Are Your Recruitment Processes LEAN?

Are Your Recruitment Processes LEAN?

Lean is a principle we have adapted with great success within our own business and has formed the basis of recommendations to our clients to maximise efficiencies and streamline processes within their recruitment agencies. This blog outlines how you might use lean to do more with less within your recruitment agency.

What is Lean?

The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. Lean Enterprise Institute

In the 1980s, Toyota outstripped its rivals to become the biggest global car manufacturer from rising sales to market share. This was, in part, attributed to its streamlined processes which focused on maximising the value adding processes and eliminating the non-value adding processes. Jim Womack, in his seminal book, The Machine that Changed the World, popularised this process as “lean” and, with it, a new philosophy was born. Since then, “lean thinking” has infiltrated sectors and industries around the world as an effective management philosophy that champions “how to do more with less.”

Let’s look at how you can streamline your recruitment processes by accommodating lean thinking into your recruitment agency.

Customer Focused

Toyota strategists understood that, in order to adopt a process that eliminated waste and increased value adding processes, they needed look at things from a consumer-centric standpoint. Only then could they really identify the areas that were adding value.

In the recruitment industry, this equates to understanding the needs of the various customers in your business, whether they’re individuals, departments, teams, divisions, candidates or clients. Each group must be assessed separately, analysing data (where possible), to ascertain what makes their lives easier and their recruitment journeys efficient and stress free. This can be achieved through regular feedback from clients, candidates and your consultants themselves.

Identifying & Eliminating Waste

The Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC) has suggested that, for most manufacturing operations, “only 5% of activities actually add value, 35% are necessary non value adding activities and 60% add no value at all.” In short, if a process adds no value to the customer then it is waste.

Looking at those figures, anyone in a position of seniority in a recruitment agency that seeks to improve the bottom line must ask two critical questions:

What percentage of your processes really add value to your customer?
What activities can be made more efficient?

These simple questions often result in uncomfortable answers.

For example, the time to fill a vacancy is a valuable metric which can suffer because of waste occurring in everyday routines through each step of the recruitment journey – from sourcing the right candidate, screening and interviewing, to placement. With each step, waste can be identified and by adopting lean thinking gradually, you can begin to streamline each procedure.

There’s often massive room for improvement, but a few simple building blocks will help you start to eliminate waste:

  • Ensure processes are followed during the candidate acquisition, registration and interview process.
  • Create standardised procedures for screening and registering candidates.
  • Identify what data needs to be captured and entered in your recruitment software at each stage of the recruitment process.
  • Continually review the way data is entered, managed and searched for in your recruitment software.
  • Record and review where your placed candidates are sourced from.
  • Map the candidate journey from CV collection to placement, and understand how technology can be used to automate repetitive tasks, track the candidate journey and reduce errors from double keying data.

By analysing individual processes and identifying where the value really lies, your frontline staff can recruit more efficiently and spend more time undertaking value adding activities.

Just in Time

Under the leadership of Taiichi Ohno, Toyota implemented a significant move away from the manufacturing norm to the Just in Time (JIT) process where parts were supplied only as and when they were required. As noted in Roberta Russell and Bernard Taylor’s Operations Management, although this process left, “no room for error,” its success was undeniable and became widely accepted by other global organisations. In one study, American firms that introduced JIT achieved an average 50% reduction in labour costs and 70% reduction in inventory over 5 years.

The theory behind this revolutionary framework can, also, be adopted to streamline your recruitment agency’s processes. By analysing and relying on the quality of your data and identifying trends in the market and your business, you can predict which candidates need to be supplied just at the point where the demand is rising allowing your consultants to source the highest quality candidates before demand peaks. However, this can only be effective with a lean recruitment database and rigorous processes in place.

Read our blog about how to maximise ROI from your recruitment software.

Another example of where JIT can eliminate waste is in candidate compliance. So much time is wasted getting every candidate compliant as quickly as possible. By applying the JIT philosophy, your agencies can focus on supplying compliant candidates as and when they’re needed. For example, from your data you may know that your hospital clients in London need 30% more doctors in December. This enables you to prepare more candidates and ensure they are compliant, ready for the increased demand.

Employee Empowerment

The communication and trust required to ensure lean thinking can operate at its peak begins with every employee. Their endorsement of the philosophy is as important as the cogs in Toyota’s manufacturing line. The clear frameworks and structural foundations should negate the need for micromanagement and empower your employees.

For example, train and allow employees to deal with issues autonomously (have an escalation process where needed) and have a feedback process for improvements. Employees should feel determined and empowered to analyse and improve your processes with you. An empowered workforce is the most efficient route to continuous improvement.

Continuous Improvement

Every successful process needs to be reviewed and tweaked because every business will have their own specific requirements and methods for reducing waste. By analysing your recorded data and listening to your employees and customers, you can refine your processes and implement a more streamlined and efficient strategy that is bespoke to your business.

How Can a Recruitment CRM Help?

Technology combined with a successful lean thinking strategy can play a significant part in eliminating waste and making your recruitment agency more streamlined. We have outlined some of our recommendations below:

  • Identify what your staff and business searching and reporting requirements are.
  • Set minimum data capture requirements at each stage of a process, which will improve real time searching and reporting.
  • Ensure candidate, client and vacancy records are recorded and coded up correctly to make real time searching effective and tools such as auto matching more efficient.
  • Set workflow rules to build in best practice and negate the need for micromanagement.
  • Record all candidate and client interactions.
  • Use pre-set rate templates to prevent consultants going outside contractual pricing.
  • Limit who can view, add or edit certain types of data within your recruitment CRM to ensure your data is protected and maintained correctly.


Discover the 7 Secrets of Successful Recruitment Agencies by downloading our free eBook below.

7 secrets of successful recruitment agencies free ebook download