Design Thinking Series Part 2: Retain Top Talent
Design Thinking Series Part 2: Retain Top Talent
Design thinking works well when applied to the recruitment process itself, but it’s impact goes far beyond that. Design thinking can also color the expectations of both the employer and the candidate.
For companies that enthusiastically embrace design thinking, it’d be wise to hire capable generalists over highly skilled specialists for many positions. Remember that the principles of design thinking demand that you test a wide range of solutions. If someone has lots of experience and skills in a particular area, they’re most likely to focus on solutions that play on their strengths. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to lack of diversity in the ideation stage of design thinking.
That isn’t to say that companies that favor design thinking shouldn’t hire specialists. If you have the luxury of hiring a large team of people, specialists can be very beneficial for effective division of labor. They can also brainstorm ideas that people less skilled in their area might not think of. But to best leverage design thinking, you’ll need the ability (and the budget) to bring a large, diverse team.
If you’re only able to hire a small number of people, it’s better to look for a group of jack-of-all-trades, or generalists. These people will do pretty good in a wide range of fields. They might not be as qualified as specialists at certain tasks, but they better embody the spirit of “no idea is too crazy” that underlies design thinking. And of course, a mix of generalists with a few specialists in key disciplines can also lead to great teams.
On a related note, businesses adhering to design thinking principles should make a point of hiring a diverse staff. When a brilliant idea comes you during a brainstorming session, it can feel like the inspiration came from nowhere. That’s not true. It’s actually born from a lifetime of experiences and knowledge. Because people of different genders, races, sexual orientations, ages, nationalities, socioeconomic classes, and backgrounds have different experiences and knowledge, they’ll bring different ideas to the table. Again, this plays well with the tenants of design thinking.
While design thinking is most often considered from a business’s perspective, its implementation also benefits the candidate. For one thing, many people simply like to see design thinking as a priority to potential employers. It’s not hard to understand why: would you rather work for a stagnant firm that hasn’t changed in decades or an innovative company that constantly strives to better itself?
Additionally, Candidates will benefit from tools that are born of design thinking to find open positions and connect with recruiters. We already see this through the rapid growth in online job searches, a solution that better suits to the needs of both the candidate and the recruiter. It’s likely that we will continue to see growth and innovation in connecting recruiters with top candidates.
That said, the future of hiring won’t be entirely digital. Research has found that face-to-face contact and fostering genuine long-term relationships with candidates drastically increases the quality of your hiring pool. It also improves their perception of your company. This effect works even when you’re not actively hiring, so top candidates can expect to see more communication from recruiters and design thinking-oriented companies in the future.
Increased communication will contribute to already-shrinking job tenures. This is unfortunate, but logical. The primary goal of design thinking is to better tailor the experience of the end user. In a job interview, the candidate is usually the end user. Companies will need to find new ways of growing more attractive to the candidate. Further, as competition for top talent increases, companies will need to find more effective methods for poaching talent from their competitors. It’s likely that design thinking can help with both of these problems, which means that barring an economic downturn, candidates can expect new job offers to grow more attractive.
Conversely, businesses will also need to find new methods for retaining employees. As the incentive for top talent to jump ship grows, your company will need to make staying a more attractive option.
Think of it this way: if an employee applies the principles of design thinking to their entire way of life, they’ll approach each problem without preconceived notions or loyalty, giving equal weight to every solution. When they wake up in the morning, is coming to work for your company the best solution for the problem of how to spend their day? It should be. Design thinking can help you get there.
Design thinking has already had an enormous impact on the world, and we utilize products created by design thinking every day. It’s also an approach that businesses can use to find innovative and effective solutions for attracting and retaining top talent.