What is the most popular item to look up in the traditional yellow-pages phone book? According to a market research survey (conducted by Knowledge Networks, Inc.), the most popular category is “Restaurants.” Number two is “Medical Doctors,” followed by “Auto Parts.” What can we surmise from the popularity of these categories, where inquiries run in the billions? One interpretation could be: People are eating so much that they get sick, and therefore need medical care, and good reliable transportation to get to the doctor. In any case, since restaurants is the most popular category, wouldn’t it make sense to make the restaurant section much easier to use, maybe by making it color-coded with special typeface and larger print in the yellow pages? In fact, the telephone book industry could transform the entire phone book by focusing its design on popular or high traffic items. The web has certainly grasped this concept, with sites such as Yahoo! that prepackage popular categories for easy navigation. If we look at all the recruiting activities in an organization, there are many things that can be focused upon, from making sure the new hire has a spiffy new computer plugged in and ready to go on the first day of work, to overhauling the employee referral program. So given the array of things in which to invest Time, Intellectual capital, Money and overall Energy (we’ll call these resources TIME), how should an HR or staffing manager prioritize budget and resources for the coming year? There are typically several strategies to TIME allocation each year. One is to do the same thing as last year, give or take a budget increase or decrease. Another is to incorporate the initiatives that didn’t make it into last year, making room by cutting other initiatives. Other strategies involve incorporating one-time projects, like system implementations, as well as changing sourcing budget allocation away from cost centers such as agencies. Where’s Your Focus? Like the phone book restaurant section, there may be something in your recruiting operation that could warrant more focus this year. But you may not really know what it is unless you conduct a deeper analysis. Here’s a suggestion. Make a list of all the activities within your recruiting operation. Divide these activities into the following categories:
- Staff Roles and Resources
There could be dozens of activities in a category like Process/Program and only a few items in another category. Beside each activity place one or two of the following indicators:
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- High traffic. These activities affect the most people either internally or externally. Retailers have always known about high traffic. What is placed in aisles or central rotundas or at the checkout are all high-traffic items. So, too, your website careers section or intranet can follow the same strategy. If the most popular thing to do on an e-commence site is order books, shouldn’t there be a big “book” order button? The electronics, CDs, and other items can be smaller. The same goes for your career-oriented web pages.
- Low traffic. Converse of high traffic.
- High impact. These items don’t necessarily have to affect a lot of people, but could greatly affect the organization’s performance in some way. An example of this might be a technology investment that would save the company millions. I recently spoke to someone about a key hire that was made at his previous software company. The software company was floundering for almost two years trying to get its next version out the door. Once this key hire was on board, they were able to release the software six months later. A high-impact hire impacts the organization as a whole, not just one silo group. A high-impact decision, such as re-engineering inefficient processes, could save the company millions each year.
- Low Impact. Converse of high impact.
Validate High Targets of Others After this exercise, take this a step further by validating some high target items in your recruiting organization. High target items are those that are identified as most needed from individual perspectives. Ask recruiters the following questions:
- What are the three most popular things you repeat over and over each day or week?
- What are your three biggest pain points?
It’s likely they can answer these questions quickly. Cross-reference their answers with your list and see if there are any improvements that can be identified in any of your categories. Could purchasing new computers for recruiters be a high-impact item? The answer is yes if it’s computers that are making your slick software run like a slow dog that has recruiters so frustrated they are still drowning in paper. Ask hiring managers, HR, and others these questions as well. Once the list is formed and validated with your High Impact, High Traffic and High Target items, your “to-do list” for the year should start to take more logical shape. Initiatives will be based on solid planning and needs, not merely reacting short-term. Focusing your organization’s TIME where it counts the most will have the biggest impact at the end of the year and beyond.