Getting to grips with three enemies of efficiency in your recruitment business

Marieta Bencheva ask how recently processes been reviewed in your recruitment business and highlights three inefficiencies to watch out for.

Overtime inefficiency can creep in to a business. In a competitive sector you need to do all you can to combat inefficiencies. Right now, some recruiters will be busy, others less so. Now might be a good time to review your processes so that you are well prepared for the moment when the economy picks up.

Let’s look at the three enemies of efficiency – rigidity, variability and waste – that may be undermining your recruitment business. 

Recruitment businesses need to be flexible and adaptable. In a rigid process people may wait for others to make their contributions before making their own. What’s more, they may not get on with anything else until they receive those contributions. 

If individuals are allowed more flexibility, however, they’ll know they can get on with other things while they wait. 

Note: flexibility doesn’t mean unstructured. Employees need to be clear how to manage their time/workload rather than simply being left to react. 

Combatting overly rigid processes is the first step in managing resources ‒ allowing staff to make better use of their time. Expecting 100% utilisation, however, is unrealistic. ‘Stuff’ happens and your team of recruiters and support staff need to deal with it quickly or risk a bottleneck.

Teams can be pushed to work at near 100% load. This means there is no flexibility to deal with unexpected variability. By viewing workload across entire teams, however, you can introduce flexibility and improve your capacity planning.

Waste can be broken down into eight branches: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproducing, over-processing, defects and skills. Let’s look at some of the most relevant to recruiters:

Waiting ‒ This is connected to rigidity (above). If people wait to proceed until someone else has made their contribution, you create waste. When different teams have different priorities, you can create long delays. Introduce more flexibility into your processes to minimise time “waiting around”.

Overprocessing ‒ How many checks are there in a process? By providing clear briefs you’ll help to minimise the checking needed, the number of mistakes made and the number of people included in the process.

Defects ‒ Mistakes take time to correct and are demoralising. People need to know what’s required, what the intended outcome is, what’s important, and how to go about it. Otherwise, they will experiment with novel processes to achieve an unclear objective, introducing mistakes and inefficiencies along the way.

Skills ‒ People need the relevant skills for their tasks. Sounds obvious, I know, but managers often misuse the skills within a team eg. I’ve seen experienced salespeople being used for time-consuming admin tasks. 

If left to continue unchecked, inefficiencies can run a recruitment business into the ground. Clients don’t feel they are getting good value, the company struggles to make a profit, and frustrated employees jump ship. So, review your processes and call in an expert when you get to the stage when their input will be beneficial and be lean and ready for the future.

Marieta Bencheva is co-founder of Consulthon, a UK management consulting expert network.

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