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HR as Drivers of People-centered Innovations


How many times have we heard HR say "that's the process"?



Probably, many times than we could ever remember. This is because HR is traditionally process-focused due to its nature of work. There is a need for HR to be compliant, efficient, consistent, and documented. But as times have changed, being in HR these days mean you need to be more creative to add value to the business in driving performance, productivity, and employee retention. This is where Design Thinking (DT) in HR comes in.


Design thinking offers a new perspective that can help organizations to create more effective, innovative, and human-centered HR practices. By taking a user-centered approach and continuously iterating based on feedback, organizations can create HR practices that are more effective, innovative, and meet the needs and experiences of their employees.


What is Design Thinking



Design thinking has emerged as a powerful approach for solving complex problems in a human-centered manner. In human resource management, design thinking can bring a new perspective to the way organizations approach and solve HR problems, leading to more effective and innovative solutions.


Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that starts with understanding the needs and experiences of the people being affected by the problem. It involves a collaborative and iterative process that includes observation, prototyping, testing, and iteration. By focusing on empathy, experimentation, and iteration, design thinking can help organizations find creative solutions to HR challenges.


How Design Thinking can be used in HR


One area where design thinking can have a significant impact in HR is in the recruitment process. Traditionally, recruitment has been a process focused on filling open positions as quickly as possible. However, this approach often fails to take into account the needs and experiences of both the organization and the potential new hires. By applying design thinking, HR teams can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and pain points of the recruitment process, both for the organization and the job seekers. This can lead to the creation of new and innovative recruitment processes that are more effective and efficient, while also being more attractive to job seekers.


Another area where design thinking can add value in HR is in the development of employee engagement and retention strategies. HR teams often struggle to find ways to engage and retain employees, as the drivers of engagement and retention can vary greatly from person to person. By using design thinking, HR teams can gather data on what drives engagement and retention, and use this information to create customized solutions that meet the specific needs and experiences of their employees.


Companies using Design Thinking in HR



There are several companies that have successfully applied design thinking in their human resource management practices. Here are a few examples:




Google is known for its innovative HR practices and has been using design thinking in HR for several years. For instance, they use design thinking to create a more employee-friendly and engaging work environment. They have designed their office spaces to be flexible, collaborative, and fun, with a focus on employee wellness.



Airbnb has used design thinking to reimagine the way they approach diversity and inclusion in their organization. They have conducted user research, prototyped new initiatives, and iterated based on feedback to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture.




IBM has used design thinking in HR to transform the way they approach employee development and training. They have designed a personalized and continuous learning program that helps employees build new skills and advance their careers. This program is based on user research and feedback, and has been well received by employees.

These companies demonstrate how design thinking can be applied in HR to create more effective, innovative, and human-centered solutions. By taking a user-centered approach and constantly iterating based on feedback, organizations can create HR practices that meet the needs and experiences of their employees.


How to Implement Design Thinking in HR



Design Thinking Workshop for HR facilitated by Prevo

Implementing design thinking in HR can be a transformative process that leads to more effective and innovative HR practices. Here is a step-by-step guide to implementing design thinking in HR:

  1. Establish a dedicated design thinking team: To successfully implement design thinking in HR, it is important to establish a dedicated design thinking team. This team should include HR professionals, designers, and other stakeholders who can bring diverse perspectives and skills to the process.

  2. Conduct user research: Before beginning to solve HR problems, it is important to gain a deep understanding of the needs and experiences of the people being affected by the problem. Conduct user research by conducting interviews, surveys, and observations to gain insights into the HR challenges faced by employees and the organization.

  3. Define the problem: Based on the insights gained from user research, define the problem you want to solve. Ensure that the problem is well defined, specific, and aligned with the needs and experiences of your employees and the organization.


4. Ideate and prototype: Generate ideas and prototypes to solve the HR problem. Encourage creativity and experimentation, and use prototypes to test your ideas and gather feedback.

5. Test and iterate: Based on the feedback gathered from testing, refine your ideas and prototypes. Continuously iterate based on feedback until you have a solution that meets the needs and experiences of your employees and the organization.


6. Implement and evaluate: Once you have a solution that meets the needs and experiences of your employees and the organization, implement it. Continuously evaluate the impact of the solution and make any necessary changes to improve its effectiveness.





Implementing design thinking in HR can be a time-consuming and iterative process, but it is well worth the effort. By taking a user-centered approach and continuously iterating based on feedback, organizations can create HR practices that are more effective, innovative, and meet the needs and experiences of their employees.










What HR challenges would you like to address using Design Thinking?

  • Improving hiring experience

  • Making learning and development more engaging and effective

  • Enhancing the workplace set up for hybrid work

  • Aligning HR policies to the needs of the employee


Looking to learn how you can apply Design Thinking in your HR practice? Check out our upcoming course!




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