There’s been a lot written about how companies can use design thinking to transform the human resources (HR) experience to be more employee friendly. But what about using design thinking to help employees transform themselves?
A recent article in Digital HR Tech outlines how HR can use design thinking to create innovative solutions to a wide range of problems. It involves empathizing with employees, clearly defining the problem, brainstorming creative ways to solve it and then seeing how those solutions work in practice. Standard design thinking, right? Well, HR can also leverage those same tactics to help employees solve personal problems that are hampering their productivity both in the workplace and outside of it.
As every HR professional knows, employees come to HR with a wide range of issues including frustrations and problems with co-workers or managers, stresses at home because of finances, long hours or other work-related challenges, and feelings of helplessness and anxiety after layoffs or project failures. These frustrations, problems and feelings of unhappiness can lead employees to everything from malaise on the job and loss of enthusiasm to do their best, to an attitude of giving up and potentially even leaving the job.
A high turnover rate for companies can wreak havoc on bottom line profits and productivity, but a workforce that has lost its enthusiasm and is just “phoning it in” can be just as disastrous. Design thinking can help with change management to sort out all of these issues.
Take the very common issue of problems between co-workers or between manager and employees. Study upon study from Glassdoor to LinkedIn to Robert Half will show that these sorts of employee relationship issues always rank among the top of the list of an employees’ reason for leaving a job.
But design thinking techniques, facilitated by HR, can alleviate these risks. Getting the two (or more) people involved in the conflict together to talk honestly about the problem can help everyone get to the heart of the matter. It’s about really listening to both sides and ideally, getting the people involved to empathize with each other so they can define exactly what the problem is, boiling it down to a couple of sentences, if possible.
When you have that settled, it’s time to brainstorm creative solutions to the problem and — critically — to implement those solutions in the workplace. Listening is all well and good, but acting on what you’ve heard is the key to workplace transformation.
Design thinking is uniquely positioned to help employees with any type of problem, from their personal lives to workplace relationships. When HR learns to leverage these tools on behalf of the employee population, they can eliminate conflict and help employees achieve a more positive and productive work-life balance.
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