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CEOs to HR: "Think LEAN!"

With rapidly advancing technology, new human capital trends, and the rethinking of education, CEOs often look to HR to develop strategies to most efficiently manage workforce growth. Do we outsource functions or bring talent in-house? How do we keep up with automation while engaging our workforce? Where do we develop potential vs. hire for expertise?

To add to that complexity, there is a new dimension to workforce planning. Roles that were once broadly defined and considered core functions are being chopped up with the goal of gaining efficiency or access to expertise.

Targeted, or micro-outsourcing has been common in IT for years. Now we are seeing the robust “gig economy” mature in response to micro-outsourcing needs and a lean production mentality across all functional areas, including human resources. Lean management philosophy seeks to eliminate waste of time, effort or money by identifying each step in a business process and then revising or cutting out steps that do not create value. It further creates an opportunity to question whether or not a function or task is best addressed by internal or external resources.

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Amanda Haddaway, Managing Director for HR Answerbox, sees an increased demand from businesses that apply a lean manufacturing approach to every department, including Human Resources.

“We’re seeing a trend towards outsourcing specific HR projects. The business case for this is easy: you can hire a subject-matter expert for one particular project and save the organization time and money. The consultant is able to come in, solve the problem du jour quickly and with ease, and not need full-time billable hours or benefits.”

Developing lean expertise within HR is smart business. Partnering with companies like Payroll Network so you don’t have to worry about changing payroll regulations, or TalentCMO for comprehensive recruitment marketing, not only maximizes limited resources, but provides access to functional expertise that might not otherwise be available to a small or mid-size business. Being adept at identifying opportunities to eliminate productivity waste and managing a variety of external partners is an HR skill in high demand.

Tobin Lehman, President of New North, a digital marketing agency specializing in B2B, agrees:

"Among our clients, we are definitely seeing a trend towards buying solutions that solve specific marketing challenges rather than engaging marketing generalists. For many companies, it makes more sense to acquire and pay for the expertise needed as opposed to making a full-time hire just to solve the 20% need."

When you make a full-time hire you make an investment. You are essentially paying that person to stay off the market, with the expectation that he or she will contribute value beyond the typical 3-4 productive hours per day. When deciding whether to buy someone’s time (full-time hire) or just the particular expertise you need (buying the talent), it’s good to start with a little self-reflection. Ask yourself:

  1. What are our core values? How do they inform our human capital strategy?

  2. Do we see ourselves as builders or buyers of talent?

  3. Where will investment in our talent resources reap the most benefits? Follow the 80/20 rule.

Identifying where you can avoid adding wasted capacity, and thereby increase value to the company, is a winning talent management strategy and will be time well spent. Mastering that skill will cement HR’s value now and in the future as the definition of “workforce” continues to evolve.

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Written by: Allison Small, Co-founder and VP of Program Development and Execution, TalentCMO

Links and other interesting stuff:

Is Your Recruiting Social? Are you “marketing” your company and jobs to talent using social? By 2020, 2.95 billion users globally are expected to be on social media. Reach out if you need help engaging talent on social. 

Looking for interns? Join our Teaming for Talent program and connect with students in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. 

Check out this sweet Career Showcase (a standalone microsite built for candidates to show company's authenticity) that we built for one of our clients.

Ana Filipovic Windsor