Is Design Thinking the Next Big Thing in HR?

Is Design Thinking the Next Big Thing in HR?

Deloitte’s 2016 Human Capital Trends report discussed an interesting and emerging concept in HR: design thinking. They define “design thinking” as “becoming experience architects.” But what exactly does that mean, and how might you put this idea to use in your organization? Read on…

What is design thinking?

Basically, this phrase is short-hand for a common concept: addressing employee engagement by thinking about the employee experience. Specifically, in the modern workplace, more demands than ever are being made of employees, and it can easily overwhelm and disengage workers from their tasks, with reduced productivity as a consequence. Design thinking means thinking about and designing the employee experience to minimize stress and frustration, and instead create a working experience that is “compelling, enjoyable, and simple.”

What does design thinking look like in practice?

Under this concept, HR creates processes to govern almost every aspect of the employee experience: physical environment, how managers spend their time, recruitment and onboarding, etc. Specifically, HR asks how it can create or architect the best possible experience for employees. 

For example, previously an organization might have offered ten different options for 401(k) plans. Under design thinking, the company might recognize too many options can be paralyzing and stressful – and actually reduce employee participation. Instead, the company designs an experience with only those three options offering the best performance.

Does design thinking work?

Deloitte’s survey found that companies with high-performing HR organizations were five times more likely to be using design thinking than companies at large. That’s a pretty significant finding. 

How can you get started with design thinking at your organization?

Phrases like “design thinking” and “experience architecture” makes this concept sound more complicated than it is. If you substitute “simplification” for “design thinking,” you’ll achieve many of the same results. 

For instance, Deloitte cites a telecommunications company that needed new employees to learn about a staggering array of products, processes, etc. New hire turnover was a problem, so they thought about ways to adapt the onboarding experience. They created a staged 90-day onboarding program to help employees acclimate to the new information in comfortable and accessible steps. 

Your organization might start by thinking about programs or processes that seem to frustrate or cause friction with employees, and consider ways you might similarly streamline or simplify the experience.

Need more information about employee engagement? CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR best practices, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our integrated HR outsourcing solution, contact us today.