Using design thinking in HR to optimize hospitality

Tiago Costa, CEO of Parisima Talent, discusses the importance of design thinking and explains how hospitality HR leaders in the region can contribute to a company’s ongoing success through effective application.


As the Middle East’s world-leading, ever-evolving tourism and hospitality sectors continue to expand at an unprecedented rate, design thinking is increasingly becoming a vital component of human resource strategy and operations. The Middle East’s growing hospitality and tourism sectors – already among the region’s largest employers – continue to create new job opportunities.


Saudi Arabia is plowing massive investment into infrastructure, tourism and real estate in line with Vision 2030. By 2030, Saudi Arabia will have created over a million new jobs, particularly in hospitality and tourism, with 250,000 allocated for the 2030 World Expo.


Moreover, as new employment opportunities are unlocked across the region, HR departments must be ready. Therefore, they need to strategize and put solutions in place to retain their most talented teams. Notably, employees who are not fully satisfied with their work may feel tempted to seek better prospects elsewhere.


Design thinking principles originated before the 1960s and gained momentum during World War II, particularly in industrial design practices. Technological advancements have led design to adopt a scientific approach, with designers conceiving ideas using computers before producing them… In the 1980s and1990s, the principle evolved further into human-centered design and the launch of specialized design firms. Today, many industries and sectors, including hospitality, apply design thinking to product development, service design, and organizational strategy.


Furthermore, design thinking in HR is all about making employees’ experiences better. Moreover, it is about using tried and tested stages throughout the process. Ultimately, design Thinking encompasses empathy, feedback, brainstorming and testing. This approach prioritizes emotional needs over functional requirements, pinpointing value for both internal and external stakeholders in the company ecosystem.


Challenges and considerations first is the need to pinpoint challenges affecting employees. Moreover, issues can be identified through performance reviews and employee satisfaction surveys. In addition to, behavioural patterns such as continued absenteeism or a drop in performance. In the hospitality industry, shiftwork is inherent, yet remains one of the biggest challenges for HR and operations teams. Design thinking has a role to play here. Firstly, empathy must be applied, with a compassionate approach to shift workers’ needs. Some may be working parents, others may have limited access to transport and some may even have hidden medical challenges. It’s a case of getting individuals’ feedback on what works for them. It involves empathy, asking, “Would I be satisfied in this situation?” and considering others’ perspectives and feelings. Consequently, if the answer is no – and it probably will be – then change is necessary. Next comes defining what’s needed to enhance employee well-being by improving scheduling. For example, it could be introducing new technology and software.


Furthermore, it might be by bringing in new policies and procedures, such as flexible working. Shift workers could move to a back-office function or moved to a different property closer to their home. Brainstorming proposed solutions with stakeholders is key before any decisions are taken. Some may welcome new proposals, while others reject them outright. Finding the right balance is key in such situations. Continuous improvement Once a solution or range of solutions has been agreed upon, it’s time for trials. Initially, a small group tests the prototype. If feasible, workable and sustainable than design thinking has succeeded. Otherwise, further consultation is necessary. Design thinking in HR is not a quick-and-easy process. Notably, some may question its costs in terms of time and efficiency. To be effective, design thinking needs the right team following the right procedures. Furthermore, it is mainly about proper implementation and follow-up.


Upon completion of the process, sustained stakeholder feedback, ongoing performance reviews and regular open sessions become essential. Tracking customer feedback verifies system effectiveness.

Source: Hospitalitynewsme