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How HR Departments Can Leverage UX Design Principles

How HR Departments Can Leverage UX Design Principles

Effectively managing the employer-employee relationship has always been a delicate one for most HR departments. For HR it may be beneficial to look at trends in other business areas that may have person-related flows that can be adapted or emulated to advance ongoing company success. One such focus area is User Experience (UX).

UX has been traditionally considered by businesses in reference to their customers.  How a customer feels when making the decision to buy, and how the business treats them if they feel the sale is not up to expectations makes all the difference for repeat customer purchases.

The same focus can be adapted to a firm’s employees. UX design should be an integral part of the HR department. The mission of a UX designer is to ensure a positive employee experience. A happy employee is positively motivated to do his or her job at peak efficiency. The result: The firm’s bottom line improves.

It is important to think about the UX concept in some detail in order to implement it correctly.  Here are a few ways that HR departments can use best practices in UX design to motivate their employees for their company’s benefit.

Seek Input from a Wide Array of Individuals

If UX is a new concept for your company, especially when relating to employees, it is best to gather a wide range of input from various stakeholders in the company, including folks not in HR or the C-suite, before rolling it out. If employees feel the initiative is forced upon them, it may fall flat.

Strive to Create People-Focused Policies

Just as in the case with customers, employees must be cultivated. Ask for and pay attention to their feedback. If you are somewhat isolated in HR, become tuned in to their modus operandi and workflows in order to initiate people-focused policies and engage effectively.

Consider What Works for Other Companies

Every business is different. Nonetheless, it may be prudent to look at other companies that have already begun to use UX internally. Just like benchmarking for profitability targets, consider researching the HR-employee and management-employee relationship in other successful firms.

Incorporate Personality into Your Communications

The psychology of the workplace is an undervalued area of scrutiny. Successful companies realize that their staff has a wide spectrum of personality characteristics. Each employee can use their strengths to shape the corporate culture in a positive, more profitable direction. It works the opposite way as well: Companies can and should utilize their corporate personality when communicating with their staff.

Digital signage is a somewhat new buzzword that describes the best practices and proper media for interacting with a specific community online. Proper usage of digital signage that incorporates the personality of the company can be instrumental in fostering communication with the staff.

Create “User Personas”

A company would do well to create distinctive user personas when designing communication interfaces with their employees. A good user persona will effectively validate and represent employee interests.

The user persona should be thought of as a real living person who will engage with employees for their own as well as the company’s best interests. A good persona will enable you to transmit your messages in ways that will resonate.

Run a Usability Test

Consider implementing usability tests, which are often used in software and hardware rollouts. In our context, a usability test would measure the functionality of the employee work and communication experience. HR might consider the following general areas for incorporation in the template design:

  • What methods are available to employees for giving feedback?
  • How often are they used?
  • What percentage of the staff uses them?
  • How are key metrics going to be tabulated and used?

Remember, real employees should be used in the design and implementation of the testing process.

Consider Corporate Accessibility

How accessible are management and HR personnel to the employees at your company? Do employees feel like they have “skin in the game”? If they have good ideas, how are they going to communicate them within the organization? These are the key issues behind communication accessibility.

Consider designing a forum by which employees can bubble up game-changing ideas for the company’s future–ideas that would have remained unheard otherwise. Don’t forget the simple stuff as well: Monthly happy-hour outings and festive birthday celebrations are but a few examples.

There may be legal considerations around accessibility as well. Are all employees that require it getting equal access to key information and computing systems? Do some employees feel they are being left in the dark relative to their peers?

Keep It Simple

Often, when rolling out a new in-house initiative, staff may feel like they are bombarded with too much information. Moreover, they may perceive the rollout effort to be just the next “shiny toy” that will soon be dropped by the wayside.

It is important to initiate a new employee UX program with care and respect. If you don’t, people may see it as a ruse and ignore what can actually be a transforming experience. The last thing HR needs to do is further alienate an already stressed employee base with an overpitched or botched experience.


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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.