Improving Human Resources Using Design Thinking

Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated with discovering new and unfamiliar prospects. Despite my reluctance to take pills or receive injections, I experienced immense satisfaction assisting others as a nurse. My siblings would frequently tease me for finding it easier to memorise complex phrases rather than shorter ones; “the distinction is evident” would remain in my memory much more effortlessly than the simpler “7-up”.

Exploring new horizons and comprehending the universal interconnectedness of the universe always captivated my interest. This keen interest led me to undertake a lifelong study of natural sciences – an area where I’ve always found solace. The fundamental laws of science can remarkably provide us with clarity on topics that are fundamental to our daily lives. For instance, let’s take Newton’s second law of motion, which gives us the equation F = ma (F = Force, m = Mass, and a = Acceleration). From this, we can infer that a modified equation, a = F/m, is necessary to calculate a. Building on this, we can derive that an individual’s pace of progress, or their “acceleration,” depends on their drive to accomplish (their “inert force”) and their ability to acquire the necessary skills to advance in their field (their “mass“).

Over the years, technology has undoubtedly made significant progress, and I believe that the ingenious technological solutions we see today are a result of humanity’s persistent efforts to simplify our daily lives and make them more productive. It is particularly thrilling to observe the technological breakthroughs in Asia that have impacted several sectors positively, such as finance, entertainment, agriculture, medicine, and energy. To know more about the creative technological solutions, visit Works’ blog.

The digitisation of traditional business segments is a tremendously exciting development as it not only benefits personal growth but also attracts attention to investment opportunities in Asia. According to Emmanuel Delaveau, a General Partner at Partech, “Asia is one of the most promising regions for future growth, with several emerging tech hubs providing opportunities for young individuals to contribute to the technology industry’s evolution.” The philosopher Martin Heidegger believes that technology is not just a product of human labour, but a state of mind that progresses over time. This is a crucial concept to consider when contemplating the implications of the aforementioned advancements.

As a Human Resources Specialist at a digital business, I find technology to be one of the most engaging aspects of my job. With the help of technology, we can streamline tedious tasks, providing better services for both our clients and staff members. It’s important to recognise that technology is versatile and some may not be well-versed with the latest gadgets and applications. Using tools like Google Forms, Excel, and Google Sheets has allowed us to substantially reduce our turnaround time and improve the quality of service we offer.

The constantly evolving workplace has given us in Human Resources an unparalleled chance to prepare for the future of work. To overcome the challenges and hurdles that arise, we must adopt a creative approach and utilise Design Thinking to develop innovative solutions. This approach will not only ensure that our solutions are effective but also future-oriented.

An Explanation of “Design Thinking”

The idea of “Design Thinking” has been in existence for a while, but it has only achieved widespread recognition in recent times. Initially, it was created in the mid-1900s as an approach used by designers to enhance user experience. In the 1960s, professionals specialising in homes, consumer goods, and technology began adopting this philosophy, keeping the focus on the users’ needs rather than the products themselves.

Design Thinking is an iterative, user-centric approach to problem-solving that prioritises innovation and fresh perspectives. Applying Design Thinking to Human Resources (HR) is a relatively new concept which can provide invaluable insights into customers’ needs, enabling HR to better meet them. Design Thinking can be implemented throughout the entire HR process, from recruiting new personnel to retaining and developing key employees who can bring more value to the organisation. According to HR Leader and Coach, Lara Yeku: “HR requires a ‘human-centred’ approach to effectively tackle talent challenges and transform them into potential positive employee experiences”.

The effectiveness of this approach lies in its focus on the present situation, enabling individuals to prepare for future projects, no matter how complex the task. Additionally, creativity is a skill that can be developed and refined through practice and dedication, empowering individuals to enhance their abilities over time.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of how to apply Design Thinking to generate creative and innovative solutions for problems, we will explore the basic components of the process and examine a simple example.

  1. Understand:

    • The initial step in the design thinking process is to cultivate empathy. It entails placing oneself in the shoes of those affected by the problem to establish a personal connection with the end-users. Listening plays a crucial role in achieving this, enabling comprehensive understanding of others’ perspectives without making any assumptions or judgements. It’s also crucial to be mindful of the different roles that must be taken on throughout the process.
    • During this phase, we aim to formulate a problem statement that we’re trying to solve. We will concentrate heavily on interpreting the data gathered in the previous step. Some of the critical questions we should ponder are: Is there a recurring pattern that’s emerging? Where do our customers struggle? What is the biggest issue if there is one?
  2. Explore:

    • Following the collection of customer feedback and the identification of potential problems, we will conduct a brainstorming session to generate novel solutions to the issue at hand. By the end of this process, we should have an extensive list of ideas to explore. The prospects for discovering new and innovative approaches to resolving the problem are almost limitless.
    • During the prototype stage, adjustments may be made to the solution before it is finalised. To authenticate the identified issues and recommended solutions, testing will be carried out.
  3. Materialise:

    • To ascertain the validity of this theory, it is advisable to share prototypes with end-users or conduct pilot studies across various settings. The aim of this exercise is to obtain feedback that can be used to refine and improve the proposed approaches. This may necessitate revisiting previous phases, such as prototyping or even the empathy phase.
    • After completing the process, the subsequent step is to put the new product or procedure into practice. This entails complete deployment, making it accessible to the intended users. It’s an ongoing process that may require tackling unforeseen problems, which will necessitate innovative solutions.

Since this may come across as unexciting, let’s take a look at an example to get a better understanding of how Design Thinking can be applied:

Aminu, an HR Operations Officer at an IT firm, has come across the principles of Design Thinking and has decided to utilise them to examine the ambiguity surrounding the firm’s leave policy. Based on feedback from employees, it appears that planning time off is challenging for them. Therefore, Aminu is taking the appropriate measures to identify potential solutions to the problems raised.

  1. Aminu is proactively attempting to comprehend the viewpoints of other team members by arranging a focus group with the heads of each department. Through this focus group, Aminu and the Human Resources team will acquire additional insights into the challenges being discussed, gaining a better understanding of the situation.
  2. At this point, Aminu and his colleague sit down to draft issue statements.
    • All company regulations must be stored in a single central location to allow easy and rapid access for all employees, without the need to contact HR.
    • Employees desire a brief policy that has been updated to reflect the current state of the company.
  3. Conceptualise – Together, we brainstorm ways to address the issues listed below.
    • Provide a link to a Google Drive sheet or tracker so that all employees can view the company’s policies;
    • Establish a fundamental intranet that can function as a storage location for all the policies;
    • Regularly notify your employees about where they can access all regulations;
    • It is critical to modify the policy for the sake of clarity and transparency. By offering a thorough summary of the relevant information regarding leave entitlement and usage, employees can make the most of their paid time off. To accomplish this, an appendix should be created to include all the necessary supporting material.
    • Facilitate ease of comprehension for the reader by providing a table of contents, relevant headings, and appropriate section dividers;
    • Promote the new leave policy by hosting a road show featuring a catchy song and a film summarising the most crucial points.
  4. Aminu is collaborating with his colleagues, as well as members of the Technology and Internal Communications departments, to research software that could streamline the process and make the policy’s language easier to understand for the organization’s staff.
  5. After Aminu and his team have developed a new policy and identified potential technological solutions, they will share the policy with a specific group of employees to test and obtain their feedback.
  6. When the required adjustments to the policy and implementation process have been completed based on the feedback received, this new information will be given to all employees. This may result in unforeseen difficulties as well as significant accomplishments for the team. To ready oneself for the next extraordinary challenge, it is critical to begin anew and consider other people’s perspectives.

Following the critical assistance provided to HR Superman Aminu and his team in avoiding a potential crisis, it is now essential to evaluate the circumstances and consider means of satisfying the requirements of our primary stakeholders – our employees, customers, and shareholders.

As per a recent article published in Forbes, the evolving nature of work in the future is expected to occur in five distinct ways. Firstly, roles within organizations are anticipated to be more flexible, allowing employees to transition between departments and optimise their individual skill sets. Secondly, the workforce is likely to become more dispersed, with the growing prevalence of remote work and gig-based employment. Thirdly, the need for continual learning is predicted to increase to ensure that employees remain competitive in the job market. Finally, technology is expected to complement human jobs, creating opportunities for new roles and allowing existing roles to become more efficient.

This piece presents proof that Design Thinking is a potent set of tactics that takes into account the needs of both customers and employees to ensure efficient service delivery. By prioritizing the needs of both groups, Design Thinking enables enhanced customer satisfaction and employee engagement, leading to a more successful service delivery.

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