Design Thinking: A Survival Strategy for HR

Record low unemployment and demand for specialised skills that increasingly exceed supply is increasingly putting employees and contractors at the advantage when it comes to negotiating job descriptions and remuneration.

This means employers, more than ever before, need to take a different approach to recruiting and developing their contractors and staff. They need be in touch with what prospective employees and contractors want from their work so they can engage them throughout their employment…. and what they increasingly want is meaningful, rewarding work, and simplified transactions.

With this in mind, KPMG states that 38% of leading HR executives now cite ‘design thinking’ within the top three skills required by the human resources personnel to add value to their organisations.1

Design Thinking is about developing a human-centric mindset that focuses beyond designing employment programs or processes to create meaningful experiences.

Traditionally, Design Thinking has been focussed on refining products and services – in other words, on understanding the external customer’s needs and desires in order to better meet their needs through product and service delivery.

However now, we’re realising the same approach needs to be applied to attracting, selecting, developing and retaining employees and contractors.

That’s because, as Deloitte notes, there is a “clear statistical relationship between increases in frontline engagement, increases in customer service, and revenue growth… whether your team is focused on strategy, process transformation, or implementing new technology, applying design thinking to reimagine and craft the employee experience is key to driving sustainable business performance”.2

The idea behind design thinking is to create an experiential journey for employees, based on a knowledge of, and empathy for, their needs, goals and behaviour patterns. This knowledge can be acquired and added to through interviews, focus groups and informal discussions.

Undertaking this collaborative approach to HR, will help you attract and secure the employees that best mirror your own corporate culture. It will also help you with onboarding and help you to assign your people to specific roles, find opportunities to transition them into new roles, and ultimately, retain and develop your best people into even greater assets for your business.

As Deloitte explains, it’s a matter of changing your mindset. For example, instead of thinking in ‘process’ terms, “What do we need new-hires to do on their first day?” you think in ‘experience’ terms: “What do we want a new employee’s first day to be like?”2

Design thinking, whether you’re considering the needs of your external customers or your internal customers (employees and contractors) comes down to:

  • Empathising with them first so you understand their needs and frustrations;
  • Defining the problem, 
  • Brainstorming the best ideas and solutions, then;
  • Building prototypes to test what works and what doesn’t, then 
  • Redefining and testing solutions as necessary.3

At the Ayers Group, we support recruiters and corporate organisations with back end solutions to streamline payroll and administrative processes, freeing you to focus on attracting, retaining and developing the best talent.  Talk to an expert from the Ayers Group today to find out how we can help you.