University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

News & Updates

Single, Streamlined Hiring Process Reduces Steps and Cycle Time
In spring of 2013, a cross-functional team gathered to redesign how the University of Minnesota hires its talented faculty and staff. The result was a single, consistent hiring process for all employee groups that reduces process steps by half and cuts the time from creating to filling a position by 30 percent or more. A pilot of the new process suggests it will reduce the average time needed to fill positions by more than a month.

The team, which included staff from the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, took a relatively new approach for the University: a facilitated Lean process called kaizen. Lean is a management philosophy and set of tools that seek to deliver value with less work and waste. In Japanese, “kaizen” means change for the better—in practice, it is a simplified approach to process improvement.

“Kaizen is about breaking a process down to its smallest, simplest parts and putting it back together in a more efficient and streamlined manner,” said Laura Negrini, associate director of the University’s Job Center. “It’s about small changes initially—low-hanging fruit—but it’s also about intentional, ongoing improvement: never settling for what’s already been done.”


Each year, the University fills more than 3,000 faculty and staff positions. The old approach to hiring was actually 16 different processes, depending on the type of employee being hired, and was perceived as slow, cumbersome, and inconsistent. For four days, the kaizen team and Lean facilitators from the state of Minnesota examined those processes step-by-step, from hiring requisition to filling or cancelling the requisition. They identified commonalities as well as inconsistencies, obstacles, and bottlenecks in the process and identified a few simple goals:

  • Develop a single, streamlined hiring process for all employee groups.
  • Define roles and responsibilities and assign them to central human resource staff and unit staff, as appropriate.
  • Reduce the number of process steps by 50 percent and the time to fill positions by 30 percent.
The team succeeded on all fronts. They reordered and simplified process steps to ensure that positions are appropriately classified, that advertised minimum requirements match the job classification, and that diversity goals are addressed prior to posting and advertising—eliminating “stutter steps” and rework. During the summer and fall, the University’s Job Center developed a Hiring Service Agreement and piloted it with a select group of hiring units to test the effectiveness of the new process and gather feedback. The results of the pilot were strikingly positive: 35 positions were filled, and each took an average of 39 fewer days to fill.

“The units I worked with had a good experience with the new process,” said pilot participant DeeDee Roberts from OHR. “We were able to walk through the entire process from start to finish, which helped us to understand what we would be doing and kept everyone accountable. As a result, we ended up closing out positions in less time.”

College of Liberal Arts pilot participant Barbara London agreed.

“It’s wonderful to have all of the steps detailed,” she said. “[The Hiring Service Agreement] provided a meaningful, documented way to determine how long it might be before a new hire is onboard.”

The Hiring Service Agreement is essential to the shared service model in the Office of Human Resources. The Job Center is rolling out the new agreement and process to the entire University community in the coming months—delivering a well-defined and simplified hiring process with clearer roles and responsibilities, shorter time to fill positions, and an improved experience for candidates and hiring units.