Improving Performance and Maximizing Efficiency for Manufacturers' Hiring Processes

April 15, 2010
An aging manufacturing workforce, fewer recent graduates and increasing technology in production requires manufacturers to make a larger investment in their employees.

As manufacturers continue to implement the 3 P's of Lean: Purpose, Process, and People, their focus on the third pillar, people, is going beyond their current workforce. An aging manufacturing workforce is depleting resources with fewer recent graduates learning the basic technical skills to provide replacements. And increasing technology in production requires manufacturers to make a larger investment in their employees.

This drives home the value of identifying the right person for the job. With longer learning curves and larger investments and the greater leverage of output per employee, the cost of a poor hire is on the rise. And yet the hiring practices for these employees hasn't evolved much beyond electronic applications and applicant tracking.

But manufacturers have solved this problem before when making decisions about other resources. By identifying specific purchasing needs and analyzing suppliers based on metrics rather than relationships through strategic sourcing techniques, the quality and performance of the supply base has increased. While certainly a more complex decision, the principles are similar: provide a standardized process that screens a candidate's skills and behaviors against the requirements -- and -- better outcomes will prevail.

The challenging part is to design a process that fairly and effectively screens a candidate. And this is where hiring technology comes into play. Used successfully for years in retail where high levels of turnover required automation to manage, the technology is now standard practice for most retailers.

A science based workforce selection process typically includes these tools:

  • Screening -- to help managers quickly identify candidates most likely to be a good fit
  • Hiring -- to help managers make objective, knowledge based evaluations of a candidate's fit for a specific position in the plant
  • Onboarding -- to expedite background checks, tax credit screening, employment eligibility, and payroll integration.

Using automated workforce selection solutions tied to a comprehensive workforce management solution, manufacturers can extend their lean initiatives by implementing a data-driven hiring process that helps them make better hiring decisions based on proven success factors. They can review performance of their hires on an ongoing basis and use these results to continuously improve hiring effectiveness. Additionally, streamlined workflows standardize the hiring process and help ensure compliance with union rules and federal regulations.

A Data-Driven Process Improves Hiring Quality

Without science-based hiring processes, manufacturers have no tools for screening and assessing applicants for competencies that accurately predict future job performance. Managers' hiring decisions are left to guesswork, instinct or intuition.

Behavioral assessment tools apply complex science to help managers make objective, data-driven assessments of candidates as they make their hiring decisions. While no tool can predict employees' performance with 100% accuracy, these assessments provide manufacturers with an efficient means of measuring critical aspects of a person's knowledge, skills, personality, experience, and motivation that influence whether the person is likely to succeed or fail in a particular job.

Using these tools can help managers identify applicants who are likely to demonstrate behaviors that make them successful on the job, eliminate applications without the essential competencies to perform the job effectively, and greatly improve the accuracy of hiring decisions. As a result, these tools can enhance the quality of the manufacturing workforce, increase output and productivity, reduce labor costs, and boost the bottom line.

When these tools are deployed within an integrated workforce management platform, manufacturers measure and analyze how hiring strategies are actually performing at specific plants, regions or across the enterprise. For example, manufacturers can take data from the workforce management system about the people hired using the workforce assessment tools (e.g., productivity data, absenteeism information and so on) and feed it back into the workforce selection and assessment tools to fine tune the screening process. They can also continually model the selection criteria after the characteristics of the company's top employees. This enables continuous improvements in the quality of the hiring process.

A Uniform and Consistent Hiring Process

Manual hiring processes often mean redundant manual tasks, paperwork, and fragmented processes. As a result, manufacturers may hire workers without all of the requisite background information they need to make a sound decision or comply with regulations.

Workforce assessment tools automate screening, selection, and onboarding processes to allow manufacturers to standardize on and enforce uniform and consistent processes based on characteristics proven to result in successful workforce performance. Manufacturers can capture candidate information and decision criteria consistently and accurately. Automated features also make the overall hiring process faster, more efficient, more comprehensive and less costly.

Regulatory Compliance

Automated and consistent processes that set clear standards for everyone to follow also ensure that manufacturers are compliant with both government and union hiring rules. By reducing subjectivity in the hiring process and creating a measurable, repeatable hiring cycle, manufacturers minimize the associated compliance risk. An automated hiring solution also facilitates the creation of comprehensive audit trails. These audit trails make it very easy to collect, disseminate, and report on data about the hiring process as required by many regulations.


With scientific-based, data-driven workforce assessment solutions, manufacturers have a tool that can help them extend their lean manufacturing continuous improvement efforts to their workforce. This allows them to improve their ability to hire the best workers for each position right from the start. Through integration with their workforce management solution, they can then measure the performance of new hires over time. Finally, by feeding results back into the hiring system, manufacturers achieve a closed-loop system that can help them continually improve hiring based on real world results. At the same time, standardized hiring processes minimize guesswork in the hiring process and help ensure compliance with complex government and union hiring regulations.

Gregg Gordon is senior director of manufacturing industry marketing for Kronos Incorporated which is a provider of workforce management solutions that enable organizations to control labor costs, minimize compliance risk and improve workforce productivity.

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