Article: Design Thinking: Helping HR simplify complex workplaces

Employee Assistance Programs

Design Thinking: Helping HR simplify complex workplaces

The latest Global Human Capital Trends report states that 79 percent of executives interviewed in this years survey rated design thinking an important or very important issue. But what is the reason behind this emerging trend and what can HR learn from it
Design Thinking: Helping HR simplify complex workplaces

Our jobs are getting increasingly complex. With the increasing applications of technological advancements, most employees today face an overload of information across platforms. The exponential increase in the level of connection that employees have an access to, has resulted in an explosion of information, overwhelming workers, while smartphones, tablets, and other devices keep employees tethered to their jobs. But all this has not necessarily meant that information is spread smoothly, making lives of employees much simple. 

In an article for the Deloitte press Tom Hodson, Jeff Schwartz, Ardie van Berkel & Ian Winstrom Otten write, “Yet despite employees being always on and constantly connected, most companies have not figured out how to make information easy to find. In fact, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of employees have told us they still cannot find the information they need within their company’s information systems." 

The increasing complexity hasn't necessarily translated into an increase in productivity. 

While traditional HR strategies worked to address specific challenges in employee engagement, training and motivation to a significant degree, they have done little to reduce the overwhelming amount of information that employees face today in the form of emails, messages, and meeting. To the extent where Deloitte reports that around two-thirds of companies now believe complexity is an obstacle to business success and a barrier to growth in business productivity.   In such work environments, it becomes imperative for HR professionals design employee process that helps them have better work-life integration and avoid eventual burnouts.

And one way HR can definitely is by integrating design thinking into the way they design employee engagement and retention strategies. 

But what is design thinking? 

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. At its core, design thinking is a tool before professionals to strategize and take decisions based on the final goal in mind, rather than looking to cure a specific problem; rather than being a problem-focused approach, it uses a solution and action-oriented mindset towards creating simple systems and process design.

As Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO defines it “Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” 

Differing from critical thinking and analytical framework of thinking, it works with ambiguous parameters and builds on the collective suggestions of the team. It enables professionals to create human-centered approaches to enable people to smoothly contribute towards achieving the final end in mind of the organization. Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s a solution focused and action-oriented mindset aim towards creating a holistic experience.  It draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user.

Design Thinking as an Ally 

Businesses are slowly but surely beginning to realize the benefits of applying design thinking to revamp existing practices and help make processes less complicated for employees to handle. When applied to the formal workplace, design thinking has a lot to offer to HR professional who tasked with creating employee experiences that enable them to function effectively and efficiently.  By incorporating design elements like digital design, user experience, and app design, HR professionals can create new solutions and tools that enable employee satisfaction and motivation, impacting the final productivity of employees.

Design thinking provides a means to focus on the employee’s personal experience and to create processes centered on the worker. The problem with current HR solutions that cater to the specific training assessing and engagement needs of the organizations is that they end up becoming processes in isolation. Most are built around forms, process steps, formal training, or classroom events. 

Design thinking, hence, might just help HR in define its new role as it assists employees to have a better overall experience. It will provide the much needed impetus to HR to move away from a process creation as an answer to burnout and work related exhaustion. By empowering HR departments with the tools and skills in design thinking, organizations will enable them to create more employee centric 'experiences' for employees. Once translated into a working reality it would help HR professionals to restructure complicated company policies in terms of the physical environment, how managers spend their time with employees and how companies select, train, engage, and evaluate people while clearing out the key bottlenecks created within. 

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Topics: Employee Assistance Programs, #TechHR2016

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