The Future of Work: How Design Thinking Can Stop the Turnover Tsunami
July 14, 2021 | Future of Work
by ExperiencePoint

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to bring a tidal wave of job-quitting. 

In our last blog post, we explored the various forces behind the so-called “turnover tsunami,” and touched upon the nightmare it could create for employers. Turnover is expensive and damages company morale. Not only is a lost employee a loss of years of institutional knowledge, but resignations also add significant costs by way of recruiting, hiring and training.

So how can an employer stem the turnover tide? People don’t generally leave jobs when they feel challenged, valued and understood. They need to see a future for themselves at their organization and believe in its long-term vision. They have to feel that their work is meaningful and have confidence in the way the organization collaborates and pushes boundaries in a quickly evolving world.

What kind of organization will survive the turnover tsunami? An organization powered by design thinking.

What is an organization powered by design thinking?

In a design-powered organization, the overwhelming majority of employees are proficient in design thinking. This fluency means that customer-centric problem-solving has become a way of life, and that people engage in empathetic and inspired thinking on a daily basis. Employees focus on important and genuine customer needs, avoiding the pitfall of investing in solutions based on whims or guesses. Design-powered organizations foster productive collaboration, empowering people to surface and develop the best ideas. Moreover, they have an established culture that enables teams to quickly and inexpensively turn these ideas into value.

A design-powered organization can stem the turnover tide by: 


Keeping Employees Engaged

In design-friendly organizations, people know that their ideas are both valued and encouraged. Structural hierarchies may exist, but the organization exhibits a spirit of “idea democracy,” meaning that everyone feels a shared responsibility for coming up with new concepts and projects, confident that their ideas will be heard. Employees feel inspired as creators and see purpose in their work. They feel empowered to speak up when problems arise, knowing that their concerns will be respected and addressed. In the best situations, they have a real emotional connection to their company and feel that its mandate aligns with their own values and principles.

Keeping the Right Projects Moving

Since design-powered organizations are focused on the customer, every project is continually tested against the value it will provide to the end-user. Projects that have run off course are quickly reevaluated, sparing the time and cost of long-term investment in dead ends. Company morale is never damaged by the disillusionment wrought from months spent developing a product or service that ends up getting axed. Instead, people are heartened and encouraged as they see the most promising projects gain traction quickly.

Keeping the Future in Sight

While design thinking focuses on the immediate and observable needs of the customer, its emphasis on unbridled ideation and creative thought mean that progress and the future are never far from anyone’s mind. As teams collaborate and discuss new ideas, their burgeoning sense of autonomy and possibility inspire them to think in unorthodox ways and to push the envelope on what tomorrow might look like. By keeping the future in sight, employees feel connected to issues that extend beyond their daily responsibilities. They become confident  that their work is more than simply relevant; they know that they’re shaping tomorrow’s world.

So if you’re hoping to get ahead of the turnover tide at your company, the first place to look is inwards. Does your company have a forward-thinking culture that will keep people connected to their work, values and ambitions? If not, it’s time to consider how design thinking can help build organizational traits that are key to employee retention.

Read more about design thinking in our popular post: The Most Important Skill for Tomorrow’s Workforce? Design Thinking.