By Douglas G. Baber, SHRM-CP, Interim Human Resources & Risk Management Director, St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners; and Shanelle Tomlin, SHRM-CP, PHR, Human Resources Generalist, St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners
Florida Benchmarking Consortium (FBC) provides Lean Six Sigma (Yellow and Green Belt) training to various St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioner employees. Recruitment and hiring was an area within Human Resources (HR) that was identified as a critical process that needed improvement. Therefore, a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt project, specifically aligned to our organizational strategy, was assigned to a group of six (6) project team members to “Reduce the Number of Days to Fill Vacancies”. This Green Belt team was tasked to reduce their hiring time to less than sixty (60) days. Ultimately, there was a reduction in hiring time from sixty-eight (68) days to fifty-one (51), surpassing the initial goal set by the FBC project team.
In this article, we will share:
- The impact of a slow hiring process
- Identifying hiring needs within your organization
- Best practices to reduce your time from job requisition to hire
Having the right people in place and at the right time is the key to success for your organization, right? But what if you have a challenge in getting people into your organization at the right time? Slow, drawn-out hiring processes can inadvertently reduce the effectiveness of your recruitment plan. Quicker processes does not always mean better; however, a quicker process does not necessarily mean compromising quality either.
After all, a slow hiring process not only affects your organization internally – but negatively affects the candidate’s experience. So, what will your new hire have to say about your organization’s hiring process? Slow, complex hiring processes will cause your candidates to become disengaged, while potentially running off many of the highly qualified candidates. Meanwhile, managers are being faced with increased vacancies and short-staffed worksites, causing employees to become overworked and burned out from performing in absence of adequate staffing.
What is really the cost of not filling vacant positions? When was the last time you evaluated the organization’s hiring process? How is your hiring process portrayed by the hiring manager, employees and candidates? As part of a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt project, St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners Human Resources Department was tasked to review the recruitment and hiring process, identifying areas of improvement for efficiency and effectiveness. This project was aligned with our organizational strategy, focusing on upholding our guiding principles “Service, People, Community and Financial Management”. In review of the effects (direct and indirect) of extended vacancies, some of the following were experienced within the county departments: customer delays, reduced productivity, workload / caseload back-up, increased costs (overtime, contractual labor, etc.), loss of qualified candidates, etc.
In an effort, to reduce the time to fill vacancies for St. Lucie County, the following was implemented:
- HR reorganization to meet demands of the recruitment process
- Deployment of a robust applicant tracking system to effectively manage the full cycle recruitment process
- Increased frequency in application review, in addition to applications being reviewed for minimum qualifications before being sent to hiring managers for consideration
- Created a Hiring and Recruitment Guide to assist hiring managers with the process, mitigating the hiring errors; thereby, reducing the time needed to make a quality hire
- Further flexibility in new hire start dates and onboarding process
In 2016, a small HR restructuring occurred, lending an opportunity to improve the recruitment process by using an existing employee to focus solely on the recruitment, hiring and the onboarding process. In review of the existing processes, it was determined our existing practices did not meet the current hiring needs for the County. HR is using the application tracking system to its fullest capability, which operates with many functionalities to include job posting, eligibility listing, applicant scoring, interview scheduling, and employment offers in one centralized location.
Application review time proved critical in getting qualified candidates to the hiring manager. One of the items implemented to decrease turnaround time, was the enhancement of job descriptions to better reflect the requirements for each position. Applications are now being reviewed daily and candidates that successfully meet the minimum qualifications are sent to the hiring manager for further review immediately once the position has closed. In addition, there was increased flexibility in orienting new hires to the organization, depending on the need of the department and ability to remain compliant with payroll submission requirements.
Lastly, a hiring and recruitment guide was created to provide hiring managers with a general understanding of the steps in the hiring process and assisting them in navigating through it successfully. The hiring and recruitment guide detailed information regarding the employment laws and full life cycle of recruitment from position budget approval to the new hire’s first day of employment. Proactive hiring and recruitment training not only mitigates the potential risk of hiring blunders but makes for a better and more capable hiring manager during the process.
We recognize the hiring processes will vary based on the needs of each individual organization, so it is important to be able to benchmark your data against others. According to the SHRM Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report (2017), the average time to fill a position is 36 days, which is down from the 42 days initially stated in the 2016 data. Establish a benchmark by researching other local municipalities and other resources to establish an attainable goal for reducing your average time to fill positions. Create a hire process flowchart to review your organization’s existing practices. Plan ahead to fill vacancies by having a succession plan in place within departments or divisions. Take some extra steps in making the hire process more efficient and effective; and determine what can be done to decrease the hire time without compromising the validity of the existing process.
Society for Human Resources Management. (2017). Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/business-solutions/Documents/Talent-Acquisition-Report-All-Industries-All-FTEs.pdf
Author: Douglas G. Baber, SHRM-CP
Organization: St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners
Title: Interim Human Resources & Risk Management Director
Co-Author: Shanelle Tomlin, SHRM-CP, PHR
Organization: St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners
Title: Human Resources Generalist
Postal Address: 2300 Virginia Ave, Fort Pierce, FL 34982