I have written about why your HR department should embrace design thinking in a previous column and now a study on "Designing and Refining Talent Acquisition" reinforces the important role Design Thinking plays in HR. Findings from a survey of 307 HR practitioners conducted by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and Lever, elucidate the ways Design Thinking can be applied to the problems of talent acquisition. HCI interviewed me for this study, and they were the inspiration for my previous column.

If you are considering changes to your talent sourcing and recruiting strategies, then you will want to dive into this study and learn how Design Thinking benefits organizations.

Highlights from the study

Context: The changing landscape of work, including increasing numbers of new and open positions and tighter competition for the talent with the best fit and most desirable skills, have amplified existing weaknesses in talent acquisition strategies.

Most recruiting programs and strategies are overly complex and are designed for recruiters and compliance-- better technology, better analytics, better reporting, better structures. This has motivated many organizations to rethink not only their talent acquisition strategy but also the approaches they use in problem-solving.

For a growing number of organizations, these problem-solving approaches now include Design Thinking --defined as an iterative methodology that seeks understanding through empathy and creates solutions by prototyping, refining, and re-designing.

Design Thinking takes an outside-in approach to solution-finding, starting with the perspective of the customer. When we use Design Thinking for the problems in talent acquisition, the emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of all the stakeholders in this process are carefully considered.

Start by asking discovery questions to gain a better understanding of stakeholders: What is the candidate experience? What is the hiring manager's experience? What is the company's experience? And, from each of those "customer" perspectives--consider: What do they need, want, and value?

By empathizing with the experiences of each customer, Design Thinkers can provide context for problems and challenges in designing and refining the talent acquisition process. This approach, which integrates the needs of each of these key stakeholders, will translate into a superior and robust talent acquisition strategy.

Key Findings of Design Thinking in Talent Acquisition

  • The use of analytics in the talent acquisition process received the lowest rating of effectiveness (13%) in the survey, suggesting that efforts to improve the sourcing of candidates and create a sustainable talent pipeline may continue to pose significant challenges in the near-term.
  • 31 percent of talent leaders at organizations with developed design thinking say they're effective at building sustainable talent pipelines - compared to 16 percent in the overall pool, and just 12 percent in the group that uses no design thinking.
  • 57 percent of of talent leaders at organizations with developed design thinking say they're effective at aligning talent acquisition strategies to business priorities - compared to the average of 36 percent, and just 27 percent of organizations which use no design thinking.
  • Design Thinking approaches are effective in meeting some of talent acquisition's biggest challenges. Organizations that use Design Thinking create better alignment of talent acquisition strategy and business strategy.
  • Design Thinking helps talent acquisition teams build sustainable talent pipelines.
  • Design Thinking addresses the communication between the customers of the talent acquisition process to improve its outcomes.The candidate is given more timely and transparent information about their place in the process, and more opportunities for feedback. This results in greater insight into the candidate experience and improves the organization's employer brand.
  • Unlike traditional problem-solving efforts, organizations that rely on Design Thinking approaches are more likely to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative people data.
  • Organizations with Design Thinking are more likely to measure time to proficiency and time to productivity to better describe the quality of hire.

To learn more about the study and recommendations for Design Thinking in Talent Acquisition, watch the HCI webcast or read the full report online.