Human Resources function has been evolving since its inception. They started as personnel and were tasked with maintaining paper and files and ensure people got their salaries. From there they evolved to influence who was hired and fired and promoted in the organization. It’s more than a decade since they got “a seat at the table” and became business partners, where recruiting became talent acquisition, and they found ways to “add value.” From here they progressed into Human Capital Management or Talent Management where HR not only understands the business but contribute to the organizational strategy and are no longer seen as a necessary burden and cost center.

And now HR is on the verge of something new, it’s all about “Employee Experience” and managing expectations of a multi-generation digital workforce. In the gig or experience economy, most companies expect employees to honor the brand promise when they interact with customers across different touchpoints. Yet very few organizations treat their own employees in a way that aligns with that brand promise.

Adding to this complexity, HR needs to rethink how with technology, applications, and an endless flow of information and communication from diverse sources, they can help in attracting, developing and retaining talent.

Be a part of the solution by solving “Wicked Problems”

Today, in the digital era to be future ready, HR needs a new strategy to build a work culture and work environment where employees can break free from the restraints imposed by the old way of doing things to “an always on, always working” mindset. This means, to enable them to provide the level of engagement they require to customers, they need access to key information, data, and business tools wherever and whenever they need them. Apart from the right environment, they also need the support of their leaders and peers, and to feel they are making an impact and getting timely recognition.

To become a real value added business partner; HR has to be a part of the solution by helping leaders across the different department, employees, and all stakeholders to solve the “Wicked Problems” sourced by humans in the organizations.

And find a solution these wicked problems:

  • What does the ultimate employee experience look like across the different stages of an employee journey for the different employee segments?
  • How to build a transparent work culture and create an atmosphere of change?
  • How to leverage technology to enhance the work experience and respond to the demands of the workplace of the future?
  • How to develop a talented workforce without any increase in the L&D budget and without losing valuable people in the process?
  • How to analyze data to make and drive decisions that create value?
  • How to offer on-demand gratification to top performers and push average performers to the next level?
  • How to make prospective and current employees understand the value and rewards of working with our organization?
  • How to change the paradigm so that when we think about our people costs we think about our people investment?
  • How to build an appealing recruitment website?
  • How to build very intuitive learning programs offering engaging and stimulating trainings?
  • How to integrate the different HR verticals, so employees are getting the most value from us?

So HR needs to transform its approach and develop a new mindset immediately – from “Making Employees Want Things” to “Doing Things Employees Want,” even before the leadership team and key stakeholders. One of the most critical capability building required to enable and sustain this transformation is “Design Thinking” concepts…

Start with the employee experience in mind

The need is to transform HR from a “process developer and maintainer” to an “employee experience architect.” A key component of this is moving HR to think about employees first and process second. And this spans every step of an employee’s relationship, from the time prospective employees are exploring job opportunities with an organization to the day they retire/resign or get terminated and beyond.

The need is to identify the gaps between the current experience of employees and the desired experiences the organization wants to provide across each stage and employee segment, and address their needs, how employees meet and interact with colleagues and managers, align them with the company goals and requirements and cultivate the desired culture.

For example, if an organization wants its brand to be known for agility, speed, and automation, then the employees’ workplace environment, recruitment, onboarding, benefits, ongoing engagement and communication, performance reviews, and so on should be technology-enabled. If personalization is what distinguishes a company, then that brand should deliver by consumerizing the employee engagement for the ultimate experience.

This way, employees experience the brand promise firsthand and are motivated and well equipped to reinforce and communicate them to customers. It acts as a catalyst to nurture a unique culture in the company. Figuring this out helps attract, manage and retain employees who fit with the company culture and are more likely to thrive in it.

Designed to succeed

“Design thinking for HR” is about applying the principles of design to the way employees work to impact their satisfaction, productivity, and enjoyment. It includes behavioral economics, grouping employees into clusters based on their needs, drivers, and desires; using technology, focusing on user experience and so on. By focusing on employee experience designed to appeal these different segments, companies can enjoy higher employee retention, and customers get better service.

Now relook your current HR strategy, organization, environment, processes, policies, systems, services, and even HR technologies…to get future ready. Then, please read this quotation on Design Thinking:

“Design is not what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Design is directed toward human beings. To design is to solve human problems by identifying them, examining alternate solutions to them, choosing and executing the best solution.” – Ivan Chermayeff

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