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How to Apply Lean Sigma Methods to Improve the Human Resource System

Lean Sigma, the quality management strategy used by businesses to eliminate waste, reduce defects and improve customer satisfaction, can also be used to streamline processes in the human resources department.

Applying Lean Sigma practices to HR functions such as recruiting, hiring, training, compensating and managing performance involves training personnel in Lean Sigma techniques, establishing process improvement projects and evaluating efforts.

Once you establish roles and responsibilities, you can begin to define, measure, analyze, improve and control your HR functions using Lean Sigma methods.


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Steps to Apply Lean Sigma Methods

Improve the Human Resource System

Identify a champion in your company to sponsor HR process improvement activities. Provide training to individuals in the HR organization using free resources, such as the “Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods” course available from MIT’s OpenCourseWare website. Identify individuals in your HR organization to study and obtain the Black Belt credential provided by the American Society for Quality.

Black Belt personnel typically lead process improvement projects. Additionally, identify HR employees who should get training to obtain Green Belt certification. Green Belt personnel typically work on process improvement projects.

Prioritize your proposed process improvement projects based on the need to eliminate waste, reduce errors and improve client satisfaction within your HR policies, procedures and processes.

Review your company’s balanced scorecards, strategic plans or dashboards to determine critical needs and select processes that may benefit from improvement efforts in both the short and long term.

Calculate metrics to help align your process improvement projects with your company’s strategic goals and performance measurement system.

For example, calculate the “Benefits as a Percentage of Revenue.” If your company’s goal is to reduce operating expenses, reducing the cost of benefits may contribute to your company’s overall success.

Analyze your selected HR processes through flowcharting to illustrate separate steps of your process in sequential order.

Determine which steps, if any, may no longer be necessary or require adjustment. For example, your process may stipulate providing written letters to job applicants. Save money on postal costs by switching to email as a correspondence mechanism.

Make small changes first. Identify the impact and risk of those changes before implementing them on a wider scale.

For example, transform your orientation training to a self-paced format only after testing its usage with selected new employees. Ensure the cost savings efforts do not cause other problems.

Reward process improvement project successes by recognizing individuals who participated in pilot projects.

Communicate the new HR processes, policies and procedures through meetings, newsletters and presentations.


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How to Apply Lean Sigma Methods to Improve the Human Resource System


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