnell in their book called – Leaning into Six Sigma: The Path to Integration of Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma. Another book that presented the combination of Lean and Six Sigma was by Michael George and Robert Lawrence Jr, which was titled –Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed. Both the books aimed to be an emerging guide for organizations to combine the improvement methods of Lean and Six Sigma to attain operational excellence.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is a combination of the managerial concepts of Lean and Six Sigma. Its main principle is to analyze processes and remove resources that do not create any value to the end customer. Let us first understand the components of Lean Six Sigma.

Lean focuses on the identification and removal of the eight types of waste in a process are– waiting, defects, overproduction, non-utilized talent, motion, extra-processing, inventory, and transportation. This concept was developed by Toyota in the 1940s when it was realized that a process with waste in a large-scale production company, like in Toyota, meant that the total quantity of waste created was extremely high. Therefore, it was necessary to introduce methods and tools to identify and eliminate waste.

The Six Sigma approach originated at Motorola in the 1980s. It is the set of tools and techniques used to identify and eliminate anything that caused variation in the process. The main aim of Six Sigma strategies is to improve the quality of the business processes by minimizing variability and defects.

Although Lean and Six Sigma are different management approaches, they complement each other. There is increased efficiency when both are used in combination – Six Sigma tools help identify the variation in the processes and through the Lean concepts those variations can be eliminated by ensuring minimal wastage. Therefore, Lean Six Sigma helps employees build their problem-solving skills by providing an organized approach and a combined package to ensure quality and productivity.

While traditionally introduced in manufacturing companies, its principles have been widely used in other sectors such as Supply Chain, Finance, Human Resources, Healthcare, Marketing, etc., since the early 2000s.

Lean Six Sigma can be implemented in any industry or function with process constraints.

Examples of wastes in the Recruitment process:

Using the Lean philosophy, we can evaluate the different types of wastes in the recruitment process.

To understand the benefit of using Lean Six Sigma in Human Resources, it is necessary to understand what kind of benefits an organization can hope to gain by implementing it.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma:

Lean Six Sigma is an unceasing procedure for improvement. However, it is important to understand what it seeks to improve. This can be better clarified by the advantages it provides when implemented in an organization.

  1. Simplification and Standardization – Lean Six Sigma identifies the areas of waste, unnecessary process steps, and duplication of effort and resources. By streamlining the processes, it ensures that the processes are simplified which results in a decrease in overhead costs and reduction in time taken to execute the process. This ultimately leads to fewer defects and higher quality.

Lot of MNCs like Amazon, Dell, General Electric and Credit Suisse have claimed to have successfully implemented Lean Six Sigma and benefited from it. For Switzerland-based Credit Suisse, quality means getting it right the first time, a tagline its Business Excellence leaders are driving across the organization. Lean Six Sigma can help achieve that goal.

  • The decrease in costs – When the processes are simplified and errors are identified and eliminated at the root, the dependence on costly inspect-and-rework cycles is also eliminated. This results in overall cost reduction and increase in profitability. By applying Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques, General Electric was able to cut costs beyond $2 billion.
  • Improved business efficiency–Standard and simplified processes make control and management easier due to fewer errors. When processes have less variation and errors, they become more predictable which consequently offers an improved ability to control them. More resources and revenue are available due to the streamlined processes which can be utilized to grow the business.
  • Improved employee performance – Lean Six Sigma tools provide for an organized process of defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling. This organized approach helps employees feel in control when they are finding and fixing the problems. Employees feel empowered while facing problems and this, in turn, motivates them to perform better.

Employees also get an opportunity for learning and improving their skill set because they have increased exposure to other functions and senior management. Attaining belt certification is a valuable credential. Many job postings require that an applicant have a Lean Six Sigma credential.

Lean Six Sigma Belts and Roles:

Process improvement is a challenging process. The right person with the precise Lean Six Sigma skills can help attain vital and sustainable change. Most organizations rely on an independent certifying body for training and certification. The two most widely recognized organizations that provide certification are the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the International Association of Six Sigma Certification (IASSC).To take full advantage of the benefits of Lean Six Sigma, companies need to recognize and choose the type of professional that best suits the company’s requirements.

Below are the main roles and certifications in Lean Six Sigma:

Role of Lean Six Sigma in HR:

There are some misconceptions about Lean Six Sigma – that it is useful only for manufacturing processes, it is only for big companies, it is about cutting jobs. However, that is not true. Lean Six Sigma may not be very effective in every process. Lean Six Sigma principles prove best when used on processes and problems that are repetitive. In terms of Human Resources – recruitment, employee review administration, benefits administration, and relocation are such processes where identifying and eliminating waste can provide the most valuable addition.

Using Lean Six Sigma in HR processes can provide benefits such as lower turnover rates, reduced hiring time, and improved employee learning curve, policy development, standardizing safety and compliance issues and conflict management. The emphasis should be on performance measurement and improvement.

How can Lean Six Sigma be applied to HR recruiting?

Let us have look at how Lean Six Sigma methods can be applied to the recruitment process. These can be applied to other HR processes as well.

  1. Defining the problem – The first step is to define the problem with the recruitment process -evaluating the value of the current process, identifying any pieces or processes that are being duplicated, areas requiring rework. The goal – of minimizing errors and waste – should be kept in mind. The performance gaps come to light when we know what the goal is, whether it is the satisfaction of the candidate or the hiring manager, or employee retention.
  • Measurement–After the performance gaps are identified, the next step is to measure the impact of these gaps on the business. This step determines the connection between the performance gaps and business implications. The amount of extra time and resources utilized to complete a task affects not just costs but also the quality of service delivery.
  • Analyzing – Using appropriate Lean Six Sigma techniques, HR professionals need to identify the factors that affect recruitment success, including the factors that are critical to recruitment success. Some of these can be understanding the needs of the department, selecting the right message to be displayed in the job posting, selecting the right media for recruitment, the mechanism for short-listing, onboarding and induction process.
  • Improvement–The analyzing phase brings to light the prospective solutions to the performance gaps. These solutions are evaluated during the improvement stage to identify the best solution which is likely to provide effective improvement in the processes.
  • Controlling–The final phase in the implementation of Lean Six Sigma is to maintain the improvement levels. The goal of HR professionals is to have the right person at the right job through continuous performance assessment and looking for opportunities to reduce waste. They need to ensure that the process improvements continue to add value to the organization.

HR problems are qualitative in nature and process performance data is sparse. However, we can see that there is potential in applying the quantitative analysis of Lean Six Sigma to HR processes. One of the major goals of Lean Six Sigma is to view every aspect of a process to add value to the end customer. The very first step for any HR department should be to define every aspect of onboarding and create a process map to identify each step of the process. The financial impacts that are associated with the onboarding program need to be considered to ensure that the processes are effective.

Companies, nowadays, are on the continuous lookout for employees to improve their operations. From HR companies like the Zurich-based Adecco group and even domestic merchandise retails store chains like the American Bed Bath & Beyond are seeking out employees with Lean Six Sigma certifications to help optimize their human capital.

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