Six Sigma in Human Resource

Human resource departments—or, at the very least, human resource functions—are present in any organization with more than one employee, just as accounting and finance are. Lean Six Sigma is an effective strategy for enhancing human resource departments, functions, and human resource organizations. We’ll look at Lean Six Sigma in human resource from two different angles. First, we’ll look at how Lean Six Sigma is used in companies that sell human resource services as a service. Recruiters, human resource consultants, HR software vendors and developers, and payroll companies are among those businesses. You can already see that some of those businesses straddle various industries—a software developer may have to deal with human resource difficulties while simultaneously working in information technology.

Second, we’ll look at how human resource departments in any business engage with Lean Six Sigma projects both within the department and throughout the company. Human resource departments, like finance departments, are critical partners in any Lean Six Sigma project. HR personnel is often in charge of filling unfilled positions for new hires or collaborating with knowledge management on training programs, making them indispensable for projects involving the addition of personnel or modifying processes and functions. It’s vital to remember that Lean Six Sigma project team members can’t always handle every aspect of a project independently. The core Lean Six Sigma team doesn’t always have the time or skillset to create new training material when a project requires it. In other circumstances, the core team does not have permission from the organization to execute a role, such as recruiting and hiring, necessitating the involvement of auxiliary departments such as human resources.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma in the Human Resource Environment

The specific benefits of Lean Six Sigma inside a human resource organization or department are similar to those felt across industries. Lean Six Sigma can save costs and defects for the human resource organization while increasing productivity and quality. Within a business, advances in human resource functions usually lead to improvements throughout the organization—consider human resources as the root of the entire company. If the roots aren’t expanding into nutrient-rich soil, they won’t grow well or produce good fruit. Suppose the human resource functions are defective or deficient. In that case, the organization will be unable to provide quality personnel and assistance, often resulting in the hiring of the incorrect team members, inadequate onboarding and training, and low employee morale. Human resource departments can use Lean Six Sigma approaches to improve their functions to serve the entire company better.

Modern human resource departments are also facing challenges in recruiting and staff management. Human resources departments now have access to an incredible amount of data. However, without the capacity to transform that data into something useful for recruiters and hiring managers, HR professionals are forced to rely on outdated hiring approaches. Lean Six Sigma can assist HR firms in developing data-rich processes that integrate data into real-world workflows and are designed for recruiters who may not have data analytic skills. Faster hiring timeframes and greater accuracy in filling open positions with competent candidates could result.

The Design for Lean Six Sigma (DMADV) process can create and improve products and services for end customers and remove waste and defects to make those services more profitable in a human resource company that provides auxiliary services and products to other organizations. According to Dr. Mikel Harry of iSixSigma offers many different benefits Lean Six Sigma can deliver to an organization, including reducing employee turnover rate, improving employee satisfaction, improving the management of benefits and payroll, managing healthcare costs, and gaining helpful information employee exit interviews.

Challenges Implementing Lean Six Sigma in a Human Resource Environment

Lean Six Sigma faces the same obstacles in human resources as it does in other areas, such as persuading key stakeholders and sponsors of the need for improvement and the methodology’s efficacy. The nature of the data and processes being addressed is one problem Lean Six Sigma leaders confront when working with human resource operations that aren’t necessarily considered in other areas and sectors. Almost every human resource role requires access to confidential or sensitive data. It’s conceivable that team members may come into touch with such material when working on Lean Six Sigma projects in this context or that Lean Six Sigma leaders will have to work around constraints on what information can be made available.

Organizations frequently deal with data confidentiality challenges by selecting team members who can work with the data according to their level or position within the organization. While this strategy can be effective if a Lean Six Sigma black belt heads the team, some considerations must still be taken. First and foremost, Lean Six Sigma teams must ensure that everyone on the team is aware of the importance of maintaining secrecy. In some circumstances, especially if the Lean Six Sigma program involves consultants or contractors, corporations may ask team members to sign confidentiality agreements. Data must be protected both during and after the project; team members must never utilize information obtained during the project for purposes other than the project.

Data collected during a Lean Six Sigma project should never be used for retaliation, and employers should exercise extreme caution when using such data as a disciplinary reason for an employee. Is it the employee’s fault that the process isn’t working? If a process has never revealed a problem with an employee’s performance and a Lean Six Sigma human resource project shows one, the Lean Six Sigma team and supervisors should consider this. The employee may believe that everything is going great, and disciplining someone because of a Lean Six Sigma project out of the blue can build a negative culture around Lean Six Sigma in the future. Instead, Lean Six Sigma teams and relevant supervisors should focus on retraining or rectifying the process—even if the project is not related to human resources.

A final human-resource specific challenge faced by Lean Six Sigma teams is that cutting costs often means eliminating jobs. This can be true of any Lean Six Sigma initiative and is why human resources should be involved in projects. Across industries, there is a mistaken belief that “efficiencies” and “cost-cutting automatically mean removing jobs, but that is far from the truth. Companies spend a lot of time and resources recruiting good employees, and letting good employees go can be a form of waste (“Muda“). Lean Six Sigma experts in the human resource niche need to understand that removing a position is not the same as removing a job. Often, Lean Six Sigma improvements make better use of the skills of existing staff, and that can mean a change in function or position once improvements are made to a process. Human resource personnel and the Lean Six Sigma experts working with them face the challenge of positively communicating and implementing such changes.

In cases where process improvements mean cutting jobs, human resource experts are challenged with helping teams conduct such activities in the most positive manner possible. Some ways to mitigate the negative aspects of such an activity could include assisting employees in finding positions elsewhere in the company and ensuring employees are provided with excellent references.


In conclusion, implementing Lean Six Sigma in the human resource environment will improve quality and productivity. In ensuring the success of the deployment program in a human resource environment, the project team needs to understand the confidentiality of the data involved and be tactfully approached, that have a tangible impact on the job and the process. Finally, it is also crucial to leave a specific trail of knowledge that we have learned from the project to avoid specific supervisory or retaliation purposes.

Learn how to strategize and implement the Lean Six Sigma toolset in a human resource environment with our signature Lean Six Sigma courses.