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THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2017
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Implementation Case Studies Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 1 of 2

Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 1 of 2

In this case study, a team strives to improve the recruiting process in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company. Part 1 focuses on reducing the recruiting cycle time. Part 2 focuses on decreasing the effort required to fill a job opening.


Rising attrition is a common problem across industries. Tight monthly, quarterly and annual objectives leave little room for error when it comes to having the required manpower being available consistently. Unwanted attrition results in two significant challenges for human resources (HR) teams. They must work to continuously:

  1. Decrease cycle time to fill a job opening.
  2. Decrease the effort required for a successful recruitment.

The case described here uses total quality management (TQM) to address these problems in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company in India. (Note: The details of the process have been condensed and modified for the sake of confidentiality and easy of storytelling.)

A two-day quality awareness program introduced the cross-functional project team members to TQM (including just-in-time [JIT], total quality control [TQC] and total employee involvement [TEI]). Fortnightly meetings then started to address the problem at hand through the seven steps of problem solving:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Research the causes
  3. Generate countermeasure ideas
  4. Test and modify the ideas
  5. Implement ideas
  6. Standardize procedures
  7. Compile quality improvement story

The case study is described in two parts: 1) decreasing cycle time and 2) decreasing effort.

Step 1: Define the Problem

Following the recommend practice of TQM, the project team began by defining the beginning and end of the process – in this case, the start and finish of the recruitment process. The possible starting and end points are shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Possible Beginning and End Points in Recruitment Process
Start End
Employee resigns or there is otherwise an available position (1) Make employment offer to successful candidate (3)
HR receives email for initiating recruitment (2) Employee starts work (4)

After discussion the group agreed to take up the process between HR’s receiving an email to initiate recruitment (Point 2) and an offer being mailed to a candidate (Point 3). It was concluded that the events between Points 1 and 2 and then between Points 3 and 4 were not within the control of the project team.

To measure the current state (problem = desired state – current state) of cycle time data, an overview of past recruitments was pulled.

Average cycle time (A) 64 days
Standard deviation (σ) 52 days
A + 3σ 219 days

The team members agreed (after heated discussion) that they would be happy with the result if they could reduce the current state of A + 3σ of 219 days to 45 days – an aggressive 80 percent reduction target.

Steps 2 and 3: Research the Causes/Generate Countermeasure Ideas

In JIT problems, the process of improvement typically involves the following three steps:

  1. Draw current state process map.
  2. Apply JIT principles to generate countermeasure ideas.
  3. Draw proposed process map including both value added and non-value added (NVA) activities.

The current process steps from HR’s receipt of the initial request to fill a position through to the offer letter being accepted are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Current Recruitment Process
Step Number Activity
1 Send resignation message to HR with request to initiate recruitment
2 HR manager directs hiring team to start the recruitment process
3 Log into employment website/contact recruiter
4 Identify/collect candidate resumes
5 Receive resumes
6 Shortlist resumes
7 Send shortlisted resumes to department manager
8 Agree to interview date
9 Call candidate for interview
10 Interview 1
11 Interviewers complete feedback form
12 Send feedback form to HR
13 Plan for interview 2
14 Schedule interview 2
15 Interview 2
16 Interviewers complete feedback form
17 Send feedback form to HR
18 Identify/collect resumes (batch 2)
19 Receive resumes
20 Shortlist resumes
21 Identify/collect resumes (batch 3)
22 Receive resumes
23 Shortlist resumes
24 Interview 3
25 Interviewers complete feedback form
26 Send feedback form to HR
27 Select candidate
28 Email HR regarding selected candidate
29 Send offer letter

The key JIT countermeasure ideas to reduce cycle time are to:

  1. Reduce waiting time (typically 50 percent to 70 percent of cycle time) between finish of one activity and start of the next activity, and
  2. Eliminate NVA activities – activities that add time to the process but no value.

Step 4: Test and Modify the Ideas

The team first focused on reducing waiting time. In order to quantify the potential of reducing waiting time, a test was proposed: process one job opening with all members of the team being briefed to not let the activity wait at their desks and to record how much time it took to complete the relevant tasks. The results are detailed in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Timing of Steps in Recruitment Process
Step Number Activity Time* (Minutes)
1 Send resignation message to HR with request to initiate recruitment 0
2 HR manager directs hiring team start the recruitment process 25
3 Log into employment website/contact recruiter 35
4 Identify/collect candidate resumes 4,320
5 Receive resumes 1,080
6 Shortlist resumes 120
7 Send shortlisted resumes to department manager 5,760
8 Agree to interview date 8,890
9 Call candidate for interview 30
10 Interview 1 1,020
11 Interviewers complete feedback form 330
12 Send feedback form to HR 0
13 Plan for interview 2 40
14 Schedule interview 2 2,880
15 Interview 2 5,880
16 Interviewers complete feedback form 120
17 Send feedback form to HR 0
18 Identify/collect resumes (batch 2) 1,440
19 Receive resumes 1,440
20 Shortlist resumes 1,440
21 Identify/collect resumes (batch 3) 8,640
22 Receive resumes 1,440
23 Shortlist resumes 60
24 Interview 3 2,880
25 Interviewers complete feedback form 0
26 Send feedback form to HR 0
27 Select candidate 0
28 Email HR re selected candidate 0
29 Send offer letter 0
Total (minutes) 47,870
Total (days) 33

The team was greatly enthused with the result of 33 overall process days when compared to the past average of 64 days and A + 3σ of 210 days. The team believed that the targeted reduction of 50 percent was achievable.

Next the team turned to reducing NVA activities and rework. Looking at the activities in the existing process revealed that not finding enough suitable candidates was a recurring problem. The effectiveness and breadth of the initial candidate search was enhanced to avoid rework. This led to the elimination of seven out of the 29 steps in Table 3. The now 22-step process is shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Revised Recruiting Process
Step Number Activity Process Time (Minutes) Waiting Time (Minutes)
1 Send resignation message to HR with request to initiate recruitment 0
2 HR manager directs hiring team to start the recruitment process 25
3 Log into employment website/contact recruiter 0
4 Identify/collect candidate resumes 360
5 Receive resumes 5
6 Shortlist resumes 60
8 Send shortlisted resumes to department manager
9 Agree to interview date 0
10 Call candidate for interview 30
11 Interview 1 300 960
12 Interviewers complete feedback form 30
13 Send feedback form to HR 0
14 Call candidate for interview 2 5
15 Confirm interview date 15
16 Interview 2 180 960
17 Complete feedback form 10
18 Compensation offer determined 60
19 Compensation offer sent for approval 0
20 Approval received 120
21 Send offer letter 30
22 Offer accepted 480
Total (Minutes) 1685 1920
Total (Days) 8

The group was asked to estimate a fair time for each step with no undue delays. The revised process includes some waiting time when it comes to directly interacting with candidates, whose availability is an uncontrolled variable. The total of all times added up to eight working days and a reduction of 75 percent in cycle time. The drop from 33 days (shown in Table 3) to eight days pleasantly surprised the group.

Testing this idea was achieved by treating one recruitment as a special case and ensuring the minimum waiting time through the process. Team members recorded how long each step took to complete.

The test recruitment took 18 days compared to 33 days originally. Two further recruitment test cases took six days each.

Step 5: Implement Ideas

The process was implemented for all future recruitments. The cycle time for each recruitment was plotted in a graph shown below. The reductions in cycle time achieved in 25 recruitments are shown here.

Before (Days) After (Days) Percentage Improvement
Average (A) 63 8 More than 85%
A + 3σ 175 30 More than 80%

Cycle Time Recruitment – Before and After

Cycle Time Recruitment – Before and After

Step 6: Standardize Procedures

The 22-step process shown in Table 4 was documented, and the staff were trained to adhere to the new recruitment process. Regular tracking of each recruitment was introduced to preempt slack from creeping back into the process. In addition, each recruitment’s cycle time was recorded and graphs were produced to monitor the results. Any delays were analyzed for root causes and addressed.

Step 7: Compile Quality Improvement Story

The quality improvement story was prepared and presented to the company’s management team.

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Comments

Dhiman Banerjee

Nice article. Would like to know whether there was any impact on the quality of hire and whether that measure was included in the project as a boundary.

Reply
Niraj Goyal

Hi
Quality of hire has not been included as a measure becuse a hired candidate’s qualitu would be evident only after he has worked for some considerable time. In any case the study worked to am objective of getting at least the same quality in less time. It worked and by cutting the waiting time and non value adding stages – which do not have any effect on the quality of the outcome.
After reading Part two perhaps this question will be answered better as we belive the process would result ib better quality of candidates. We will try to answer this question at that stage if you raise it again.
Niraj and Meghana

Reply
TANI

THIS PROCESS ENDURES TOO MUCH. AS A EMPLOYEE I WOULD DEATH OF FAMINE UNTIL BE HIRED, AND FOR ENTERPRISES THEY WOULD LOSE AN ELEMENT THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN CHOSEN BY ANOTHER COMPANY. What I mean this is a waste of time, time is money, and we must think about human needs… I have been unemployed and all that you want in the moment is to be hired quickly.

Reply


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