Continuous Improvement is an important practice in manufacturing, operations, business, and other types of large enterprises. But is continuous improvement important in recruitment, and what does that look like? Here are some thoughts from Grapefrute. 

What is Continuous Improvement?

From industry innovators Cargill to Amazon, the world’s giants use continuous improvement to stay ahead in a competitive world. CI is an organizational practice with its roots in manufacturing, but it can be applied anywhere people work together. 

Continuous improvement is a method of continually evaluating every process in an organization, looking for ways to make incremental improvements. Put simply, it consists of four steps:

  1. Identify. Look for opportunities to reduce waste and inefficiency
  2. Plan. Make a plan to reduce the waste
  3. Execute. Implement the planned changes
  4. Evaluate. Determine how successful the changes were

As the name implies, these steps are implemented continually in an ongoing cycle, and all members of an organization are trained to constantly look for inefficiencies and ways to improve practices. 

Because it can be applied to any process, CI allows organizations to save money, increase quality, improve outcomes, and become more competitive. 

Continuous Improvement in Practice

While the idea of CI sounds simple, it is not easy to implement. In fact, it runs counter to the way most organizations (and people) operate, because most people prefer to solve a problem once and then move on. It is often painstaking and unenjoyable to continually scrutinize daily activities to search for improved efficiencies.

Remember that continuous improvement doesn’t just apply to business products and activities with business outcomes: it applies to every aspect of the organization, including internal structures and communications, support and administrative processes, and even to physical facilities and infrastructure.  

In organizations, front-line and low-level employees are the most aware of waste, and are the most impacted by inefficiency. They are the best resource for identifying these issues, and the best asset for implementing change, so an effective continuous improvement strategy must work to cultivate their input and recognize their contributions. In this way, CI is closely tied to company culture, and the two concepts complement each other. 

Applying the Principles of Continuous Improvement to Recruitment

Recruitment is not just one complex task: It is an ongoing set of processes and tasks that can all benefit from improved efficiency and better quality. Some of the recruitment processes that can benefit from continuous improvement include:

  • Job requirements and job listings. What are the current processes for obtaining job requirements? Are those processes smooth and effective, or should additional communication and clarification be needed? Are those requirements realistic for the job market? Do your job listings result in responses from qualified candidates?
  • Talent sourcing. Are your job listings getting good responses? Are you posting listings in the appropriate places? Where do your best candidates come from?
  • Offers and acceptance rates. What is your success rate at hiring the candidates you prefer? Do you have a high acceptance rate, or Is there a long negotiating phase? Are candidates changing their expectations after the screening process? 

These are just a few phases of the recruitment process and just a few aspects of the recruiter’s role. The principles of continuous improvement could also be used to evaluate internal communications, technological processes, employee retention, and more. 

Adopting the principles of CI is a risk, because organizations also need to adopt the values of CI. Organizations that use strict hierarchies and rigid communication structures often struggle to achieve the kind of frank, open communication and collaboration that facilitates continuous improvement. Leaders and managers that are unwilling to consider constructive criticism or be receptive to change are not suited for continuous improvement. And employees who provide feedback and suggestions which are disregarded or “stolen” without recognition will quickly cease to take continuous improvement seriously. 

For more insights on how you can improve your recruitment processes, employee satisfaction, and employee retention, contact grapefrute today.