How Design Thinking is helping HR in Redefining Employee and Customer Satisfaction


The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year filled with turbulence, volatility, uncertainty and complexity posing all together newer challenges related to survival – of humanity, businesses and down sliding economies. 

While all of us are trying to somehow manage and surpass this uncertain period, with near-normal living, working and socialising however there are a series of concern looming over businesses. Most of them are related to monitoring and managing the workforce through remote, effectively engaging people, keeping them motivated, enhance/sustain productivity with optimal efforts. These challenges have been more intense due to the multi-dimensional, multi-geographical, multi-diverse and multi-generational workforce including gigs and neo gigs now in the workforce. 

Today’s workforce is keen on enriching their experience as an employee with the Organization. They are not so much attached to the stability and sustainability of their jobs as was the Gen Xers rather on creating a difference and valuing the experience not so much the numbers of years of experience but the quality of work life. 

Thus the most common concerns HR has been grappling are as below:

  1. How to foster creativity, collaboration, enhance engagement and above all create great employee experience while enhancing productivity. 

  2. How to factor human-centred behavioural approach along with business and technology considerations towards needs and preferences of its employees/customers. 

  3. How to address growing stress, anxiety, mental health ensuring the safety of employees with employees working from remote and on projects.

  4. Identification and attraction of top talent, assign the right roles, transitioning into new roles, retaining talent to further develop them into great assets for the business.

  5. What are the key policy changes required when the majority of the workforce is still choosing to work from remote. Is it a new trend for the long term?

  6. How to integrate the geographically dispersed and diverse workforce into one unified Organization culture.

  7. To address the ongoing concerns of the ever-changing business environment, there is a need to focus on non-routine, non-conventional yet highly desired systemic solutions. Design thinking offers a creative problem-solving process with the human-centric approach and can be a handy tool to explore more ideas quickly through rapid experimentation and prototyping especially in highly uncertain and volatile times, potentially helping to reinvent HR – putting ‘Human” back into the HR.

Design thinking – essentially an iterative process of understanding and identifying problems, redefining them, exploring alternate solutions by assessing the peripheral factors contributing to the problematic situation which may not be apparent with initial scrutiny. The deeper probing to a current situation/problem at hand shall be useful for Organizations to develop alternative strategies to identify aspects of human behaviour and convert them into both employee/customer benefit and business value.

There is a dire need for HR to incorporate the Design thinking principles to be able to drive higher employee satisfaction, higher productivity and success for an organization. 

  1. HR needs to step into its employees/customers shoes (Empathise with its people) even for day to day working including challenges faced during Covid, work schedules, difficulties during web-based communications, relationship (work and personal) management. Few tools like Breakathons, Hackathons, Pulse Surveys, Employee Forums, Fish Bowl, Skip Level conversations, Questionnaires can be useful to gain insights. 

  2. Efforts in diagnosis to be able to identify pain points, define the critical aspects and key challenges faced by employees. To be able to define the real problem statement/s is to put in time and efforts on gathering more details from all possible sources to be able to investigate it further for providing apt solutions through one on one conversations, Chatbots, Grievance forums, coffee meets etc.  

  3. Collaborate with diverse teams for generating a lot of creative ideas, brainstorm and collectively work to address the key pain points, challenges as faced by the people, past events, current and future strategy, action plan etc through open forums, brainstorming sessions for exploring adaptive options, connecting with all the stakeholders to understand clearly their expectations.   

  4. Experiment with the possible creative solutions, paint scenarios to be able to understand the effectiveness and viability of the solution. A lot can be done by creating anchors to drive the new approach to HR through the use of Design Thinking like Champions to change, anchors, synergy teams to drive new behaviours are few of the non-conventional approaches.

  5. Pilot the solution for small groups and gauge the effectiveness as per expectations. Use the feedback to understand what improvements can be made to the solution/approach adopted. Accordingly, the solution can be further refined and reinforced to the entire organisation.

For all progressive Organizations, design thinking is a highly useful HR tool to make a shift to a customer-driven approach towards service delivery and creating an exceptional employee experience. This is achievable through creative experimentation and practical approach to finding the best ideas and potential solutions for HR especially in the current context of viewing Business with a fresh perspective. Author – Swati Yadav


 As an Executive Coach, my passion is to build businesses through leadership alliances.

“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation”



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