Design Thinking Mindset Key to Employee Retention and Innovation, Says McLean & Company

McLean & Company, a leading global HR advisory firm, has released Demystify the Design Thinking Mindset, a research-driven training deck designed to help people leaders adopt new human-centered ways of working amid talent shortages in an increasingly competitive labor market.

According to McLean & Company, a culture of diversity and inclusion is a critical business benefit. Without it, organizations lose out on talent, innovation, diversity of thought, and experiences from different backgrounds.

McLean and Company’s research has found that organizations that do not prioritize creating an inclusive environment experience 1.6 times more voluntary turnover than those that do,” says Rebecca Hoke, product manager of Learning Solutions at McLean & Company. “This is especially true over the past two years, as the talent market has seen workers leave organizations to seek employment opportunities that offer better benefits, improved work-life balance, and a more inclusive workplace culture.”

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The newly released training deck explains how applying a design thinking mindset – a human-first, empathetic, and collaborative approach to resolving challenges – can assist organizations in ensuring their workplaces become more inclusive and diverse. As such, this problem-solving method often acts as a catalyst for change and evolution, with organizations that practice design thinking proficiently being twice as likely to be high performing in terms of innovation, according to research from McLean & Company’s 2022 HR Trends Report.

“Empathizing with and involving employees enables organizations to design solutions that work for real people, rather than for what data indicates is the ‘average’ employee. An ‘average’ employee is a mythical, ideal employee that doesn’t actually exist,” explains Hoke. “When we understand the true needs and perspectives of the people we’re solving for, we can clearly define the problem and then move forward to address their actual needs, rather than our assumptions.”

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McLean & Company’s training deck outlines the five stages of the Design Thinking Model, adapted from Stanford University, that will improve retention, attraction, and, ultimately, innovation. Those stages are as follows:

  1. Empathize – Purposefully gather employees’ experiences to understand their perspective within the context of the challenge and identify the critical things that matter most. It’s important not to assume to know what the group needs but to ask questions and be open-minded about what is shared.
  2. Define – Clearly define the problem based on the information gathered during the empathize stage.
  3. Ideate – Collect as many different and varied ideas as possible in a brainstorming session and work toward solving the specific problem identified in the define stage.
  4. Prototype – Select a small number of potential solutions and design a prototype  with the employee in mind. Use the prototype to assess if the idea meets the employee needs and solves the problem.
  5. Test – Run ideas and prototypes in real-life scenarios to find the most valuable and feasible options.

To support people leaders in understanding and applying the Design Thinking Model, McLean & Company offers practical resources like Demystify the Design Thinking Mindset as well as various levels of support designed to meet organizations’ unique HR needs, including DIY toolkits, guided implementations, workshops, and consulting.

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