Employee Experience

HR: Are you using design thinking to boost the employee experience?

boost employee experienceFor years, the most suitable occasion for the words “design thinking” and “employee experience” to appear in the same sentence would be somewhere in the fine print of an art school’s employment contract.

That isn't the case any more, however. The world of work is changing. In fact, the world of human resources is changing too, rapidly.

What used to be painted as one of the least exciting departments of a business, is quickly evolving to become one of the most dynamic and impactful.Each year, the internet is filled with thousands of articles on the latest and greatest HR trends.

Auditoriums are filled by eager listeners waiting to hear from event speakers on the latest “HR Disrupter” and what they should be applying to their skill sets.

It can feel a little frantic trying to keep up with every new trend.

Yet, for the past few years, both bloggers and keynote speakers alike have been stressing the importance of design thinking and its impact on the future of work and the world of HR.

So much so, it begs the question that if you aren't applying design thinking to your approach already, can you afford not to in the near future?


Wait, what is design thinking?

boost employee experienceIt’s at this point we should clarify that design thinking doesn’t entail endless corridors of mood rooms, marshalled by hipsters in turtleneck sweaters.

In fact, design thinking is really defined as a creative, solution-based approach to problem-solving.

For your business, that means putting your customer’s first by focusing on solutions for their challenges. It not only encourages “out the box” thinking on a day-to-day basis within a business, but it enables companies to innovate and evolve.

Tech giants such as Apple and Google have been known to prioritise design thinking in all of their processes, product and services. Allowing their teams the freedom to solve solutions creatively has driven staggering results.

Your HR department may not be tasked to use design thinking to unleash a new iPhone on the world, but it does encourage HR teams to think beyond their typical processes.

Allowing teams to focus on every employee’s experience and outcomes, as opposed to solely their service delivery within an organisation.

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Great! But where do we start?

For a business, design thinking would begin by placing their ideal buyer personas first.

Understanding who is buying your product or service and what their experience with your company looks like throughout their purchasing process.

For HR teams, those personas are your employees.

Every successful approach to design thinking is based on these 5 fundamentals:

  • Empathise:

    • The goal is to provide solutions for your persona’s problems. To understand their problems it’s key to understand your persona, or for HR, your employees.

  • Define:

    • Putting together a point of view based solely on your persona’s needs helps you define the problem you need to solve.

  • Brainstorm:

    • This is where creativity is allowed to thrive. Brainstorming creative solutions to the defined problems and persevering with the very best ideas.

  • Prototype:

    • It’s not often that everyone gets it right on the first go, so building a prototype of your solution to the problem is key.

  • Test:

    • Test, test and test again. Testing your solution with as many scenarios as possible means that it will hold up for your customers or employees.

So how does design thinking impact our HR teams?

Well, frankly it impacts just about every HR function you can think of.

boost employee experienceIn fact, Josh Bersin from Deloitte, predicted in 2017, that HR would stop designing "programs" for employees and rather begin designing high-value, fully integrated "experiences" that excite and engage employees and ultimately create a positive employee experience. 

Josh Bersin, was right.

2018 saw design thinking being integrated from the very first engagement candidates had with a company for an open position, all the way to retaining and developing key talent throughout their career.

2019 is set to be no different. In line with Mr Bersin’s predictions, here are some key HR functions which you could incorporate with a design thinking approach:

  • Organisational design

    • Where design thinking could help provide solutions for restructuring roles or the organisation itself

  • Improve employee engagement

    • Which, as research shows, can be driven by using design thinking to make more rewarding, and even improve the end customer’s experience.

  • Data

    • Design thinking enabled even the largest corporates like Starbucks, to find new insights in data about their employees’ engagement and customer satisfaction to drive for effective solutions.

  • Digital technologies

    • Utilising design thinking in the development of new digital tools and skills is critical in finding solutions for improving key aspects of HR’s role, like employee engagement, productivity and performance management.

Design thinking provides HR with insights into what their staff deem important within their role, what they want and need to succeed, and their experience on a day to day basis within the business.

Ultimately, this allows HR to better understand how to utilise and develop their key performers and most importantly improve their employee experience.

Does your company adopt design thinking within your HR teams? If so, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!

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